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Finding Jesus’ Peace Today

What do you think of when you hear the word “peace”? A carefree day? A family without disagreements? The absence of war or political conflict?

Recently, I was both greatly challenged and encouraged when I discovered Jesus’ definition of “peace.”

Appearing to the disciples after his Resurrection, “he stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” (Luke 24:36) This was not simply a greeting.

Before Jesus’ death, he had instructed his disciples that his peace was not the common secular peace – Pax Romana; absence of war. He said:

“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)

In the Hebrew language, the word for peace is “shalom.” Shalom denotes wholeness or completeness. Jesus’ shalom is a mutual agreement between persons; not a lack, but a positive presence of serenity. Shalom is a blessing; it is God’s grace made manifest.

If we’re paying attention, we shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus’ peace doesn’t refer to a lack of concern or conflict. The Prince of Peace spent his days precisely with those who experienced difficult situations, and he himself entered into great suffering and death.

Fruit of the Spirit

As Jesus’ followers, then, how can we be truly and sincerely “at peace”, while division occurs all around us?

To pursue peace as Jesus did is not something we can do on our own. Scripture teaches that peace is a “fruit of the Spirit.” Peace is a fruit – or a sign, that God’s Spirit is present.

The key is this; God’s Spirit is a gift to be received. Jesus taught that our ability to have an exchange and shalom with God is contingent on our being reconciled with others.

“If you bring your gift to the altar,” Jesus taught, “and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

The early Christian St. Cyprian summarized plainly;

“God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother. For God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord, and a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

In short: The key to peace is in our will, our heart, from our own choice; to bind and loose the bonds of forgiveness and unforgiveness of those who offend us.

“It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2843).

Experience True Peace

When we are wounded or offended by others, it hurts! We may want to build up our walls and protect ourselves (fear), or perhaps heap injury on those who hurt us so that they will understand what we feel (trouble). Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled or afraid.” When we embrace or act on these thoughts or feelings, our will – our heart – is no longer united with God’s.

God wills good for everyone. “He causes the sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

For us to experience peace, we must choose to will our offenders good and not evil. When we do, we are not excusing their behavior, but we are loosening the bonds of unforgiveness that tie us to the offense.

Then, we can be free to receive the gift of God’s Spirit living within us, and we can experience true peace; the peace of Jesus.

Find some practical advice in Archbishop Gustavo’s pastoral letter, Transformed by Hope: “We need to find a time and a place that allows us a moment of silence. There we can, so to speak, look at ourselves from the outside and review how we relate to our environment; acknowledge what feeds or causes our emotions, feelings and affections; reexamine our ideas, prejudices, perceptions, assumptions, reactions and relationships. Finally, we can encounter ourselves and God. In this way we will find peace and a deep joy, beyond that which comes and goes with different situations. The Holy Spirit will transform us into a new creation and others might discover in us instruments that God sends.”


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.

Nazareth – Church of St. Joseph & St. Joseph the Worker

Come on a journey with Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox, to Nazareth in the Holy Land! You will hear how Nazareth was at the time of Jesus and how it is today. Virtually walk with them through ancient Nazareth and visit the Church built over the home of Joseph.  Learn more about this man, Joseph who was the chaste spouse of Mary, the Mother of God, and the foster father of Jesus, the Son of God.

During this program, they will also discuss:

  • The history of the Church of St. Joseph.
  • The significance of this holy site.
  • Joseph’s obedience.
  • Much more!

Listen to this program now:


Spiritual Exercises for this Year of St. Joseph:

  • Read Pope Francis’ Patris Corde
  • Read John Paul II’s Guardian of the Redeemer
  • Display a Statue, Image, or Icon of St Joseph in your home with a perpetual candle burning by it. Place your intentions there at “his feet”. Entrusting him to watch over you and your intentions.
    • Include the names of your deceased loved ones and friends. He is the patron Saint of the Dying.
    • Joseph as a powerful intercessor before Jesus & Mary for the salvation of souls.
  • Pray to St. Joseph daily.
  • Make an Act of Consecration to St. Joseph.
  • Make an appointment with the Holy Family each week. Spend at least an ½ hour or preferably an hour in Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist if possible; or at home. Include time with Mary and Joseph as well….asking their guidance to help you grow in holiness.

