Posts

Jesus: Where Peace is Found

In an Angelus address, Pope Francis teaches us where we can find the peace that lasts.

He says,

Today’s Gospel passage (cf. Mk 1:21-28) tells of a typical day in Jesus’ ministry; in particular, it is the Sabbath, a day dedicated to rest and prayer: people went to the synagogue. In the synagogue of Capernaum, Jesus reads and comments on the Scriptures. Those present are attracted by his manner of speaking; their astonishment is great because he shows an authority that is different to that of the scribes (v. 22). Furthermore, Jesus shows himself to be powerful in his deeds as well. Indeed, a man of the synagogue lashes out, addressing him as the One sent by God: He recognizes the evil spirit, orders him to leave that man, and thus drives him out (vv. 23-26).

Jesus preaches with his own authority, as someone who possesses a doctrine derived from himself, and not like the scribes who repeated previous traditions and laws that had been handed down. They repeated words, words, words, only words […] that is how they were. Just words. Instead, Jesus’ words have authority; Jesus is authoritative. And this touches the heart. Jesus’ teaching has the same authority as God who speaks. 

Peace over Discord

Our instinct from experience teaches us that when we watch the news, read articles, and listen to people, we need to be wary of trusting what we see, read and hear. This constant need to hold up to judgment all information, assuming it is at least a half-truth and more than likely false, makes us skeptical people. We doubt everything.

This way of being causes unrest; discord. We lack the peace; tranquility that comes from believing we are receiving truth from what messages come at us.

Pope Francis explains why in Jesus we find true peace:

Indeed, with a single command, he easily frees the possessed man from the evil one and heals him. Why? Because his word does what he says.

To find the peace that only Jesus can provide takes some effort on our part. Specifically, we need to know what He says so we can understand what He will do in us.

This is done by reading Scripture, especially the Gospels. Pope Francis guides us in this:

Always, do not forget, carry a small copy of the Gospel in your pocket or in your bag, to read throughout the day, to listen to that authoritative word of Jesus. And then, we all have problems, we all have our sins, we all have spiritual afflictions; let us ask Jesus: “Jesus, you are the prophet, the Son of God, the one who was promised to us to heal us. Heal me!” Asking Jesus to heal our sins, our ills.

Choose to Believe

When I was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we visited Tabgha; the place where Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fishes, feeding over 5000 people. See Matthew 14:13-21. A Church is built over the rock where Jesus performed this miracle. As I prayed there, kneeling in front of the Tabernacle where our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament, I heard Him speak in my heart,

“I still perform miracles. What do you want multiplied?”

My instinct is to doubt, but instead, I choose instead to believe. I take the Lord at His word and I answer Him, “Charity, Lord. I need charity.”

It has been almost seven years since that pilgrimage, and to this day, I feel our Lord’s charity filling me to overflowing . . . and bringing His Peace along with it!

Peace is found in Jesus Christ.

Here are 3 steps to finding Peace:

  1. Read and Meditate on what Jesus did and said in the Gospels.
  2. Ask Jesus to act through His Word. He loves when we remind Him of what He speaks through Scripture. Do not hesitate to ask big!
  3. Do not doubt; choose to believe He will act as He says.

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.

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.

Self-Love is Not Selfishness

Photo of women attending the 2019 Catholic Women’s Conference.

I recently heard a brief presentation about Self-Love by Dr. Margarett Schlientz, a woman whom I admire because of her deep love for God and her spirituality.  Her message was encouraging, consoling, and provided direction in helping us combat the lack of self-love:    

Self-Love, she explains, is the basic entity of our humanity.  Self-Love is turning every flaw toward compassion, forgiveness, and understanding and accepting your negative thoughts, strengths, and weaknesses.   

Created in God’s Image

Think about it – we were created in God’s image, in His love.  He breathed life into us and gave us a heart to love.  However, due to negative experiences, wounds or false expectations, we end up being hard on ourselves which can result in sadness.   

The Son of God, Jesus, gave us the two Greatest Commandments related to Love; Jesus said: 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39). 

Note the last few words, …Love your neighbor as yourself.  Here is Self-Love! We are called to live a radical and true love, and it begins with loving God first, the source of love. 

