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Jesus, A Mighty Name! | Journey with Jesus

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher – The Empty Tomb

Join Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox for a spiritual pilgrimage to the holiest site for all Christians, the Tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. This has been identified as an area of abandoned stone quarries just outside the city walls of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. During this program, Deacon Tom and Mary Jane will discuss:

  • Who built the church?
  • How do we know this is an authentic site?
  • What is it like inside the tomb?
  • Much, much more!

Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. – Pope Francis


A Closer Look at Holy Sepulcher Church and The Empty Tomb:


Where is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre?

What Are You Looking For?

That is the question Jesus asked two of John the Baptist’s disciples who began to follow him.  Let’s read the story:

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”  The two disciples* heard what he said and followed Jesus.  Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi”, “where are you staying?”  He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” (John 1:35-39).

It is interesting that one of John’s disciple that was following Jesus didn’t answer Jesus’ question immediately; he instead said Where are you staying? Perhaps we can relate to this response; not knowing what to answer when asked What are you looking for?

The question Jesus asks is an important one. Whether we realize it or not, that is a question that stirs in the heart of every one of us. More often than not, people are trying to find the answer through accomplishments as measured by society. So then why is it that so many people who have accomplished great things are still looking to satisfy that question? It is not a rare thing to discover in the news that someone who we thought successful has turned to drugs, alcohol, or even suicide.

The reality is, we can only find the answer to that question in the One who asked it of the disciples. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life; outside of him, the pursuit of our purpose for being on this earth will end in sadness and even hopelessness.  It was St. Augustine who said:

“Our hearts are restless O’ Lord until they rest in you”.

Some of the most renowned sinners in history have become persons filled with joy, peace, and hope by following the One who asked the question, “What are you looking for?”

As you are reading this, believe you are loved unconditionally by our Heavenly Father.   You can begin anew today.  How?  Imagine yourself walking with Jesus; He knows you, he looks into your eyes and sees who you are.  Oh sure, He knows what you have done in the past, but that is the past.  He invites you to begin anew, to follow Him now, and begin a new life filled with peace and hope.  Ask Jesus to touch your heart with His healing hand.  Experience his love by accepting Jesus into your heart and then follow him.


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.

The Blessing of Turning our Why into What

What is your response when you don’t believe God answered your prayer?

Do you humbly respond,

“Lord, You know what is best for me. I trust that You have a better plan for my good.”

Or . . . do you respond more often like Naaman, the highly esteemed and respected army commander suffering from leprosy that we read about in today’s Mass reading from the second Book of Kings (5:1-15)?

After hearing from his wife through her Israelite slave that a prophet of Israel can cure him, Naaman asks permission of his master to go and see the healer and prophet Elisha. He travels into a foreign land with his entourage bringing gifts to impress the king so as to gain access to the prophet.

In other words . . . he goes all out in hope his efforts will bring about a healing.

When Elisha refuses to see him, sending him a message instead, Naaman has a tantrum and yells,

“I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand there to call on the name of the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the place, and thus cure the leprous spot!”

Naaman then “turned about in anger and left,” (2 King 5:12).

Sound familiar?

How often do we expect God to come as we say and when we say?

Naaman was an army commander and therefore expected people to do what he said. Aren’t we all a bit like that?  We expect control of our situations. When God does not respond as we want, we are easily tempted to question His motives and fall into the sin of pride. We become angry and demand why, “Why did you not heal/fix this?” which can be translated, “Why are You not doing what I tell You to do when I tell You to do it?”

What we can learn from Naaman is that God wants so much more than just healing Naaman of his leprosy, He wants Naaman for His own. God desires to be seen and known by Naaman. Had it been as Naaman expected, he could have assumed his healing was due to his own efforts in visiting the prophet.

He would have been healed, but never encountered God, the Source of all healing.

It is normal for us to do the same. We think praying x-number of Rosaries, keeping the Sacraments and/or offering our devotional prayers regularly will secure all the blessings we ask for. They are necessary to be sure, but if our attitude is one of control, “If I do this or that I will get what I want,” we may find ourselves stomping mad like Naaman.

What should we do?

Wonderful advice I received is to replace our demands on God to answer our ‘whys’ with an invitation to come into our ‘whats.’

Here’s an example of a prayer of what: “Lord I know You are Good and You want the best for me. I don’t understand what You are doing here.  I feel like You have abandoned me, but I know You never abandon us, so what am I not seeing? Come into this place where I hurt, where I am so angry, and please help me to understand what You are working in this situation.”

