Posts

How to Bring Light to the Darkness

Several months ago while watching an episode of a streaming show that boasts a very talented cast and an intriguing storyline, I told my husband I could not watch the series anymore. I felt sick to my stomach and my husband said he felt the same. It was not because the show was violent or gruesome.

The reason is because in none of the characters was there a redeeming quality to be found. None of them was striving to be a better, kinder person. No one was concerned for the interest of another. Each character lived his or her life with the belief that ‘looking out for myself’ is the only good worth choosing. It made me wonder if this is what hell is like.

Last week, I decided to finish the season and watch the last two episodes. Each character received the sad consequences of his or her many selfish choices. For one this meant suicide. For the others, it was the realization of how the choices they made played a part. The final episode ended with each character facing the reality of death. Not a ray of hope could be found as the show faded into dark.

In none of the episodes did any character speak of faith in God or have anyone in their life who did. The name of our Lord Jesus Christ was spoken often but only in vain to curse their circumstances and each other. Though I highly doubt I will tune in again, I am grateful that I finished the season because it helped me to see the vital importance of bringing the light of Jesus Christ as hope in the lives of others.

Bring Light In A Creative Way

I know sharing our faith with someone can be difficult. A family member of mine with little to no faith often took our Lord’s name in vain. I lacked the courage to confront him about it, so I chose another tactic. I would tag on “Our Lord and Savior” to his, “Jesus Christ!” The first time he looked at me strangely and I said, “I am turning your curse into a blessing.” He smiled at this, but he never stopped. Neither did I. This man died a few years ago after a bout of cancer. This tiny light of Jesus I brought to this man gives me hope that when he encountered Jesus at his death, he knew exactly what to say, “Our Lord and Savior!” I pray he did.

Jesus’ Demand

In Jesus’ revelations to St. Faustina which she recorded in her diary of Divine Mercy (742), He told her,

“I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbor always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try and excuse yourself from it. I am giving your three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first by deed, the second by word, the third by prayer.”

Be A Light In A Dark World

When we step out in faith, expect to be rejected. This should not stop us. In Scripture, we read of many times Jesus was rejected, and most sadly, by His own family and neighbors (Luke 4:14-30). Our Lord Jesus continues to be rejected by those who do not know His Goodness and Love. With more and more people lacking faith, it could just be that the only light of Jesus Christ in a group of people is you. Let us not shrink from these opportunities or excuse ourselves.

When you know you should bring His Light, but are afraid, ask the Holy Spirit for courage and find peace in the knowledge His Mercy flows through us regardless of the response. You will feel uncomfortable and that is normal. Do it anyway. As our world is quickly moving from fading to tumbling into darkness, bring the light of Jesus Christ to everywhere you go. Be the ray hope this world so desperately needs.


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.

Merciful Love | Journey with Jesus

Meet the Master

The Mercy of God | Meet the Master

You are invited to spend some time with Pilgrim Center of Hope and reflect on the Mercy of God!

Think about the times you wondered where you would find answers to situations that brought anxiety. Did you find yourself crying out to God in those moments or simply start running away from the situation? Mary Jane shares and invites us to ponder 1 Peter 1:3. This rich passage gives a wonderful example of the great mercy of Jesus Christ, which can give us new birth into a life of hope!

Mary Jane also takes a dive into the virtue of fortitude, which can help us overcome temptation.

Meet the Master is a monthly audio retreat from Pilgrim Center of Hope, bringing you into an encounter with Jesus every first Friday.

Presenter: Mary Jane Fox

To Participate: Tune in to our podcast of the same name, on the first Friday of every month. The audio will be here for you to listen along or you can subscribe to Meet the Master on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Amazon Music, or YouTube (audio only). Please leave a comment on the YouTube video or Facebook post that corresponds to this episode or you can send us an email at ministry@pilgrimcenterofhope.org.

