Posts

Find Peace in the Silence of Life

We live in the most talkative age in the history of the world. It would take millions of men and women in previous ages to communicate to others the same information which one person today provides in a single broadcast.

Do you think that the love of noise and excitement in modern civilization is due in part to the fact that people are unhappy on the inside? Noise exteriorizes us, distracts us, and can sometimes make us forget worries for the moment. Let’s face it… noise; whether it’d be electronic, people, or even music; can fill us, but not fulfill us.

Almost everyone desires some sense of peace, but we usually look in the wrong places. Jesus said:

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

Silence is a beginning. Mother Teresa explains it well:

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. … If your heart is full of worldly things, you cannot hear the voice of God. But when you have listened to his voice in the silence of your heart, then your heart is filled.”

How does one find God in silence? By opening the door of your heart. A Key that can help open that door: Our free will to choose to begin!

Okay – so we want to start!

Begin 3-5 minutes daily by simply being, not doing anything or reading. Don’t give up if you are distracted. Ask God for His help, the grace of silence. Thank God for silence. Silence in daily life is possible!

  • Eliminate radio time while driving, cooking, washing dishes.
  • Wake up in the morning in silence, (without TV news, or music)

Do not be afraid to be in silence. The fruit of silence can be a deeper desire to pray, to ponder, to think before making choices or decisions. Silence can lead us to peace in our hearts. Remember, Mother Teresa’s words: God is a friend of silence.

You are invited to visit Pilgrim Center of Hope and come spend time in silence in our Chapel, it is open Monday through Friday; 8:30am – 5:30pm.


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.

Seeking Answers from Jesus

As a college-aged adult, I actually looked to Jesus for answers. The frustrating part of it all? Jesus didn’t give me answers.

Following the advice of my parents, pastor, vocation director, and so many other people, in prayer I asked Jesus, “Why is (fill-in-the-blank) happening?” and “What do you want me to do with my life?” and “Should I choose Option A or Option B?”

When did Jesus ever give people satisfactory answers? He didn’t, really. In the gospels, people who questioned him were often presented with a question, parable or a riddle in return. Jesus’ listeners were challenged to encounter God more deeply, to examine themselves, to give themselves in love, and to trust in him and his heavenly Father.

Jesus did not deal out ‘answers.’ What Jesus gave in the gospels was himself.

“Come to me,” he said, “all you who labor and are burdened.” He didn’t continue, “and I will give you answers and solutions to all your problems!” Instead, he concluded, “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…” (cf. Matthew 11:28-30)

You Are Not Alone

Jesus offers you himself, to share your burden alongside you.

If you ask Jesus to fix all your problems and save you from ever experiencing pain, confusion, worry, or anger; he will not do that for you. His own disciples and holy mother experienced all of the above.

Instead of doling out answers or solutions, Jesus will give you himself. I guarantee you that he will do so, one-thousand percent of the time, for eternity, if you welcome him daily.

Having lived through uncommon physical and emotional challenges, I can say with confidence; Jesus’ gift of himself to each one of us is a far greater gift than answers or solutions.

Why?

Without challenges, we do not learn. Without trials, we lack humility. Without suffering, we lack compassion. This is not how God created the world to be, but it is the reality in which we now live.

God chooses the better option, saying: In the midst of this challenge, trial, and suffering, I will come to you. I will share it with you. As we walk together, I will teach you. Thus, the burden will become light.

In many circles, God is accused of being cruel and abusive. On the contrary, we see in the life of Jesus that God does not force himself upon us. In the person of Jesus, God is an unassuming, young adult who willingly takes everything we’ve dumped on him, upon his shoulders. He invites us, by name, to come and learn how to live, alongside him. He gives us his own self, his own life.

“I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly,” he said (John 10:10). Jesus does not call us slaves; “I have called you friends” (John 15:15).

Look to Jesus for Direction

If you are looking for direction, look to Jesus. Don’t look for him to be a floating genie-god who hovers above you, and provides ancient and future knowledge. Instead, realize the greater gift Jesus offers.

