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Why Read the Bible? | Journey with Jesus

 

Meet the Master: Jesus’ Love

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

Meet Jesus as a man who had friends & family, an Aramaic-speaking Jew.

  • What did he say about love? Whom did he love?
  • How could a loving God allow evil & suffering?
  • Encounter Jesus’ words and actions; informed by history and role models for us today.

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

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When We Ask God, “Why?”

Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us? (Luke 24:32)

The death of Jesus on the cross was fresh in the minds of his disciples. They thought all was lost. They knew he was dead and buried, but forgot that he had prophesied that he would rise from the dead. The reality of what they saw and knew to be true prevented them from seeing that what had taken place was the fulfillment of the Scriptures and the very words of Jesus himself.

The Stumbling Block

Our human logic is necessary to make rational decisions, but sometimes logic must give way to faith. It is not logical that God would become human so that he could be tortured and killed by humans to save us from our sins, and indeed this is still a stumbling block for millions of people who refuse to believe.

For millions, even some Christians, it isn’t logical that Jesus loves us so much that he established the priesthood and the Holy Eucharist so that we can receive him body, blood, soul and divinity in Holy Communion during the Holy Mass. Even some of his disciples refused to follow him when he told them they must eat his flesh and drink his blood if they were to have eternal life. So that there could be no confusion, he repeated this message four times. The disciples that remained with him did not understand the teaching either, but their faith in Jesus was stronger than their need to understand. As Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Finding An Answer

Life is a mystery, and we all will be confronted by situations and circumstances we do not understand. We all have asked and will ask, “why.” The answer can be found in our purpose for being on this earth. We are here to know, love, and serve God so that we can be happy for all eternity.

If we don’t like that answer, we should read the lives of the saints who found their purpose and their happiness in their faithful relationship with God. Many of them died young, lived in poverty with poor health, and suffered many trials. Some of the saints were kings, doctors, lawyers, farmers, husbands, wives, children, and from every walk of life. And yet their hearts burned with love for God because they entered into a personal relationship with him that was more important than anything else in their lives and they experienced great peace and happiness.

Jesus longs for everyone of us to experience that same peace and happiness. No matter who we are or what we have done, Jesus reveals his Sacred Heart to us and desires that we come to him to experience his mercy right now, without hesitation. When we surrender our hearts to the heart of Jesus, we can be confident he will give us the grace we need for every situation, even if we have to suffer for a time.

Jesus, set my heart on fire for love of you! Jesus, I trust in you!


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.

When I First Kissed the Empty Tomb

Looking into the inner chamber of the Tomb of Christ in the modern day; on the right is the place where his Body was laid

We are in the Easter Season – the Catholic Church’s 50-day liturgical season. It’s a time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and it’s my favorite season in the Church’s calendar year. The scripture readings proclaimed every day during Mass are about Jesus’ resurrection, his apparitions before his ascension to heaven, his promises, and the beginning of the early Church. It also reminds me of the Holy Land.

When Tom and I first traveled to Jerusalem several years ago, we were searching to learn more about the land of the Bible, about the land where Jesus walked. While in Jerusalem, we were able to attend Mass in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher that is built over the Tomb of Christ, Calvary, and the surrounding area. After Mass, we had the opportunity to enter a large marble edifice built over the ancient tomb of Jesus. Upon entering, there is a small chamber called the Chamber of the Angel, where the angel stood and addressed Mary Magdalene and the others, “He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:6). Then you must bow very low to enter a smaller area where five persons can fit in tightly. To your right, you see the place where the body of Jesus was placed, wrapped in linen cloth.

Edifice surrounding the Tomb of Christ

Here is where Jesus was raised from the dead, where the resurrection occurred! You can imagine the feelings we felt as we touched this place, and recalled the Gospel stories in our minds. We knelt and kissed where his body laid, we placed our arms on this stone slab, and thanked God for this moment! We thanked God for allowing us to kiss his empty tomb. I remember thinking, “Lord, you know we are here!” It was as if time stood still for us both, recalling what occurred there 2,000 years ago! What indeed occurred there affected us and millions of others.

