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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.

‘Fear the Lord’: Does God Want Me to Fear Him?

“Blessed are those who fear the Lord.” We repeat those words in the Psalms.

Even nonreligious people have heard the phrases “Fear God” or “Fear of the Lord,” which have found their way into popular culture, especially here in the southern region of the United States. But are we really supposed to fear God? What does ‘Fear of God’ mean, and how is it helpful for a faithful person’s everyday life?

Where It Comes From

If we look at the first book in the Bible, Genesis, we see the first mention of this phrase in the story of Sarah and Abraham (20:11). If you look in the footnotes of your Bible, you may see this explanation:

The original Hebrew used for “fear of God” is yir’at YHWH, literally, “revering Yahweh.” The phrase refers neither to the emotion of fear nor to religious reverence of a general kind. Rather it refers to adherence to a single deity (in a polytheistic culture), honoring that deity with prayers, rituals, and obedience. – cf. New American Bible Revised Edition

I first discovered this distinction as a teacher for high school religious education. The discovery reminded me how important it is for us to put things into their proper context when we read the Bible. The translation of Scriptures from their original languages is a very difficult process that involves not only definitions, but also cultural inferences.

So, when we see the command, “fear your God” throughout the Scriptures, we can be assured of its meaning; as Jesus later told a scholar:

You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. (cf. Matthew 22:36-40)

The Other Kind of Fear

But perhaps you do have some fear related to God or religion. Today, we commonly use the word “fear” to refer to an emotion that causes dread, horror, and even trauma. What does our faith tradition teach us about this type of fear?

Back again in the Book of Genesis, we see that Adam and Eve, after committing the original sin, hide themselves from God. When God asks Adam why he hid, Adam responds, “Because I was afraid” (cf. Genesis 3:10). This type of fear stands in contrast to Adam and Eve’s previous, harmonious relationship with God and one another (cf. Genesis 2:8-25).

When angels appear in the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible, one of their first messages each time is, “Do not be afraid!”

Throughout the gospels, Jesus often exhorts people not to give in to this kind of fear. There are too many instances to cite(!), but one of my favorites is:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)

An Expert Opinion

One of the greatest spiritual directors in history was Saint Francis de Sales, a Doctor of the Church. Even as a bishop, he wrote thousands of letters in correspondence with common people about everyday spirituality.

Regarding fear of God vs. fearing God, he said the following:

We must fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear.
&
We are not drawn to God by iron chains, but by sweet attractions and holy inspirations.

If, upon examining yourself and what motivates your faith involvement or choices, you find worry, uneasiness, woe, nervousness, and other unhealthy motivations, then please know that God wants you to be free from that kind of fear!

If—for any reason whatsoever—you find yourself suffering from worry, uneasiness, etc., be assured that God wants your happiness and freedom! Holy fearlessness is what our Christian life is meant to look like. The same Jesus who assured us that we would experience trials in daily life, also said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Saint Paul wrote that God’s hope has always been “that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God” (cf. Romans 8:19-21).


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.

What Sustains You In Hope? “One Alone Is True”

As we are confronted by life-changing issues, where are we looking for the hope for which we long?

If someone asked you, Where is your hope?, how would you respond? We may need to pause and think about it. Have you found hope? Sometimes people settle for compromise instead of discovering true hope, which may require difficult change. The reality is that there is no true hope outside of God’s plan; which is possible for everyone if we believe in him and trust in his promises.

I recently read a meditation written by John Henry Newman; he was a cardinal and a preacher of great eloquence. In his meditation, he writes: Life passes, riches fly away, popularity is fickle, the senses decay, the world changes, friends die. One alone is constant. One alone is true to us… One alone can give us tune and harmony.

The writer is describing God as the One who is constant. God has always been; He is the creator of the Universe, is here present, and yes; he is in the future. For God, time is eternal. For us, time is measured. As Newman wrote, life passes, riches fly away, …friends die. What helps us through time?

I exclaim – It is faith and hope! Faith in the One true, Triune God and His promises… and hope in the One who is constant. Hope is what sustains us and moves us forward each day.