As St. Bernard of Clairvaux so well advised;

“Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. […] If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy.”

Look to Jesus, God-become-Man. Look to Jesus the person; so that in looking to him you may know him, and in knowing him you may love him, and to learn from him you may walk with him and his Body, the Church, daily.

This is what gives me joy; not that I have all the ‘answers,’ but that I know Jesus who is Truth. Not that I see where my path will lead, but that I walk with Jesus who is the Way. Not that my life is picture-perfect, but that I love Jesus who is Life. (cf. John 14:6)

In this very moment of your life – with all its complications, aches, responsibilities; I invite you to spend some moments in prayer with Jesus and accept his invitation.


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.

Talking to Jesus | Journey with Jesus

Staying the Course When Praying

 

In the Book of Wisdom (1:13-15; 2:23-24), we see the great plan that God had in His mind for humanity; creating us in His own image. Everything was good until the devil entered into the world and became the source of death because of his envy. Those who remain close to God continue to experience His goodness even in the midst of trials, but those who give in to the temptations of the devil become confused and unhappy. However, Jesus is the remedy for the mistakes we make.

We read in Second Corinthians (8:7, 9, 13-15), Paul encourages the Corinthians to excel in what he calls this gracious act. He is speaking of generosity. The gracious act of Our Lord was to humble himself and become human. Though he was in the form of God he became man. He did not live on this earth as a king in the ways of the world but made his home among the lowly. He was teaching us that what we have is not as important as who we are in relationship with God. Everything he did was to please his Father in heaven. And then out of generosity he allowed himself to be tortured and gave up his life so that we might be saved from our sins and receive life everlasting. When we are generous with what we have for the sake of others it becomes more possible for us to discover the generosity of God.

In the Gospel of Mark (5:21-43), we see two separate people approaching Jesus for a cure. They both believe he can perform a miracle and they make a great act of faith. Jesus is the generosity of God in human form, wanting to restore humanity to the perfection with which it was created. With one word he could have made all things new, but it was his desire and the will of the Father that each of us individually cooperates with the generous gifts he has given us. In baptism, we received the gifts of Faith, Hope, and Charity. As well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit and we became a new creation. Because he also gave us a free will that often puts us in conflict with his great plan for us, he established his Church and the sacraments so that we can be renewed in his love and his mercy. Of course, this renewal depends upon our faith, it is not automatic. In this country, we have become accustomed to efficiency. We expect things to happen at our convenience. God is not efficient. He does things in His own way and in His own time. We can become impatient with God. This is the reason some people look for answers by going to fortune-tellers or astrology among other things. God has forbidden these things because they undermine our relationship with Him.

Staying the Course When Praying

God answers all prayer that is for our good and the good of his kingdom.  In most cases, he requires us to preserver in prayer which helps us to develop a trusting, personal relationship with him. Our prayer will be answered in one of three ways:

  • It may be answered in the way and time we hoped.
  • It may be answered later, maybe much later as in the case of St. Monica who prayed for many years for the conversion of her son Agustin.
  • As we preserve in prayer and grow in our trust of God, we may come to understand that God is answering our prayer in a way we did not expect; it may cause a change in the direction of our life.
No Prayer is wasted

The way we pray can be a measurement of our faith. There is nothing we do during the day that is more important than the time we spend in prayer because this is how we allow God to influence the decisions we make. Without prayer, we become disconnected from God and lose hope. Pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and concentrate on every word that Jesus teaches us in that prayer. Praying the name of Jesus with reverence over and over can bring that peace that only he can give.

Prayer is necessary in order to believe the mysteries of our faith as revealed through the Scriptures and the Church. If we do not spend significant time in prayer, it is not likely we will believe the mysteries that unite us with God in an intimate way. Praying with a humble, contrite heart opens up our mind to the things of God.