How to combat the lack of self-love

Dr. Margarett lists some steps to combat the lack of self-love:  

  1.  Do things you love and take time for yourself.  Our lives may be caught with a lot of activity and work that may prevent us from doing things we really enjoy.  I believe this is where we need to mark time out in our calendar for ourselves, so we don’t allow time and the busyness of life to control us.   
  2. Learn to say “no” without guilt.  This is where the virtue of prudence is helpful. Prudence helps us manage our time and balance our day.  By being prudent, we can think wisely before making decisions.   
  3.  Don’t expect perfection.  Learn to forgive yourself and be compassionate with yourself.  We all make mistakes, and we need to realize that nothing is completely perfect.  The virtue of patience is important here.  By being patient, we realize we need to try again.  Dr. Margarett states When we have Self-Love, we can openly own our mistakes and work toward changing them. 
  4. Do good for someone else.  A young man shared with me how much he enjoyed doing good for someone else.  His mother passed away recently, and as her caregiver for years, he learned so much about love, especially his love for his mother and he gained a deeper realization of his own self-respect.  Now that she was gone, he wants to continue to do good for others.  He said:  “ To help others is to be human, to be caring, to be aware of others’ needs.   
  5. Think of all the good you have done.  Take time to think of good things you have done, whether it was recent or those times in the past when you did good and others benefitted.   

Dr. Margarett concludes:  

Self-love is not selfishness, it is owning the gifts God has given you, God’s presence within you and all the ways He calls you to utilize the best of who you are. 

Now is the time to heed this message, remember you are not alone.  God is with you and will guide you.       

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) 


Even in this time of COVID-19 protocols, many Catholic Churches make Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament available for her faithful. Contact your local parish for days/times.  At Pilgrim Center of Hope, you are welcome to visit our Gethsemane Chapel and spend time with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The chapel is open as the Center is open, usually Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-5:30 pm. Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org or contact us at 210-521-3377.

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.

Meet the Master: Jesus’ Peace

You are invited to spend a morning of reflection on Jesus’ peace with Pilgrim Center of Hope.

  • Enter into relevant Scripture, to encounter Jesus in his words and actions.
  • Receive relevant direction and elaboration from the Church tradition and teaching.
  • Be introduced to a role model of faith; a saint who helps us understand Jesus’ peace.

Presenter: Angela Sealana

 

To Participate: Simply show up at this website by the starting time listed! The video will be here for you to watch along. To participate in the live chat, watch from our Facebook page.

Cost: Pilgrim Center of Hope is a non-profit evangelization ministry, sustained only by donations. While there is no required fee for attending, 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!



Materials for this Morning of Reflection

Your Feedback

3 + 0 = ?

Fear God? | Journey with Jesus

 

Conquering Fear | Journey with Jesus

Jesus, I Ask for Peace | Journey with Jesus

 

A Plan of Fulfillment & Assurance

There are four accounts of the Gospel in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each one is unique and offers us fulfillment and assurance.

One specific passage, which is one of my favorites, is from Matthew 11; verses 28-30:

 Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

These words from the Son of God are simple, direct and meek; and yet these words are an invitation from the heart of Jesus Christ.

Come to me are the words of the Master, the Son of God. He calls everyone to come to him.

In ancient Palestine, 2000+ years ago, Jesus spoke these very words to crowds following him. Many were helpless. They were weighed down by daily burdens. They were living under Roman Occupation, which wasn’t a just situation for everyone. The people witnessed persecution and even criminals crucified.

Jesus, the Lord, does not focus on the negative or the burdens. He first invites and then refreshes. He assures them—and us today—through his Word, about taking the weight off of us.

Jesus is telling us, “Dare to trust me!”

How many of us remember as children, running to our parents or a grandparent after falling down or after being hurt; yearning for the warm acceptance and gentle caress of someone who sincerely cares for us? Didn’t our tears go away shortly after?

Accepting the Invitation

We, too, can run to Jesus, the Lord. God created man as a rational being, conferring on each one of us the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his or her own actions.

Yes, part of who we are as a rational being, with dignity of a person who can control our own actions, is the Will. The will is free, having the ability to choose. Archbishop Fulton Sheen expressed this concept well:

There is one thing in the world that is definitely and absolutely your own, and that is your will. Health, power, life, and honor can all be snatched from you, but your will is irrevocably your own.

Let’s listen to what the Church asserts about our will:

God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel, so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2730)

Perfection here means fulfillment, completion.

This is the plan of God for us today! In using my will, I have a choice to live the faith daily, to read the Gospel and be given the assurance needed to bring true peace into my soul.

Jesus is offering us something that the world cannot offer: an invitation to come to him and discover a plan that will lead us to rest and walk with him no matter who we are, where we are in our walk or position, or what we have right now.

His promise is his plan for us, and he includes complete rest. This can result in a true joy, happiness, and perhaps with time, a complete surrender to him! No matter how smart we are, how much money or how many things we have, we will never have true peace and rest without God.

Faith is involvement, passion, mind, and heart beating together in an attempt to answer the question of Christ, which engages one’s life. – Fr. Bruno Forte


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.

What Am I Living For? Hope When All Seems Lost

Here in San Antonio, we recently participated in Daylight Savings Time, and we all got “an extra hour” added to our busy week.

How often do you wish for more time?

