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Western Wall and Saints Joachim and Anne

This week’s spiritual pilgrimage, Angela Sealana, Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, will lead us on a journey to the Western Wall of the original Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

During our spiritual pilgrimage, Angela will discuss:

  • Take you on a guided walk around the Western Wall.
  • We’ll hear about the history of the original Temple, and what it was like during the time of Jesus,
  • And we’ll meet two people known for their association with the Temple, Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.

Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)


Where is the Western all?:

Hope for Family In Pandemic | Journey with Jesus

How can my relationship with God impact all my relationships? Tune-in to our new Feminine Faith edition of Catholicism Live! Every Tuesday at 11 in the morning Central time. Helping you keep your faith alive!

Finding Joy in Relationships

Mary Jane Fox, Angela Sealana, and Julie Reyna look at relationships & Valentine’s Day from a Catholic point of view, give couples 4 steps for praying together, and have a Heart-to-Heart discussion: “How can my relationship with God impact all my relationships?” Plus, we’ll introduce you to a married couple on the road to sainthood, AND give you a Spa Moment for your Soul!

Holy Family, Help Us Be Holy!

Statue of the Holy Family outside the Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth.

We began the last week of Advent with this verse from O Come, O Come Emmanuel:

“O come, O Wisdom from on high, who orders all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go.”

The universe and all of creation were created by God with a certain order that maintains harmony and peace.  As God gave mankind dominion over his creation, he expected us to maintain the order he established. In yesterday’s first reading, (Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14) we see one aspect of maintaining that order – we are to honor our Father and our Mother.  This is such an important part of God’s plan that the promise is given, whoever honors his father . . . when he prays is heard. Being obedient to our parents helps us to learn to be obedient to God.

In Colossians 3:15, Paul gives us additional insights into what we must do to keep order.  He says:

“Let the peace of Christ control your hearts.”

Fulfilling Our Role

In Christ, we will find the strength we need to maintain order in our relationships as husbands and wives, parents, and children.  There is a right way to fulfill our role, whatever it is.  And, of course, the reality is, even if we try to faithfully do our part, it doesn’t mean that others will be faithful.  I’m sure that there are many parents here who take their relationships with God seriously, and even though they have made every effort to guide their children in the right way, some have rebelled.  Peer pressure is very difficult to overcome.  And maybe there are some children here who have felt called to a religious vocation and have not received support from their parents.

Ordering our life to God is a daily struggle which calls us to perseverance in prayer and the sacramental life.  Our Lord offers us all the grace we need to take one day at a time, and to trust that in the end, everything will be okay if we persevere. It doesn’t mean things will not be difficult; it does mean we will always have hope.

We see in the Gospel of Luke (2:22-40) that the Holy Family faithfully followed the law of Moses. Even though they knew that Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews had been praying for, they didn’t think they should enjoy special privileges. They obeyed immediately and God’s plan continued to unfold, and prophesy was fulfilled when Simeon and Anna saw the baby Jesus in the Temple. Even though they were the holiest, most important family in the history of the world they faithfully followed the religious practices of their time because that is how they maintained their connection with the Heavenly Father and fulfilled His plan. The same is true for us. God wants to make our families holy.

The Crisis of the Family

It is not news that in this country, the most powerful country in the world, the institution of the family is at a point of crisis. Almost every family has experienced some degree of trauma, especially during this pandemic – whether physical, economic, psychological, or spiritual. Almost every family has a relative that is divorced. A statistic states that only one-third of children in this country will live with both biological parents until they reach the age of eighteen. The greatest need of our time is the renewal of the family; the only way it can be renewed is with the help of God’s grace; by being faithful to what God has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church, even if others are not.

Our families are God’s plan for the future of the world. The family is intended to be the domestic Church where husband, wife, and children are joined together in prayer and grow together in faith. The family is where vocation should first be discovered.

Even if our family life is not been what it could have been, it is not too late to begin anew. Whether you are married, divorced, or single, it is not too late to ask “Wisdom, to teach us in her ways to go.”

The way people have persevered through the ages is by:

  • Attending mass every weekend (during the week, if possible).
  • Praying daily (privately and with people we love).
  • Reading Scriptures
  • Frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Spending time before the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Reading the lives of the saints.
  • Being generous with our time, talent, and treasure.

It is the same plan for everyone for all time.

How Can We Be More Aware of God’s Presence?