Next to our salvation, the greatest gift God has given humanity is the Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much that he gives us himself under the appearance of bread and wine. It is not possible to have a greater intimacy with God than we when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, and yet this gift only has an effect in us if we believe and are prepared. A recent statistic states that only about 30 % of Catholics believe that the Holy Eucharist is truly Jesus. Do you believe? If you have doubts, please humble yourself before God and pray with fervor for the faith to believe in this Holy Sacrament which is Jesus’ gift of himself for those who believe.

Jesus Heals

The hemorrhaging woman only wanted to touch Jesus’ cloak so that she could be healed. During this Mass, we have the possibility of touching and receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, the same Jesus Christ that healed that woman. To receive Holy Communion is life-changing because it requires that we be in communion with the Church that Jesus founded and to believe all that she teaches. It requires us to live a life close to God by frequently receiving him in the sacraments, especially confession so that Jesus can free us of sin and give us grace so that we can do what he asks us to do but can only do with his help.

What God created was good, and even though our human nature is fallen, and we are prone to sin God still has a great plan for us. In Christ and in His Church, He has given us everything we need to live close to Him and experience His generous love and mercy. He expects us to believe in what He has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church, to trust Him, and to share this Good News with others. Your personal story of how God touched your life may help someone else to become connected to God.


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.

Having Faith Even When We Do Not “See”

How do you start your day? Perhaps you are an early riser who goes for a brisk walk and knocks out tasks before the sun rises.  Or maybe you hit the snooze button a “few” times and rely on some brisk coffee to get you going. As for me, I must pray! The minute I wake up, I say good morning to God and thank him for another day.  I also say a morning offering prayer:

Dear Lord, I do not know what will happen to me today. I only know that nothing will happen that was not foreseen by You, and directed to my greater good from all eternity. I adore Your holy and unfathomable plans, and submit to them with all my heart for love of You, the Pope, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen.

This helps me start my day with a fresh reminder that things will happen according to God’s will, not mine.  As the day progresses and things happen, I constantly remind myself that I may not understand why something is happening but I must always trust!  This is how I have faith when I don’t see (which, honestly, is most of the time).  Like everyone, I have good days and bad days and I frequently encounter uncertainties and less than ideal situations. But knowing that God loves me, created me, and has a plan for me fills my heart with joy and peace even on the toughest of days.

O you of little faith

Of course, it’s been a journey for me to get to this place in my own faith.  And the journey of my faith is far from over as it will last through my last day in this world.  But there were certainly times in the past when I worried about so many things.  Too often I feared what I couldn’t see or understand.  I can recall worrying about pretty much everything: whether my plans would work out, worrying about whether I would get selected for a certain job, worrying about ailments. I can recall losing sleep and feeling anxious as the worry consumed me.  Reflecting on it, I can totally compare it to the parable The Calming of the Storm at Sea.

“He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came upon the sea so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, Lord, save us! We are perishing! He said to them, Why are you terrified, O you of little faith? Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey? “(Matthew 8: 23-27)

Other perspectives

This is only my perspective – an adult, a catholic mother, and a wife.  As I pondered on this, I was eager to find out other perspectives.  So, I interviewed my family. I met with them individually and asked:

How do you keep your faith in God even when you do not see?

You can read their responses below:

  • Retirement age: “I know in my heart that there is only one place to go. What’s down the road is something in God’s plan.  He is our only recourse. He is our present help even if we do not see.  You know in your heart.  That’s it.”
  • School-age: “Mostly it’s that you feel God in your heart.  And you could hear him in your ears saying ‘trust me, you’re not alone’ and telling you ‘I am right here beside you.’”
  • Preschool age: “When I pray to God, um, I feel him in my heart pumping.  It pumps like this: pump, pump, pump!”
  • Toddler age: “He comes in your heart and Jesus wants us to share.”

It’s touching how remarkably similar these responses are!

Your perspective

How do you keep your faith in God even when you do not see?

I pray that all brothers and sisters in Christ feel in their hearts the peace and joy of God’s plan!

Trust in him always, especially in the darkest of times.

Leaving you with this perfect excerpt from the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the pure at heart, for they shall see God!


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.