Even after visiting the Holy Land numerous times, leading pilgrims on pilgrimages; our time spent in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher is always a highlight, as it would be for any Christian! Our pilgrim groups have Mass in the Tomb, we read the resurrection story from the Gospel, we pray, and we receive Eucharist in the Tomb. After leaving the Tomb, we are filled with great joy, with peace. Does it remain with us? Yes! If we continue to follow him in our daily lives.

When I am distraught, or experiencing a trial; I remember my time in the empty Tomb! I will call upon the Risen Lord and recall my time in his empty tomb and other sites in the Holy Land where he lived.

Whenever you need to be reminded of his presence under dire circumstances, think about your favorite scripture story, or a spiritual experience that reminds you of his presence.


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.

Mary, Most Powerful Woman

When you think about powerful women, who first comes to your mind? In December 2015, National Geographic magazine called Mary, Mother of God, the most powerful woman in the world.

Join Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox as they discuss the impact Mary has had on the world since the beginning of Christianity. During this program we will look at Mary’s role as Mediatrix and intercessor, how often she is mentioned in the Bible, and why Catholics revere her.

Message of Hope:
Love our Lady. And she will obtain abundant grace to help you conquer in your daily struggle.  – St. Josemaria Escriva

Living Catholicism is a ministry of broadcast, print, and digital media connecting our pilgrimage of daily life with the faith & teachings of the Catholic Church; produced by Pilgrim Center of Hope. It was a weekly program produced by Pilgrim Center of Hope from the early 2000s until 2019.

Where Is Your Lenten Journey Taking You?

Hopefully this Lent finds you journeying alongside Jesus toward closer union with God. In many ways, this 40-day time of prayer and reflection, in preparation for Holy Week & Easter, resembles the ancient tradition of going on pilgrimage.

While you may not be traveling to a sacred destination, there are some key parallels which may help you to arrive at a place of transformation come Easter Sunday. To be a pilgrim this Lent involves the following:

  • Deviating from Your Regular Routines
    During Lent this means following in the footsteps of Jesus.
  • Traveling Light for the Journey
    Now is the time to assess your priorities and weed out whatever prevents you from traveling the narrow road that leads to life (cf. Matthew 7:14).
  • Hope of Interior Transformation
    Throughout the remainder of Lent, be open to God’s love and his graces

Let’s take a closer look at each of these three points along with some tips on how to make a more effective Lenten pilgrimage.

Following Jesus Christ

To be a disciple, we must be willing to follow Jesus, even when we don’t fully understand where the path is leading. We need to let Jesus take us where he wants us to be. Following Jesus involves total surrender, having an open heart, and trust.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you. – Psalm 33:22

Weeds and Wild Beasts

Mark 1:13 tells us that while Jesus was in the desert, He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. As we make our pilgrimage, recall that Jesus was tempted several times by Satan while in the wilderness.

If we are to make our way out of the wilderness during Lent, we need to tame our personal “wild beasts;” desires or lusts, angers or fears, and addictions or vices. The weeding out and the taming cannot be done alone. During this time, we need to allow God to care for us. If we will seek him out, he will speak to us.

Christ’s Transfiguration Offers Us Encouragement

The pilgrimage journey of a Christian is not easy; temptation and distraction are all around. Any time I get discouraged, I turn to my favorite depiction of the Transfiguration by artist Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo (shown here).

I also recall the time I spent on Mount Tabor in the Holy Land. As part of my Pilgrim Center of Hope pilgrimage, I was able to visit the Basilica of the Transfiguration (at which the photo above was taken). Within days of the feast day (August 6), I found myself kneeling at the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist with my eyes fixed on the rock—visible through a glass window—where the Transfiguration took place.

Every Christian wanting to go on an authentic spiritual journey, should make the trip in their lifetime. Our next Holy Land pilgrimage is scheduled for June 23 through July 4, 2020.

This past Sunday’s Gospel reading of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8), should remind us all that just as Peter, James & John were strengthened by witnessing the Transfiguration, if we too will love Jesus above all else, through his grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will receive the encouragement we need to persevere in our faith journey.

At his Transfiguration, Christ showed His disciples the splendor of His beauty, to which He will shape and color those who are His: ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the body of His glory.’ -St. Thomas Aquinas

Still to come on our Lenten journey – the Last Supper, followed by Christ’s Passion, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection.