In Hebrews 11:1, we read: Now faith  is the  assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is more than just “knowing” God intellectually; faith is believing in the One who is Creator and Redeemer through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is saying yes to the One who has given us His plan of salvation. When we say yes to the Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Scriptures, the Church which is his instrument of salvation for us; we can live in true hope!

Take a moment to ponder the question; Am I placing my hope in the One Triune God? especially in the most distressful times, and in the times when everything else seems so cloudy.

He is there for us!

God, I need hope! Please see me now at this moment, I need you. Direct me to know you so that I may experience your love for me. Help me to say “yes” to you. Thank you. Amen. 


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.

Have Hope: God Is Present!

In his Gospel account, Luke explains to us the reason why he has undertaken the task of writing his own account of the Good News of Jesus Christ: so that we all may realize the certainty of the teachings we have received (Luke 1:1-4). Luke’s Gospel gives us insight into how we may understand Jesus’ presence in our own lives.

Awareness of Jesus’ Presence

Luke speaks to us about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and return to Nazareth, where he grew up (4:14-21). In the synagogue where everyone knows him, Jesus reads to them from the Prophet Isaiah. After he reads, he sits down, and everyone is looking at him.  He then says: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus tells them that his mission is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus is the one for whom the chosen people have been waiting; he is the Good News.

The best thing that can happen for the people… has just happened! The kingdom of God is made present to them, because Jesus the Word of God is in their midst.

Luke continues: “…all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” They also asked, Isn’t this the son of Joseph? They wonder how this man who has been their neighbor since childhood, can claim to be the Messiah without the proof of miracles?!

As we know from other Gospel accounts, even when Jesus does perform miracles and speaks with unheard authority, few put faith in him. He is the Good News for all time, and yet is often met by rejection.

Why Rejection?

Evidence of Jesus Christ is mentioned in historical writings outside of the Scriptural accounts of his life, death, and resurrection. Yet, two thousand years after his death, the number of people who reject him is growing faster than the population.

We live in the age of relativism, where individuals want to decide what is important for them personally, without regard to any authority or how one’s own beliefs affect others. Primary contributors to this situation are consumerism and materialism, because they can underscore a capacity to isolate ourselves from others and live for our self. This situation leads to loneliness (and sadness), because it is contrary to our human needs and purpose.

God’s Presence In Our Despair

However, no matter how far we drift from God, there is always the possibility of discovering his presence if we choose to have the humility to turn to God in our time of need. He can manifest his presence even when all seems lost.

In 1941 during WWII, Maximillian Kolbe was arrested by the Nazis for hiding Jews from them. He was treated with hatred in the prison camp. One day, after a prisoner attempted an escape, 10 men were selected to die of starvation as an example to the others. One of the men begged for his life on behalf of his wife and small children. Maximillian Kolbe offered his life in the man’s place. The 10 men were forced into a small box-like building, where there was only room enough to stand. Instead of the usual cursing that was heard when men were waiting to die, hymns and prayers were heard coming from the box. This caused an unusual peace to settle over the death camp, and gave hope to the other prisoners. In that terrible place, the kingdom of God was at hand for those who believed.

Often, when we are going through a trial or great difficulty, our temptation is to focus on our dilemma, and in our imagination, it becomes bigger than reality and overwhelms us. If, on the other hand, we would turn to Jesus and ask him for his help, we can be assured that he will give us the grace we need in that moment.

  • It may be the grace to see things as they truly are.
  • It may be the grace of humility to ask the right people for help.
  • It may be the grace to surrender your life to God and to put your total trust in him.

Read what he says to us in the Scriptures and be confident in his providential love and mercy. Here is one of God’s promises:

Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

We are never alone; we always have our guardian angel with us. Whenever we turn to our Lord in prayer from our heart, we can be sure that the kingdom of God is at hand.

Concern for People In Our Lives

We all have people we are concerned about, and we should never give up praying for them. Sometimes, it is the prayers of a loved one that finally helps God’s grace to break into our lives—as in the case of Saint Augustine. Amid his life of wild partying, promiscuity, and other poor decisions, his mother’s constant prayers were answered by his powerful conversion. Then, he realized that God’s presence and love was always there.

You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness…
(Excerpt from Augustine’s autobiographical Confessions)


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.

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.