Cost: Pilgrim Center of Hope is a non-profit evangelization ministry, sustained only by donations. While there is no required fee for our content, please consider donating a one-time gift or showing your support with a monthly donation. Every bit helps this mission of hope to continue. Thank you!

We especially would like to thank, the family of Valentin Campos III & Christina Campos, for sponsoring this episode of Meet the Master! Pilgrim Center of Hope is grateful for all our Missionary of Hope supporters who make possible everything we do.


Podcast Episode


Reflection Material


Your Feedback

0 + 1 = ?


Subscribe & Stay Up-to-Date

 

YouTube

If you have a Google account, subscribe to our YouTube channel! Click the YouTube image above & then click the red “Subscribe” button on our channel. You can use the “bell” icon to choose how often you receive notifications about new videos.

Subscribe and listen to Meet the Master at any of the options below.

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Spotify  Listen on Google Podcasts  Subscribe via RSS Feed

Surprised by Truth | Journey with Jesus

A NEW JOURNEY: Jerusalem – St. Anne Church & Sacred Music

Come on a journey with Angela Sealana as she guides us in an audio pilgrimage to the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem, built over the Virgin Mary’s birthplace, the home of Mary’s parents Sts. Joachim and Anne.

During our journey, we will:

  • Learn about the history of this famous church and the City of Jerusalem itself
  • Take you on a guided walk through the Church –what you would see, experience, and hear as a pilgrim
  • Learn about the history of sacred music along with various samples, and will define some terms like Gregorian chant, Byzantine, etc.
  • Much more!

Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

“There is the music of heaven in all things, but we have forgotten to hear it until we sing.” – St. Hildegard of Bingen


Sacred Music Clips In this Program:


A Closer Look at St. Anne Church:


Video clip demonstrating the church’s extraordinary acoustics; Fr. Victor Shoemaker singing the Salve Regina


Where is St. Anne Church?

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

In the Gospel of Matthew, someone identified as the rich, young man, said to Jesus,

“Teacher, what must I do to gain eternal life?”

Matthew 9:16. Jesus tells him he must keep the commandments. The young man said, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him,

“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions” (Matthew 19:20-22).

The young man had the wisdom to be concerned about his salvation, but not the will to overcome his attachment to possessions. He was hoping Jesus would suggest something he could do on his own, like keeping the law. Jesus invites him to do something he can only do with the help of grace, to put his total trust in God and in his providence. This is the same reality for every vocation; religious, married, or single. Every vocation is a call to holiness, and we can only be holy with God’s help. As Jesus said, “For human beings this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.

How Do I Discover God’s Plan For Me?

Our heavenly Father has a wonderful plan for every baptized person, but that plan can only be discovered and lived in communion with him. For this reason, Jesus Christ established his Church and the Sacraments so that every baptized person will have access to the grace that is necessary to live the plan that will allow us to reach our potential for happiness now and forever.

Jesus said,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:5).

To be poor in spirit is to be totally dependent on God, no matter who we are or what we have. It is to know that every good thing comes from God and he expects us to be good stewards of his gifts. There are many saints in our Church history, and even in these present times, that had vast wealth which they put at the service of God for the sake of worship, education, medicine, and a variety of other resources for those in need.

To be poor in spirit goes beyond our financial status. There can be many things we are tempted to cling to that can be an obstacle to our relationship with God. We can be reluctant to give up an ideology that is in conflict with Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church. We can hold on to addictions because it seems easier than the struggle to break free. Often times it is a relationship that can pull us away from God’s plan for us.

How Do I Stay Close To Jesus?

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and the answer to all the dilemmas that make up our life experience. He is the gentle Good Shepherd that invites us to draw close to him in daily prayer so that he can lead us away from the dangers that can trap us. Staying close to Jesus by frequenting the sacraments and praying together with family and friends will not only ensure our own happiness and salvation, but it will also ensure the vocations that are necessary for the life of the Church and the salvation of souls.

“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort.  You were made for greatness.”  Pope Benedict XVI


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.