This simple change of ‘why” into ‘what’ takes God off the defensive and into the reality of who He is. I have never known the prayer of ‘what’ to fail. I may not get what I expect, but I receive so much more. I receive God’s Presence with me, bringing His light, His warmth, His consolation, and an eventual answer to my prayer that always heals, fixes or restores in ways so much better than I could have imagined!

In surrendering his expectation, Naaman learns the same. He returns at the advice of his servants and obeys the instruction of Elisha receiving the full healing of his leprosy and best of all . . . God Himself!  Naaman says,

“Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel!” (2 Kings 5:15).

Naaman’s conversion in faith was so profound this foreigner and Gentile won entry into Jewish Scripture, and 500 years later, recognition on the lips of God. In rebuking the people of His hometown of Nazareth for refusing to believe Jesus as a prophet, our Lord says in the Gospel of Luke (4:27), “Again, there were lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet no one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”


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.

Lonely? Upset? I’m Making A New Start… Here’s How You Can, Too

I’m writing this as we start a new year; a year when many of us want a new start.

Personally, I really needed a new start. As last year came to an end, I had fallen into a serious funk. At times, I honestly thought I was losing grip on myself. I was suffering from a pile of wounds, frustration, and angst.

My birthday falls at the end of the year. Growing up, that usually meant that my friends were too busy with their families to attend my birthday parties. This past birthday, I wondered if I would even attempt to celebrate at all.

Snapped Out of It

A few days before my birthday came around, I received an unexpected text message. It was a friend, simply asking, “Any birthday plans?”

That simple act of care & thoughtfulness did something powerful. I realized that I didn’t want to start my new year of life feeling the way that I had been for weeks. I wanted to be a different person. I wanted to be happy.

We made plans to talk on the phone. When we spoke, I told my friend about how they had helped me, and I thanked them.

You Never Walk Alone

Last year felt very lonely for me for a multitude of reasons. However, I found comfort in knowing that I am never alone in the communion of saints.

The Church is a “communion of saints”: this expression refers first to the “holy things” (sancta), above all the Eucharist, by which “the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 960

Jesus gave us this amazing gift when he gave us the Eucharist: a celebration that mystically unites us with him and with all who have faith in him—unhindered by the limits of space and time! So, when you are feeling lonely, remember that each time you participate spiritually and physically in the Eucharistic celebration, Holy Mass; you are united to a tremendous family!

The term “communion of saints” refers also to the communion of “holy persons” (sancti) in Christ who “died for all,” so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.

CCC, no. 961

Jesus also gives us the gift of friendship; with himself and with all in his community of friendship.

Friendship is so important that Jesus calls himself a friend: “I do not call you servants any longer, but I call you friends” (John 15:15). By the gift of his grace, we are elevated in such a way that we truly become his friends. With the same love that Christ pours out on us, we can love him in turn and share his love with others, in the hope that they too will take their place in the community of friendship he established.

– Pope Francis, Christus Vivit, no. 153

Begin Again, with A Friend

Two years ago here at Pilgrim Center of Hope, we as a staff began each choosing a friend among the communion of saints with whom we felt called to walk throughout the year.  Each month, we get together to share something we’ve learned from our saint-friend. Through this journey, we’ve found great encouragement and personal growth through our relationships with these friends.

You can do this, too. It’s an awesome “new start” you can take-on in your personal or family life!

Each year, my journey-friend from the communion of saints has been…

  • A Friend: Someone with whom I’ve found things in common
  • An Intercessor: Someone in whom I’ve confided & asked for prayers – and I’m truly convinced that they’ve interceded for me
  • A Role Model: Someone whose virtuous life has inspired me to become the person God has made me to be
  • A Teacher: Someone whose spirituality & wisdom have taught me invaluable lessons

How do I ‘choose’ a friend each year? Perhaps this will give you ideas for your personal journey…

  • My 2019 Friend: Blessed Miguel Pro – I’d been given a relic of his before, and I knew that my family had a connection to him. I’d also heard stories about his sense of humor, and I wanted to grow in not taking life so seriously (a pesky personal tendency). So, I borrowed a book about him and began reading a chapter each month, taking notes each time.
  • My 2020 Friend: Saint Catherine of Siena – I knew very little about her; she was quite mysterious to me. I did know that she had been a bridge-builder between people, and I had been sensing a calling to become a bridge-builder myself. So, I started to listen to an audio recording of her greatest work, The Dialogue. I kept a list of lessons she taught me on my phone.
  • My 2021 Friend: Saint Oscar Romero – During 2020, I kept coming across spiritual reflections that struck me profoundly. Upon looking at the author’s name, I found it was him. So, knowing that he had been a martyr during a tumultuous period in his country’s history, I decided that I would claim him as my journey-friend for the not-so-easy year ahead. Already, I’ve been able to listen to his recorded homilies, and have typed up notes from what struck me.