Jewel for the Journey:

“Devotion to St. Joseph is one of the choicest graces that God can give to a soul, for it is tantamount to revealing the entire treasury of our Lord’s graces. When God wishes to raise a soul to greater heights, he unites it to St. Joseph by giving it a strong love for the good saint.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard


Closing Prayer to St. Joseph (The Memorare):

Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power I fly unto you and beg your protection. Despise not O Guardian of the Redeemer my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me. Amen.


A Closer Look at the Church of S. Joseph:


Where is the Church of St. Joseph?

I am the Good Shepherd

In the Gospels, Jesus identifies himself with several titles that begin, “I am…”. For me, the title that is most tender and compassionate is when he says,

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”

Jesus reveals in his ministry that he is the ultimate good shepherd because his purpose is to save the souls of all humanity and he completes his mission by laying down his life on the cross.

Although Jesus Christ completed his mission, he established his Church to carry on that work of saving souls. He built this Church on the confession of Peter who he charged with tending and feeding his sheep. Through the priesthood, he gave Peter and the Church the authority to forgive sins and to change bread and wine into his own body and blood so that those who believed in him might have eternal life.

Priests and Deacons

In an unbroken line from Peter and the Apostles to our present Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests Jesus continues his role as Good Shepherd as they all perform their ministry in persona Christi, which means in the person of Christ. As they minister the sacraments of the Church it is Jesus Christ himself who makes the sacraments effective through them.

Deacons are also ordained into this unbroken line dating back to the beginning of the Church. Though their ordination differs from that of bishops and priests, they are nevertheless called by Christ to serve his flock through the ministry of the Word and other services that require special formation. They can perform baptism, funerals, and witness marriages in the absence of a priest, or at the assistance of a priest. The Diaconate ministry covers a wide spectrum of service to the Church including but not limited to liturgy, evangelization, visiting the sick and imprisoned, faith formation, and assisting the bishop and their pastors as needed.

Consecrated Life

The consecrated life of the religious is also essential to Our Lord’s plan of caring for souls. Through the ages, the religious have been a heroic sign of the presence of Jesus Christ as they educate, evangelize and serve all who are in need. Religious organizations have produced thousands of canonized saints and their work has been indispensable in the passing on of the faith.

As the numbers of clergy and religious continue to decline we all must pray every day for vocations. Certainly, the Good Shepherd continues to call men and women to participate in his work of saving souls. Our prayer is for those he is calling to respond to the call, not only for the sake of the souls they will be helping, but also for their own sake because we can only reach our potential for happiness in this life by following the plan the Lord has for us.

Laity

We see the beauty of Jesus’ plan as he continues to shepherd souls, but what about the rest of the Church? Does he expect the small number of clergy and religious to be solely responsible for the salvation of humanity? There is a huge army that is expected to participate in this saving work called the laity. We are all baptized and have received the theological gifts of Faith, Hope, and love as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Every one of us is equipped and expected to participate in the work of saving souls by praying for the conversion of those who have separated themselves from God and by being a witness of what we believe by what we say and do. If we have experienced God’s love, mercy, and providence we certainly want to share this Good News with others.

When we pray for vocations, we also pray for holy marriages and sanctified single life. Every baptized person is expected to be a light in the world, bringing the presence of Christ into our homes and the workplace. When we read the lives of the saints and hear the stories of clergy and religious, we find that most discovered their calling from God through the faithful witness of their parents. The home is where children should first learn about God’s love for them as they are taught how to pray and ask for God’s guidance at a very early age.

There is no baptized person who does not have a calling from God. When we order our lives to God by a commitment to daily prayer, by living the sacramental life and continue to be formed in the faith through spiritual reading we give God the opportunity to influence our decisions as we continually draw closer to him, and then promises he gives us in the Gospels become a reality in our lives. In addition to the magnificence of creation, the reality of the existence of God should be apparent through the witness of those who believe in him.

How can we follow the Good Shepherd?

If there is chaos in our lives, in society, or in our world there is only one explanation- we, the society or the world are not following the Good Shepherd and the plan he has for us. His plan doesn’t eliminate all sickness, suffering, and disasters but he gives us the grace and peace to persevere with the confidence that he will bring us through. We see this reality repeatedly when we read the lives of the saints. Because God is patient for our salvation, it is never too late to begin anew in Christ. As a matter of fact, we know from his own words that he seeks out those who are lost. He will find his way to any soul that has a humble, contrite heart.