Meet the Master

Surprised by Jesus | Meet the Master

You are invited to spend some time with Pilgrim Center of Hope and reflect on being surprised by Jesus!

Have YOU ever been surprised by Jesus? How did you feel? In the moments after the initial realization of being surprised, we experience something so very special, pure JOY! At times, the surprise is so great, that it can be met with uncertainty or a sense of being unbelievable. Why is this? Today, Jason Nuñez (Pilgrim Center of Hope Media Production Assistant) leads you on a journey through Scripture, to reflect on how surprising Jesus truly is! We will focus on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which itself is the biggest surprise of all!

We will focus on Luke 24:32, talk about the virtue of courage, and Jason also shares a touching personal story of truly being surprised by Jesus!

Meet the Master is a monthly audio retreat from Pilgrim Center of Hope, bringing you into an encounter with Jesus every first Friday.

Presenter: Jason Nuñez

To Participate: Tune in to our podcast of the same name, on the first Friday of every month. The audio will be here for you to listen along or you can subscribe to Meet the Master on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Amazon Music, or YouTube (audio only). Please leave a comment on the YouTube video or Facebook post that corresponds to this episode or you can send us an email at ministry@pilgrimcenterofhope.org.

Cost: Pilgrim Center of Hope is a non-profit evangelization ministry, sustained only by donations. While there is no required fee for our content, please consider donating a one-time gift or showing your support with a monthly donation. Every bit helps this mission of hope to continue. Thank you!

We especially would like to thank, the family of Valentin Campos III & Christina Campos, for sponsoring this episode of Meet the Master! Pilgrim Center of Hope is grateful for all our Missionary of Hope supporters who make possible everything we do.


Podcast Episode


Reflection Material


Your Feedback

1 + 7 = ?


Subscribe & Stay Up-to-Date

 

YouTube

If you have a Google account, subscribe to our YouTube channel! Click the YouTube image above & then click the red “Subscribe” button on our channel. You can use the “bell” icon to choose how often you receive notifications about new videos.

Subscribe and listen to Meet the Master at any of the options below.

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Spotify  Listen on Google Podcasts  Subscribe via RSS Feed

Jerusalem – Mount Calvary and Our Lady of Sorrows

Join Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox as they spiritually travel to Calvary in Jerusalem. This is the very site where Jesus, the Son of God was crucified and where he died.

During our journey, we will hear about Calvary and discuss:

  • What does it look like today and how do we know this is THE place?
  • Why is Mary, the Mother of Jesus called Our Lady of Sorrows? After all, she is in Heaven!
  • How is it that calling on Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows helps us in our daily lives?
  • Much more!

Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

“Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent.” – St. John of the Cross


A Closer Look at Mount Calvary:


Where is Mount Calvary?

Practical Ways to Overcome Worry

It seems we all worry about something.  Are you an expert?

Worry is not just a ‘downer’; it’s dangerous. Saint Francis de Sales—one of the greatest writers on the spiritual life and a Doctor of the Church—wrote, “With the single exception of sin, anxiety is the greatest evil that can happen to a soul. […] If our heart is inwardly troubled and disturbed it loses both the strength necessary to maintain the virtues it had acquired and the means to resist the temptations of the enemy.”

Besides presenting our worries to God in prayer and asking for peace (which are called prayers of petition), how else can we fight the temptation to worry?

Holy Reminders

One practical way that has helped me overcome worry is surrounding myself with ‘holy reminders’ at home and work; such as images of Christ—especially of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Divine Mercy image.

‘Holy reminders’ encourage me to trust God. If I am a person of faith, I must put my faith into action. If I profess belief in an All-Good, All-Powerful, and All-Loving God, I must live according to that belief and surrender my worries to him. “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Learn to Savor

I remember one particular week, when I repeatedly came across a Scripture verse that embodies another way to overcome worry: “Learn to savor how good the Lord is. Happy are those who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)

I had always heard the alternate translation, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord…” but the phrase “Learn to savor” struck me deeply.