Jerusalem – Church of Pater Noster – A New Journey

Come along with Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox as they guide you on an audio pilgrimage, to the holy site where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. During our time together, our hosts discuss the following:

  • The environment and surroundings of this holy site.
  • Learn about the connection of this place to St. Helena and to the Carmelites.
  • Reflect on the “Our Father,” and how we can share in the faithfulness of the first disciples through this and other prayers.
  • Much more!

Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

“Prayer is the language of hope.” St. Thomas Aquinas


A Closer Look at the Immaculate Heart Chapel:


Where is the Church of Pater Noster?

Pruning My Own Branches

The Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Easter concerned the Vine and the Branches. We will only have Life if we are a part of the Vine. However, the Gospel also spoke about a vinedresser needing to prune those branches that do not bear fruit, that they may bear more fruit. See, John 15:1-2. Here’s the problem I have: can I correctly identify those branches IN ME that are either not bearing fruit or are not bearing enough fruit? How do I do that? At this point, we may be thinking, “I already feel like I have pretty good fruits.” But, then, I’m not the vinedresser, am I?

Practical Ways We Can Be Pruned

For starters, those of us who are lucky enough to have a spiritual advisor are already on the right path because if we are candid, that spiritual advisor can help us identify those aspects of what we do, how we think, who we are. But most of us do not have a spiritual advisor. What then?

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a wonderful way to air out those problems that prick our consciences and tell us that we’re going in the wrong direction. Before we go to Confession, though, we can self-examine by reading through an examination of conscience online or in a booklet to start us down the path with a very good flashlight. How about telling a fellow, devout Catholic friend how I feel about certain people or certain things, that can help us find those pesky dark corners of our lives that need cleaning out?

A man was once trying to make his Lent a successful one, so he asked his wife if she would write down those things about him that needed improvement. She replied by saying “There isn’t enough paper.” Some of us may feel that way at times, but we have to remember that Jesus is Mercy itself. He understands our humanity but also wants us to progress along the road to holiness. We are, after all, called to be saints, right?

Still, needing that flashlight? Read Scripture. Study your favorite parables. The parables are the flashlight Jesus uses to shine light upon those parts of our human nature that cause us to succeed or to fail. The parables are often as much about virtue as they are about the weaker sides of our nature.

These examples of virtue can be found in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Do we strive to practice, and therefore strengthen, those gifts? Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us? Those gifts are charity (or love), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, modesty, self-control, and chastity. (Gal. 5:22)

Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Fruits of the Holy Spirit

So what’s the difference between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Well, the gifts are the virtues, or the seeds, which produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit. “Fruits” are another word for “actions”. So, allowing the seeds of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to take root in us will give rise to the actions resulting from those gifts. Our actions will be born out of the seeds, the virtues, that we cultivated.

Other gifts/virtues/seeds of the Holy Spirit:

  • Witnessing Power (Acts 1:8)
  • Mutual Encouragement (Romans 1:11-12)
  • Ministry, Romans 12:7; Teaching, Romans (12:7)
  • Encouraging, Contributing, Leadership, Showing Mercy, and Spirit of Unity (Romans 15:5)
  • Wisdom and Knowledge (I Corinthians 12:8)
  • Healing (I Corinthians 12:9)
  • Prophesying, Miraculous Powers, Discernment, Tongues, Interpretation (I Corinthians 12:10)
  • Administration (I Corinthians 12:28)
  • Revelation (Ephesians 1:17)
One Last Recommendation

Finally, Adoration before the Eucharistic Jesus, with our spiritual or holy reading. When we take this sort of reading as we spend time with Jesus, the Holy Spirit is there to guide and encourage us along the Way. Choose books and themes from a reliable Catholic source, as we can be misled by the many authors who have decided that the Magisterium is theirs to change. There are so many books and videos that help us to meditate on how to get to where Our Lord wants us to go. Our reading can be a wonderful source for our self-examination, helping us to see ourselves as God sees us, and making those changes and adjustments that are needed.

