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Hope Gets Us Through the Desert

Judean Desert

The desert.  It’s hot, unbearable, and extreme. Two years ago, I was blessed to have gone on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the Pilgrim Center of Hope.  From Galilee, we traveled by motorcoach through the Judean Desert to Jerusalem. The heat of the Judean Desert was hotter than any south Texas summer day!   After leaving the Jordan River, we drove through the desert to Jericho.  As we drove, I stared out the window at the horizon that looked so desolate, hot, and dry.  It was mysterious and scary. I wondered what it might have been like for Jesus during his 40 days in the desert being tempted by the devil.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.”  Matthew 4: 1-2

We humans would be uneasy with the idea of being in the desert, alone and powerless against the elements and the unknown.  Although my example is literal, we also have figurative desert experiences.  Perhaps it is an illness, a loss, a temptation, or any unbearable situation that makes us feel completely alone, uncomfortable, or that we simply can’t control.  This is where hope comes in.

What is Hope?

“Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit… (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1817)

“…it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude… (CCC, no. 1818)

A few years ago, my husband and I discovered we were expecting our third child.  At our first sonogram visit, the doctor told us that there was an abnormal image.  He stated that it could be a spot in the image itself or an indication that our child could have lung or other developmental issues.  We’d see a specialist every two weeks during the pregnancy to monitor the baby.  Each day my husband and I talked to each other about it, we talked to the baby, and we prayed–always trusting that this was God’s will and not ours.  So many times, each day I asked God to get us through the pregnancy and to care for our baby; we hoped with all our might.  Through the grace of God and many prayers, the abnormal spot was gone and never came back.  All tests were normal and we went on to deliver our third, healthy, beautiful baby boy.

Our hope was what truly carried us through the pregnancy. Hope gets us all through our own deserts.

As Christians, we are equipped with the virtue of hope.  Our hope is like a help-line where we can humbly ask our Lord to help us persevere through our desert.  Hope nourishes our soul to get us through a day, an hour, and sometimes a minute at a time.

Call to Action

We can never avoid our desert nor should we want to because crossing the desert strengthens our faith.  It reinforces our trust in God, especially in times when we don’t know where the next step will take us.  Below are some practical first steps that have helped me find hope, that will hopefully help you, too:

  • Pray often.  It could start with a rosary, a chaplet or simply having a conversation with God. He loves you and wants to hear from you often.
  • When worry sets in, offer it up.  “Offer it up”, a topic worthy of its own blog, is essentially uniting our pain or suffering to Jesus’ suffering on the cross for the salvation of souls.  It’s fascinating, read about it!
  • Help others who are in their desert.  In other words, offer hope.  You can do this by praying for them or supporting them in a meaningful way.

With the gift of stigmata and as the patron saint of stress relief, St. Pio of Pietreclina, better known as “Padre Pio”, gave the best encouragement in his motto that we all could follow:
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”


Christina Campos is a blessed Catholic wife and mother. Each day brings adventurous memories and so many reasons to be thankful to God. She enjoys volunteering and contributing to the special mission of the 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.

Mary of Magdala at Christ’s Tomb

When you read or hear the Scriptures about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, do you imagine what the disciples must have thought or how they felt when they saw the empty Tomb of Christ? Or what about Mary Magdalene who was one of his followers and witnessed the crucifixion?

She is mentioned in all four Gospel accounts in relation to the resurrection of Jesus. How interesting! The four do not mention that the apostles or other disciples were the first to see the empty tomb where the body of Jesus was placed after his crucifixion. They were informed later by Mary of Magdala and the women with her. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke; we learn that Mary Magdalene and women with her discover the empty tomb and see angel(s) informing them that the Lord Jesus had been raised. He is not there.

However, in the Gospel of John 20:11-18, after Mary of Magdala saw the empty tomb and ran to tell Peter and the apostles, she returned to the tomb and wept. Jesus appears to her, although she thought it was the gardener; she was deep in sorrow.

It wasn’t until she heard her name Mary called out; when she turned and saw Jesus. She then went and told the disciples: I have seen the Lord!

Imagine yourself there with Mary of Magdala, seeing her weep—and then Jesus appears and calls her name. There would be a change in her face; from sadness to an immense joy, seeing her Lord before her! The gaze of the Lord Jesus upon Mary of Magdala transformed her when she first encountered him in Galilee. She was from a predominant fishing village by the Sea of Galilee called Magdala. She was the woman from whom seven demons had gone out (cf. Luke 8:2). Her encounter with him changed her life. She received her dignity as a child of God, began to follow Jesus and provided for him and his apostles out of her resources. Yes, Mary of Magdala met Jesus, believed he was the Messiah, was healed by him, and embraced his teachings. Her fidelity led her to follow Jesus to his death on Calvary.

Mary of Magdala was the first to whom Jesus appeared to after his resurrection, and for this reason she is given the title the Apostle to the Apostles, referenced by Pope John Paul II in his 1988 encyclical Mulieris Dignitatem.

The gaze of Jesus upon Mary of Magdala is a gaze, we too, can experience! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains it well:

Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. […] There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.

Would you like to see the empty tomb? Would you like to experience bending down to enter the tomb where the body of Jesus laid after his crucifixion, the very site where he resurrected? Would you like to sit before this sacred place and ponder what happened here? Would you like to see a prayer area nearby commemorating where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene? I invite you to join us on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land! My husband, Deacon Tom, and I are pilgrimage leaders and have been there 56 times. Yes, I have visited the empty tomb, have venerated numerous times and never tire of it. It is sanctified by the Lord; how can one tire from seeing, touching the place where his body laid? Alleluia!


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.

Catholics on Vacation

The summer season often finds kids (and sometimes adults) languishing in front of screens all day, but it doesn’t have to! Help your family grow in faith while having fun with these great tips from Richard Reyna and Rob & Camille DiMaio.

Create a passport with credits for visiting places named after Mary, Joseph, and other saints, performing an act of service, or performing a play with faith or morals at the center.

Create a roadtrip mix with favorite Catholic radio shows, books and pocasts for those long drives to the beach or relatives in other cities.

Research the namesakes of out-of-town parishes and talk about them before mass with your kids.

…and much more!

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