The domestic church, like every church, is made up of the people that occupy it. However, there are things we can do to help us be more aware of the presence of God and to help us enter into prayer at home:

  • Every home should have a crucifix and religious art to show that Faith is important to those who live there.
  • There can be a special room or part of a room where you have an altar or shelf on which you place candles, a bible, holy pictures, and favorite prayers that help you enter into prayer.
  • Designate a time when the family prays together, especially the Rosary, or at least part of the Rosary.
  • It is very meaningful for parents to bless their children before bed and before leaving the house by tracing the cross on their foreheads as you say, …may God bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

God has a great plan for each of us if we allow Him to guide us by way of the Scriptures, the Church, the lives of the saints, and His wisdom. It has to begin as a desire in our hearts and continues when we share this desire with others, especially those we love.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph pray for us. Help us to be holy!


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.

Living Advent as a Family

Advent is a season of waiting, a season filled with hope. Here are a few tips that will help you and your family:

Use an Advent calendar and/or a wreath to mark this time of preparation. Display the Wreath and/or calendar on your dining table or a prominent place as a reminder to pray with the family.

Spend time in prayer: make an appointment with God – a commitment to spend time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration or a commitment to pray the Rosary with Mary. John Paul II said “Praying the Rosary is contemplating the face of Jesus with Mary.”

Light a candle before an image of the Blessed Virgin, during meals or while praying the Rosary.

Take up a book during Advent – find a book on spirituality, on Mary, or other topic that can be read before Christmas.

Place a Nativity set in a prominent place in your home, but only put out the empty manger, some of the animals. Place some statues from your Nativity nearby, such as the Shepherd, Mary and Joseph, sheep and other animals. Each week, you can move the statues a little closer.

Participate in your parish’s Advent/Christmas Giving projects such as “adopt a family”, “give gifts to the needy” or make home visits to the elderly and homebound in your parish.

Suggest children, grandchildren or nieces/nephews to write a letter to Jesus instead of Santa.

Give children a piece of straw to place in the manger for each good deed they do during Advent as a gift to the baby Jesus.

Do Something to Spread Hope (Here’s How)

By now you’ve probably seen the signs in people’s yards and along city streets that say things like — Don’t give upyou’re not alone — you matteryou are worthy of love, and — your mistakes do not define you.

What began in 2017 with 20 yard signs – one woman’s response to a high suicide rate in her Oregon town – has evolved into a movement with thousands of these signs popping up all over the United States and abroad, and yes; along my route to work in San Antonio, Texas.

I bring this up, because these days, we all need to do our part to spread messages of hope. The most beautiful thing about these signs is that they are a reminder that anyone, anywhere, can make a difference. Like Amy Wolff, the sign lady, all we have to do is something.

Today, I would like to focus on some of the “something” we can do to lift each other up spiritually. The last thing we want to do during this time is to forget about or abandon our spiritual exercises which are at the heart of maintaining a spirit of hope.

How to Start

First and foremost, praying for each other and for our country & world is so important right now.

Letting others know that we are praying for them can be very consoling and encouraging.

What Else Can We Do?

Here are some other ideas and ways we can attend to the spiritual well-being of those around us:

  • Provide Sacramentals to Others: Surprise someone – even a stranger – with a Rosary, small bottle of holy water, or perhaps a prayer card. Not only does this make someone feel cared about, but it also encourages them in their faith life.
  • Start a Group Virtual Prayer Time: Gather with others at a particular time for a virtual prayer session. During this time, participants can share what their particular prayer needs are, and then the group can offer up these prayer intentions as they pray together.
  • Email Links to Online Messages of Hope to Others: While you may be aware of all the spiritually enriching resources offered by Pilgrim Center of Hope, others may not be. Take a moment to send out a link to our Journey with Jesus and Meet Mary weekly virtual reflections. You can also send them one of our monthly video presentations – Meet the Master or Socials with the Saints.
  • Gather the Family Together: Even though our churches have re-opened, some folks haven’t returned to in-person Mass to avoid the coronavirus. If that’s the case in your household, aside from watching live-streams from your parish or other parts, build in some family time to read Scripture, pray together, and as a family engage in acts of kindness.
  • Consider Doing More Tithing: Taking into account that the economic impact of the pandemic has been far reaching, if you are not having to endure a financial crisis and have been relatively un-affected by COVID-19, then perhaps you will consider utilizing what you might have spent on entertainment, vacations, and eating out to help support non-profits that are suffering. For families, this can provide a great lesson for children when it comes to the importance of tithing and supporting worthy causes.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind. (Hebrews 13:16)

Doing something to spread hope to others is not easy. This takes sacrifice and stepping out of your routine or comfort zone, but the rewards are tremendous.