Are you convinced yet? Now is a great time to “begin again” …and you can! Jesus offers you himself and all of his friends, to help you. Have 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.

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.

 

River Jordan – The Site of Jesus’ Baptism

Come on a virtual pilgrimage with Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox to the River Jordan!  We have chosen this destination because it is the site where Jesus, the Son of God was baptized by John as we read in the Gospels of Matthew (3:13-17), Mark (1:9-11), and Luke (3:21-22).   

During this Journey of Hope, you will discover the following: 

  • The significance of this River which has the lowest elevation of any river in the world and where it flows.  
  • Why is this River so important and visited by people from all over the world? 
  • What insights from this place will help us in our daily lives?   
  • Plus we will incorporate the virtue of Hope and how this virtue can lead us to live without fear. 

Jewel for the Journey

There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice. – St. John Paul II

Listen to this program now:

Lourdes & St. Bernadette

This week Mary Jane Fox will take us on a virtual pilgrimage to Lourdes, in Western France. Visit the site where Mary, the Mother of God, revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception to St. Bernadette. Meet the young visionary, Bernadette Soubirous, and be transported to her home, to the Grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared to her, and to the healing baths that the Lady revealed to Bernadette.

Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes
Oh, ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.

Lourdes Grotto Live Webcam
https://www.directfromlourdes.com/lourdes_live_tv

Jewell For The Journey

The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying. – Pope Leo XIII

Listen to this program now:

The Gospel According to You

This year’s events have highlighted an urgent need for you and I to be Christ’s presence in others’ lives.  

Our loved ones, neighbors, co-workers, and the few other persons with whom we have regular contact; have likely had very few experiences of the Church in 2020—or of Christians’ model of following Christ in the context of daily life. Perhaps, too, those few experiences have included news about Church scandals and abuse, with subsequent feelings of betrayal. 

The Importance of a Witness

Now, you and I are not bystanders. We are Christ’s very witnesses. 

If you’ve ever been present for a jury trial—especially for a criminal case—you’ll know the importance of a witness. It is that person’s testimony upon which at least one other person’s life can be changed forever. Their every word is precious, documented. Their gestures, their voice, and their intangible sense of conviction are remembered by all those present in the room. 

These qualities also apply to the testimony of you and I to Christ, because we are Christ-ians. Thankfully, we are witnesses to Good News. But how often do we see it that way? 

Victory of a King

Mark, who was the first gospel writer chronologically, began this way:

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

You might know that the word “gospel” means “good news” or “glad tidings,” but did you know that in Mark’s time, this word was used to declare the victory of a king? 

Not only was Mark’s use of this word extremely bold—placing Jesus of Nazareth in higher esteem than the Roman emperor—but it also reveals to us Mark’s conviction about Jesus. His testimony was about a victorious King, the Son of God. When we read his Gospel, we see Jesus’ swiftness and power conveyed; which is partially why Mark’s Gospel is symbolized by a mighty lion. 

How would you and I begin our “Gospel according to (Your Name Here)”? What would our story convey about how we relate to Jesus? 

In reality, daily life is the parchment upon which we ‘write’ this Gospel; with our words and actions.  

Your Testimony is Powerful

“Be who God meant you to be,” wrote the Italian saint Catherine of Siena in a letter, “and you will set all of Italy ablaze.” 

That is the power of your testimony of life. 

Your story is unique.

  • What is your name?
  • Where and who did you come from?
  • How did your life begin?
  • What struggles have you endured?
  • When did you truly encounter God?
  • Who is Jesus to you?
  • How has knowing Christ changed your life? 
The Mystifying Truth that Christmas Celebrates

Christmas celebrates the unfathomable reality that Almighty God also has a name, a face, a family, was raised in a community, lived, ate, slept, wept, smiled, and yes—suffered, died, and rose victoriously from death.  