Now is the time to check your “spiritual GPS” to ensure that your Lenten pilgrimage continues to prepare you not only for Easter, but for your eternal life in the heavenly Jerusalem.


 Robert V. Rodriguez  is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.

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.

Trusting What God Says About Me

Have you ever been falsely accused?

  • Did a dear one of yours ever accuse you of lying when you didn’t?
  • Have you ever been rejected by someone you love because they misunderstood your good intention as bad?

It hurts.

It is a piercingly deep hurt, not only because you are innocent, but because you realize you are not known by someone you love. You wonder, I would never intentionally hurt them… How do they not know that about me?

This has happened to me, and it brought me to an even more sorrowful conclusion… I have been guilty of the same with God.

So many times, I have not taken God at his Word:

  • As the Father loves me (Jesus), so I also love you. Remain in my love. (John 15:9)
  • You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. (Psalm 139:13-14)
  • Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

I realize . . .

  • When we believe we are unloved… we accuse God of lying.
  • When we hate who we are… we reject God, misunderstanding his intention.

For those who can relate, I would like to suggest a particular Lenten journey this year. Lent is a penitential period in the Church when we intentionally walk with Jesus the forty days he was in the desert fasting, praying and being tempted. We have a traditional discipline in the Church during this time to also fast, pray, and give alms.

Consider for Lent to:

Fast from your opinion of God; read who God reveals Himself to be through the daily Mass readings. Read slowly, ask for the gift of understanding where your opinion of God and his Word clash.

Give alms to God with what we value most: our time. We can hear God’s voice through the voice of the needy. Spend time speaking with or being present to someone who is in need this Lent, and see how valuable and precious God has made you to be for others.

Pray to know the God who is. The one who knows God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit, best is our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. Pray a daily Rosary asking her, “Mary, show me God’s love for me today.”

The best way to know someone is to spend time with them. Add a Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and quiet time where God is truly and really, present: in his Eucharistic presence. So many churches have Adoration chapels. Find one, kneel before Him, then sit and simply speak to our Lord what is in your heart, and let him speak his heart to you. Lord Jesus has told many saints such as St. Faustina and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque how he longs for our company. St. Faustina writes what our Lord told her,

“[…] Why do you not tell Me about everything that concerns you, even the smallest details? Tell Me about everything, and know that this will give Me great joy.” (Diary of St. Faustina, no. 921)


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.

Inspiration from Former Slave: God’s Call for Us Is Possible!

The Lord said to Moses, Speak to the whole Israelite community, and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy. And in the Gospel, Jesus tells all humanity, Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Are we expected to be as holy and perfect as God?

We might dismiss these commands as impossible, but that would be a mistake. God is not commanding us to do what he does; he is commanding us to be who he has created us to be, which we can only do with the help of his grace.

It is for this reason he has given us the Church with her sacraments, the Scriptures and her teaching authority. Through baptism, we have everything we need to live a supernatural life in intimacy with God who created us out of love.

The obstacle we all face is the pressure from the world in which we live, to shape how we look at ourselves and how we plan our future. In the second reading we are told, For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God… Yes, it is necessary for us to advance our education and understanding of the things that make us responsible citizens. However, when the wisdom of this world contradicts the wisdom of God, there will be consequences that will cause turmoil and the loss of hope.

An Amazing Example

Recently, I watched a movie about St. Josephine Bakhita. She was kidnapped as a child from a wealthy family in Sudan by slave traders and sold into slavery. She was tortured and frequently beaten for many years until by providence she was temporarily placed in a convent in Italy while her mistress traveled on personal business. During her time in the convent, she learned about the love of God and was attracted to the religious life. When her owner returned to reclaim her, she refused to leave and was eventually granted her freedom through the courts. Her new life and vocation brought her great joy; she said if she would ever meet those who sold her into slavery, she would kneel and kiss their hands because it was through her terrible fate that she discovered the love of God and her new life in service to him.

She received the sacraments of the Church by Archbishop Giuseppe Sarto who later became Pope Pius X. Bakhita was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000.

St. Josephine Bakhita, who was known for her deep prayer life and for totally giving herself in the service of God and others, has received the perfection that we all hope for and that is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven. We may never experience the terrible sufferings of St. Josephine Bakhita, but we must choose God above all else as she did.