When we taste a delicious ice cream or steak, it’s good. But when we savor it, we spend more time appreciating it. When we savor something, its goodness becomes richer and more meaningful.

Once, my spiritual director instructed me to write down things for which I was grateful. This daily practice was meant to be a prayer of thanksgiving, but it eventually became just another task. I was “tasting” those good gifts rather than savoring them.

Take time to marvel at God’s gifts in your life! This savoring is a weapon against worry, because our meditation on God’s Providence re-builds our confidence in his goodness and trustworthiness. Scripture repeatedly commands that we celebrate and remember “the good things” that God has done for us.

Praise Is Powerful

One of the most powerful ways to fight worry is praise.

Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. […] By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2639)

The power of praising God is why the apostles, saints, and popes have instructed us to praise God unceasingly.  Saint Augustine’s famous quotation is often half-quoted: “You (God) yourself encourage [humans] to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

When we worry, we are preoccupied with many things. When we praise God, however, we focus our whole being on God’s Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Mercy, and Love. Prayers of praise fulfill our deepest identity: to be united with, and to ‘rest in’, God.

I have found that the more I genuinely praise God, the more quickly my worries vanish.

So, how does one praise God?  The highest form of praise is the Holy Mass, the “sacrifice of praise”.  Besides active participation in Mass, I most often praise God through hymns and spiritual songs. However, we can praise God everywhere; even when we cannot sing or speak. We simply raise our hearts and minds to God, and rejoice in who God Is.

God commands you to pray, but he forbids you to worry. – St. John Vianney

I invite all you this week to join me in conquering worry, partaking in holy reminders, savoring God’s goodness, and praising God from the heart!


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.

God’s Invitation

In the Gospel of Matthew (19:16-22) we have a wonderful opportunity to consider how God invites each of us into a deeper faith in Him and a personal relationship with Him.

A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”  He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

God Reveals Himself To Us

It seems the young man is the one taking the initiative to approach Jesus, but actually it is our Lord who has invited him. The reality that mortal men and women even know God exists is because He has chosen to reveal Himself to us. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read,

By His Revelation, “the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company. The adequate response to this invitation is faith, (CCC, no 142).

By asking the young man this question, Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good, our Lord is drawing the man out of himself and his own efforts to achieve salvation, but the young man fails to see.

Jesus tries again. When the young man asks which commandments he needs to keep, Jesus skips the first three that focus on placing God first in our minds and hearts perhaps hoping the young man notices. He does not. He responds, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”

This exchange between Jesus and the young man is often what happens in our own relationship with God. We pray for what we need, which He wants us to do, but we fail to listen to how our Lord is inviting us to give Him not only our needs, but our hearts as well. We listen to God by persevering in faith through our doubts, confusion and suffering seeking to know and act in His Will. As the Catechism teaches, faith is  our adequate response to God.

Sadly, the young man fails to respond in faith and leaves when Jesus tells him what he does not want to hear.

God Never Leaves Us

St. Augustine teaches that God is always at work inviting us to Him. He says,

“Our Head intercedes for us; some members He is receiving, others He is chastising, others cleansing, others consoling, others creating, others calling, others recalling, others correcting, renewing.”

When we feel resistance to what we hear God telling us in prayer or through the teachings of the Church, remain constant to Him. Think of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, (John 4:4-29).  Her remaining constant to Jesus despite being way outside her comfort zone paid off in a profound healing and restoration of her broken life. Not only was she converted, her whole village turned to Jesus thanks to her witness of faith!

Jesus promises rewards here and now in this life to those who choose authentic, committed discipleship to Him. He says,

Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.

Jesus was inviting the young man into receiving divine possessions far greater than his earthly ones. Scripture does not tell us if the young man returned to follow Jesus, but we can be certain our Lord never stopped inviting him.

The same goes for us!


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.