God’s love “will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 219; cf. John 3:16). 

Although 2020 has been a time of trial, pain, suffering, and death; we are reminded by Christmas 2020 that Christ took on flesh out of tremendous love for the world. That means you. That means us. His love is victorious over all trials, all pain & suffering, and even over death. In his love, we find life, truth, goodness, and beauty. 

This Christmas Season and into 2021, let us recover the Good News and approach Jesus again. May we reflect on our lives in the light of God’s love, and remember that each day we are Christ’s witnesses. 


Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular print column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter Him through pilgrimages, conferences and outreach. Read the column monthly in Today’s Catholic newspaper.

A Time of Watching and Preparing: “Be watchful! Be alert!”

In Isaiah 63:17, the Lord asks, “Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so we fear you not?” He is writing on behalf of a people that God has chosen to have a special relationship with, and these people have seen the wonders of this God who is their Father. In spite of this favored relationship, the people have been unfaithful. Isaiah goes on to say, “…all of us have become like unclean people, all our deeds are like polluted rags; we are all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind.” If our hope is not in the God who created us, our quest for happiness is only a delusion.

Free Will

All around us, we see the consequences of free will, and yet free will is one of God’s greatest gifts. It is given to us out of love so that we might respond in love. It is possible for any thinking person to discover the reality of the existence of God and to be guided by his discovery. God can be found in His creation for those who have a searching heart.

A few years ago, I read that when Bertrand Russell, a famous atheist, was dying a friend asked him, “When you die, if you see God what will you say to Him?” He replied:

“If I see God I will say, ‘Sir, why didn’t you give us more evidence of your existence.”

Of course, the evidence of His existence is perfect, but it requires us to use our free will, to choose to seek Him. We can find Him in His creation, in His Word, in His miracles, in His Church, in His people, in our life experiences, and in the countless witnesses whose lives have been transformed by his grace. There is an abundance of evidence of the existence of God for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. We have only to call upon His name!

“Be watchful! Be alert!”

We hear an urgent message in the Gospel of Mark, “Be watchful! Be alert!” This is the beginning of Advent; a time of watching and preparing. In great anticipation, we are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah who was born of the Virgin Mary 2000 years ago. Yes, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die, but may have eternal life.” Jn 3:16

We who believe in Him are also watching and praying for his second coming. The Gospel tells us to be alert because we do not know when the Lord is coming in his glory. So, Advent is about the Messiah coming into the world 2000 years ago and about his second coming which we pray for. However, it is also about Jesus, the Messiah, coming into our lives right now, which is the best preparation for his second coming. Our vigilance is not only about being ready when the Lord comes but about living in a relationship with him right now so that we may reach our potential for happiness and be filled with hope.

To be alert requires that we have a plan. An example is our vigilance in anticipation of Jesus coming to us in the Holy Eucharist. We fast for one hour before Mass from everything except water and medicine to help us break free from our normal routine and so that we can focus and prepare to receive Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion.

In addition to this little fast, we should pray, read the Scriptures, and examine our conscience to be aware of any serious sin we have not confessed.

Do you recognize Jesus throughout the day?

Jesus comes to us in his Word as it is proclaimed. He also comes to us in this assembly and in one another; in the person next to you. He comes to us throughout the day in many disguises. We don’t always recognize him. Therefore, be alert! He may come when we least expect. He may be present in the things that disturb or perplex us. He is present right now in the pandemic that has the whole world in turmoil. Has this event caused us to be alert, to draw closer to Christ? Have we increased our time in prayer, asking God’s protection for ourselves, the people we love, and for the world in general? It seems this is similar to an Old Testament event to test the faithfulness of the people. How are we doing? Are we closer to God now than we were at the beginning of the year? Do we see God as the solution to this dilemma?

This is a great time to read about those who knew God was the solution to everything. We see in the lives of the saints how their trust in God caused them to be filled with hope in every circumstance. Perhaps chose one of the saints to journey with you through Advent and read their story and include them in your daily prayer.

Our Father will provide

We also have the sacraments as a source of grace to help us overcome sin and grow in virtue. In the Church, we have everything we need to live a life close to God, which is our purpose for being on this earth. We are watchful and alert by living a life close to God every day; and God who is our Father will provide all that we need and fill us with Hope, Peace, and Happiness.

If our hope is not in the God who created us, our quest for happiness is only delusional and empty.


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.