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.

Simple Way to Boost Your Spiritual Life – Advice from a Young Soldier

Drafted into the WWI German army at 18 years old, Josef Engling didn’t live to see the war’s end.

Josef Engling

His life lasted only 20 years, but his legacy continues today through a spiritual movement called Schoenstatt – of which Josef was a founding member. Why does he remain so influential? Well, he was just like you and me: teased for his crooked walk and slurred speech, engaged in the struggle to live a good life – even when he felt confused, useless, or weak.

Yet Josef had learned the secret to success in this life:

I want to become all things to all people and to belong totally to Our Lady (Mary, Mother of God); I want to be faithful even in the smallest things and to carry out the ordinary things in an extraordinary way.

Sacrifices for Mary

Easter 1916, before the war: Josef was a seminarian with the Pallotine Fathers in the Schoenstatt region of Germany, but he was feeling lost. Even with Easter’s celebratory atmosphere, his spiritual life was weak. Sitting in reflection, he looked around him and noticed all the flowers in bloom.

Suddenly, inspiration hit.

As any son who loves his mother would, Josef wanted to offer flowers to his mother. That is, his spiritual mother: Mary. She is the one who remained faithful to God continuously; from Jesus’ conception to his crucifixion, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit after the first Easter. Josef knew that Mary would help him boost his spiritual life. But how? He wrote her a letter:

May Blossoms from the garden of my heart presented to the Queen of May in May 1916. Mother, the whole garden of my heart is dedicated to you. For you I will plant and cultivate in it:

…and he began a list of “blossoms” he would offer her. Notice how easily we can imitate this young man’s novel idea.

The Rose of Love and Esteem

As the rose is the queen of flowers, so you be the Queen of my Heart. I place everything at your disposal, my Queen.

  1. Acts of honor and reverence toward Mary and her picture
  2. Reading and speaking about Mary
  3. Visits to the chapel and praying the Rosary
  4. Receiving Holy Communion
  5. Any act that promotes the Gospel
The Forget-Me-Not of Faithfulness in Your Service
  1. Praying my prayers well
  2. Being attentive at studies and spiritual reading
  3. Doing my chores well, including making my bed properly and keeping my desk in order
  4. Obeying the rules
  5. Following my conscience
The Violet of Humility and Modesty
  1. Accepting corrections or criticism patiently
  2. Forgiving offenses
  3. Obeying cheerfully
The Passion Flower of Crosses and Love of Sacrifice
  1. Patient acceptance of unpleasant things
  2. Working on good manners and courtesy to others
  3. Making little sacrifices at meals
  4. Faithfulness to my examination of conscience
  5. Other sacrifices
The Lily of Purity
  1. Guarding my eyes, especially in the dormitory
  2. Not getting involved in chatter about impure things
  3. Praying for the gift of purity before Holy Communion

Each of Josef’s ordinary, everyday activities were transformed into gifts for the Mother of God, his own spiritual Mother. As time passed, his growth and maturity was noticeable.

Soon all the young men who lived with Josef adopted this practice. On Sundays, they would draw pieces of paper from a margarine tub containing their “blossoms” for the week. The priests who oversaw the boys were surprised at the tremendous increase in respect, order, kindness, and spirituality among them.

On the Battlefield

Fast-forward to the war: As a soldier on the battlefield, Josef found himself amidst gunshots, grenade explosions, hunger, fear, and fallen companions. In his journal, he wrote:

Mother, if it wasn’t for the support I feel from you, I would be totally confused and nervous. Today, my company is resting from the fighting – except for myself, who must stand guard. Tomorrow, it will be the same. I am so hungry and thirsty, with little hope of getting letters. All I receive is the mockery from my comrades. But my love for you helps me bear everything.

I want to become a great saint. Shouldn’t I take all that is happening now with patience and serenity?

You see? Josef was normal like us; the Christian life was still a struggle. But he knew he must follow after Jesus and daily take up his cross. Josef’s fellow soldiers mocked his schedule of prayer and penance. But, wishing always to please his beloved Mother Mary and her Son, he stuck with it.

Josef’s example is one we can all follow. He knew he had to live each day, each moment, as a Christian. At the same time, he recognized, he was never alone…

We have a host of friends in Heaven by our side, cheering us on. First among them is our Mother. We can do this.


Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

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