We know the words to say,

“Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.

Jesus, I trust in You.

Good Shepherd, lead me into the security your Sacred Heart.”


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.

Venice – Basilica of St. Mark

Join Angela Sealana and Debbie Garza – a pilgrimage group leader for Pilgrim Center of Hope – as they spiritually travel Venice, Italy, and the Basilica of St. Mark. The Basilica today is really considered to be a combination of Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian culture. It is built in the shape of a Greek cross. Angela and Debbie also speak about St. Mark the Evangelist whose feast day is April 25th.

During this program:

  • Learn about St. Mark the Evangelist. Who was he?
  • Discover the religious and historical significance of a city like Venice having a Patron Saint, especially in those times.
  • Take a dive into the various elements of the holy site.

Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).  


A Closer Look at the Basilica of St. Mark:


Where is the Basilica of St. Mark?

The Compassion of Jesus

Come on a journey with Mary Jane Fox to discover the tenderness and compassion of Jesus. Coming to know about the tenderness of Jesus can make a difference in our lives. We learn about the compassion of Jesus, as Mary Jane reflects on The Raising of Lazarus from the Gospel of John. She also shares an example of how she began to learn to see others with the compassionate eyes of Jesus.


Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey

“Let us remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm, and look forward to the future with confidence.” – St. Pope John Paul II

ENCORE: Mount of Beatitudes Revisited

 

This week’s virtual pilgrimage with Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox takes us to the Mount of Beatitudes!  During our time together, our Hosts discuss the following:

  • What is symbolic about the area surrounding the church?
  • How do we apply beatitudes to our life?
  • What did Pope Francis mean when he said called the Beatitudes, the Christian ID Card?
  • Much more!

WHERE to TUNE IN:

Live – Wed., April 21 @ 8:00 PM

  • Guadalupe Radio Network (South/Central Texas Stations)

… Listen to the archived audio recording on our website, ASAP!

Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org for more information.


Jewel for the Journey

“The Sermon on the Mount is addressed to the entire world, the entire present and future and yet it demands discipleship and can be understood and lived out only by following Jesus and accompanying him on his journey.” – Excerpt from  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI book,  Jesus of Nazareth


What is a Christian’s Identity Card?

 

 

A Closer Look at the Mount of Beatitudes:

 


Where is the Mount of Beatitudes?

Krakow, Poland – Divine Mercy Sanctuary

Join Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox for a virtual pilgrimage to the holy site of the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow, Poland. This is the site where our Lord Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina and gave her his message of Divine Mercy to spread throughout the world. This chapel has since witnessed the prayer of the Apostle of The Divine Mercy (St. Faustina) and the extraordinary graces (including the revelations of Jesus and the Blessed Mother) received by her in this place.

During this program you will learn about:

  • St. Faustina Kowalksa’s life.
  • How Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina.
  • Why the Divine Mercy is so important.
  • Much much more!

Divine Mercy Image used with permission of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.


Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

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


A Closer Look at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary:


Where is the Church of the Divine Mercy Sanctuary?

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher – The Empty Tomb

Join Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox for a spiritual pilgrimage to the holiest site for all Christians, the Tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. This has been identified as an area of abandoned stone quarries just outside the city walls of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. During this program, Deacon Tom and Mary Jane will discuss:

  • Who built the church?
  • How do we know this is an authentic site?
  • What is it like inside the tomb?
  • Much, much more!

Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. – Pope Francis


A Closer Look at Holy Sepulcher Church and The Empty Tomb:


Where is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre?

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.

Via Dolorosa

Join Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox for a spiritual pilgrimage to Jerusalem where the Via Dolorosa is located in the Holy Land. For over 1,000 years, the Christian faithful have traced the path that tradition says Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. During this program, Deacon Tom and Mary Jane will:

  • Draw attention to the suffering & death of Jesus
  • Talk about when the Stations became a familiar feature in every Catholic church.
  • Mention how the Stations of the Cross serves as a substitute pilgrimage.
  • How the Stations of the Cross relates to the life of every Christians.

Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

The Way of the Cross alone defeats sin, evil and death, for it leads to the radiant light of Christ’s resurrection and opens the horizons of a new and fuller life. It is the way of hope, the way of the future. – Pope Francis


A Closer Look at the Via Dolorosa Pilgrimage Experience:


Where is Via Dolorosa?