These are just some ways to “prune” ourselves. Our work now will help us to continue pruning with the new tools we have acquired that are right for the job. Choose any one of these, and soon you will see yourself blossoming abundantly like an apple tree in Spring.


Victor Negrón is a husband, father, grandfather, practicing lawyer, former judge, past-President of the San Antonio Catholic Lawyers Guild, lay evangelist, Board Member of Pilgrim Center of Hope and A Woman’s Haven. Judge Negrón became Board Certified in Family Law in 1987. As a lay evangelist, Victor has served as a leader for Eucharistic Adoration of San Antonio, Inc., and has been involved with Pilgrim Center of Hope’s evangelizing activities since its early years – formerly as emcee for the Catholic Men’s Conference, and currently as a member of the PCH Board of Directors.

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.

Divine Mercy: Where Hope And Healing Are Found

On June 7, 1997, on a visit to the Shrine of Divine Mercy, in Krakow, Poland, St. John Paul II shared these thoughts on the Divine Mercy: 

Those who sincerely say ‘Jesus, I trust in You’ will find comfort in all their anxieties and fears. 

There is nothing more man needs than Divine Mercy – that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God.” 

To him, these were not just words or a nice sentiment to share with those in attendance. He is the epitome of living a life filled with Divine Mercy. Before the age the 21, he had experienced the loss of his siblings and both parents. His brother passed away after treating a patient with scarlet fever, which was at an epidemic level at the time. On May 13, 1981, Mehmet Ali Agca attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square. Praise God, he survived the attempt. In 1983, he visited Agca and conveyed his forgiveness to him. It was an earthly display of the merciful heart of Jesus. Pope John Paull II lived a life soaked in Divine Mercy. It was no coincidence that he passed away on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, 2005. 

We often go through life, defining ourselves by our worst sin. This can continually keep us down. God loves us with his divine mercy. Every part of us that feels condemned, our Heavenly Father wants to turn into a fountain of life.  

Hope and Healing

In times where I feel fearful or uncertain, the simple prayer of Jesus, I trust in you brings me peace. This is a peace that can only be provided by invoking the holy name of Jesus and placing my complete trust in him. In my 40 years of life, I have experienced a sudden loss of a loved one, a foot amputation, endured End Stage Renal Failure, dialysis, and blessed with a Kidney Transplant from a Living DonorThrough these moments, I felt pain, sadness, anxiety, fear of my own death, as well as a feeling of blessed beyond my worthiness. In each of these moments, Jesus, I trust in you helped me rise above and proceed without fear. It has never failed me.  

I will share one of these moments with you. The morning of my Kidney Transplant, I was asked to check-in at the hospital at 9:00am. It was midday when they called me to the back area to be prepped for surgery. For one reason or another, I was in the Pre-Op area for a longer period of time than expectedI was there long enough for several family members and friends to visit and pray with me. Then the moment arrived, the nurse informed my wife and I, it was time. As I said goodbye to my wife, I glanced at the clock as the nurse wheeled me towards the operating room, it was 3:00pm. I thought to myself, Jesus, I trust in you. As the anesthesiologist began to administer the cocktail of medication into my veins, I thought to myself, Jesus, I trust in you. Thanks be to God; the transplant was a success! I learned later, that when my wife walked back to the waiting area, my parents and friends were already praying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy for my intention.    

It has now been 15 months since my transplant. Looking back through the physical suffering and uncertainty, I am thanking for it. These experiences have brought me closer to God and to love him with all that I have. I recall the words St. Faustina wrote in her Diary (entry 57)

Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering love becomes crystallized; the greater the suffering the purer the love.

Call To Action

God is calling you to be an ambassador of mercy. I invite you to open your heart to the person you resist the most with open hands of faith and mercy.

Why you may ask?

God wants more for you.

How could I do this, you may ask? Try this simple pray before you do so:

Lord, help me receive your mercy, so I can bring it to the world. Amen


Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Jason Nunez is the Media Production Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since November of 2020.

Jesus, A Mighty Name! | Journey with Jesus