Life can rush past us so quickly. That is—until we hit a wall; illness, death of a loved one, a financial challenge, relationship problem, employment crisis, etc. Then, it seems we all pause and find ourselves wondering: What is the meaning of all this? What am I living for?

A Man Who Lost Everything

One of the most relatable stories I’ve ever come across is that of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, also called Alfonso. He…

  • had poor health
  • lost his father at age 14
  • lacked a basic education, since he had to drop out of school and take over the family business
  • was a widower by age 31 after only 5 years of marriage
  • lost all three of his children at a young age
  • suffered the collapse of his family business

Having hit “rock-bottom,” he pursued a religious vocation. This required further education. Alfonso bravely enrolled in classes with young people sitting all around him, but he failed to pass.

He spent two years with a spiritual director before entering the Jesuits as a brother. He worked as a school doorkeeper and did odd jobs. Frequently, he was upset with scrupulous thoughts and suffered other mental issues. Finally, he began to lose his memory.

When Everything Fails

Can you imagine hitting as many walls as Alfonso did? (Perhaps you have.)

We all want to be happy. Happiness can be pursued in security, success, health, family, friends… but when we lose what is dear to us, ultimately, we come to question: What am I living for?

Finding Purpose

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez left no speeches or writings. His legacy and humble witness of life are what teach us about living with purpose.

Faced with that ultimate question of purpose and meaning, he could have attempted to wrestle with it all by himself. Instead, he sought a trusted advisor to keep him on track. We can all do the same.

Even after failing his initial attempts at religious life, Alphonsus came to believe that everything meaningful he sought in life was found in God. Although it took him 16 years before he could make his final vows as a religious brother, a life dedicated to God was worth the wait.

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez discovered the reason why thousands of people over millennia have left behind everything they had to follow Jesus Christ. It is also why many people who have lost everything, like Alfonso did, can continue to live with joy.

Jesus said: I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly. (cf. John 10:10)

Dare to seek a God who gave everything for you. Dare to ask Jesus: I need hope. Show me the abundant life that you came to give me.

Are you ready to discover a new reason to live?


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 for nearly 10 years. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

Why Is Humility So Important?

Pilgrims walk through the Gate of Humility, door leading into the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

To be humble is to know the truth about who we are and who God is.

God’s Love for Us

Through baptism, we became adopted children of God, created in his own image. No matter what our physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional strengths or weaknesses may be, it is only in our relationship with God that we will discover our true dignity.

It offends God when we think we do not need him or that we can reach true happiness without his help. It is also offending to God when we think that he does not love us or is not interested in who we are or what we do.

The only thing that stands between us and God’s plan for our happiness is our unwillingness to place God above everything else in our life and to be faithful to what he has revealed to us through the Church and the Scriptures.

A Powerful Choice

When we read the lives of the saints, we see they came from every background… some were great sinners, some were attracted to God from their youth; some lived in terrible poverty and painful circumstances their entire lives, and some were kings and queens. However, they all had one thing in common; they all, at some point in their life, had the humility to make the decision to love and worship the Lord Our God with all their mind, heart, soul, and strength—the only way to temporal and eternal happiness.

Humility enables us to believe the mysteries of our faith that we do not understand. The fact that God became man and died for our sins is truly a mystery, but if we believe it and reinforce that belief with faith formation and prayer, it is life changing.

Remarkable Gifts

It is a remarkable mystery that Jesus loves us so much that he gives us himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. When we receive Holy Communion, we are receiving God!

This is not a casual event; we should be properly prepared and disposed for this personal intimacy with Jesus Christ. This is the central truth of our faith. Do you believe that when you receive Holy Communion you are receiving God? You do not have to understand, but you do have to believe. If we do not believe, we should not receive Holy Communion.

The Lord desires that everyone should receive him in Holy Communion, but he demands that we believe and be prepared. This, of course, is why we have RCIA and CCD classes to instruct us about the truths of our faith. While those means of education are important, they will have no effect if we do not make the personal decision to love and serve God. To be Catholic is a life -long process of learning, growing, serving and surrendering our will to the will of God.

These same truths have been believed by all the saints through the ages who were witnesses of their great love for God by their lives; we also should have the humility to believe them. If we believe these mysteries of our faith, we would never contemplate leaving this Church which Jesus Christ founded or missing the opportunity to worship this God who loves us so much.

Help Toward Humility

It is only in our relationship with God that we receive the grace necessary to do the things we find so difficult by nature. Through the grace of the sacraments—especially confession, the Holy Mass, and the Holy Eucharist—we are able to forgive the deepest hurts and to be merciful. We can be freed from bitterness, resentment, jealousy, envy, and greed. Of course, it isn’t automatic; we must sincerely want to draw close to God and allow him and change our hearts.

If we have the humility to faithfully follow Our Lord in this life, we can be certain that we will be exalted in the next life.


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.