Perseverance & Inspiration

The trials and suffering we experience in this life are an opportunity to draw close to Christ and receive the grace he will offer us if we approach him with sincere and contrite hearts. If we persevere in faith and make every effort to over come sin and grow in virtue, with God’s grace, we will be as holy and perfect as is necessary to live in Christ’s presence in heaven.

One of the treasures of our Catholic faith is the vast collection of stories about men and women who became saints during their life on earth. Their lives are so amazing; they have inspired other men and women to become saints! We can learn from them how to deepen our faith and trust in God when we are faced with trials and discouragement. Every saint we read about experienced difficult and sometimes severe circumstances, and yet they were still filled with great joy and happiness because of God’s grace. I encourage you to prayerfully choose a saint to read about and to ask for their intercession during your morning prayer. You will be glad you did.


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.

Jericho – West Bank, Palestine

Join Mary Jane Fox & Robert Rodriguez as they journey to Jericho, the oldest city in the world, located in the Jordan Valley of Palestine. During this program we will talk about:

  • The Christian pilgrimage sites which are located in the area
  • The time Jesus spent here as mentioned in Scripture
  • What we can learn from Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, and Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who each encountered Jesus in Jericho

Jewel for the Journey:
When darkness surrounds us and our soul is blind and restless, we have to go to the Light, like Bartimaeus. Repeat, shout, cry out ever more strongly, Domine, ut videam! – Lord, that I may see… And daylight will dawn upon you, and you will be able to enjoy the brightness He grants you. (Furrow #862)
— St. Josemaria Escriva

Listen to this program now:

Image credit (CC-BY-SA 3.0) Dmitrij Rodionov, DR

 

An Example to Follow: Inspiration for My Ordinary Life

As my birthday approaches, and with it my sixtieth year of life, reality has been tapping me on the shoulder and whispering, “You have more years behind you than those which are to come.” This message could tempt me to despair. It could make me anxious. It could invade my peace with thoughts like, “I am running out of time to do anything extraordinary with my life!”

Thankfully, we have the “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) in our Communion of Saints who show that God can transform our ordinary into his extraordinary at any age. We have young saints like Jacinta who was only seven when the Blessed Mother appeared to her at Fatima. We have old saints like Elizabeth who became the mother of St. John the Baptist in her advanced age. Considering my current state in life, it is the witness of St. Elizabeth I have been pondering lately.

St. Luke’s Gospel writes of the advent of the long-hoped for Messiah by first telling Elizabeth’s story…

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. (Luke 1:5-7)

Like the long liturgical time that precedes the Church’s season of Advent, Elizabeth’s story is marked by its ordinariness. Of all the pivotal players at God’s incarnation which include Mary, Joseph and Zechariah, Elizabeth is the only one who did not get a visit by an angel. Her barrenness and old age would seem to disqualify her from producing anything of worth; yet it was the Lord Jesus who said of Elizabeth’s son, I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John (Luke 7:28).

And what did Elizabeth really do? Surely becoming pregnant at an old age is unusual, but not unprecedented. When Sarah gave birth to Isaac, she was in her nineties (Genesis 17:17). Elizabeth did what is ordinary for a woman; she bore life into the world.

St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High,” John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom,” whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 523)

To which I symbolically drop the mic exclaiming, “…and his mother is Elizabeth!”

There are two messages we can learn from the example of St. Elizabeth.

Firstly, God views humanity differently than we see ourselves.

To God, Elizabeth was not barren, she was patient. We read that along with her husband, she was righteous in his eyes and obedient to his law. Unlike her husband, she was not struck mute due to a failure to believe (Luke 1:20). Despite her lack, she remained full of faith. In fact, God respected her so much that it was to St. Elizabeth he gave the honor of announcing to the world that the Son of God does indeed dwell among us.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,

Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. (Luke 1:41-45)

Secondly, God chooses us to play our part in his mission.

We each have our role to play in God’s Salvation Story. He is the hero. He is the protagonist, but he shares through grace all that each of us needs to join in his story, his mission. He states in the Gospel according to John 17:20-23:

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

St. Elizabeth answered blamelessly to God’s call for her by fulfilling her vocation to womanhood. She did so in many ways:

  • Through physical motherhood by giving birth to St. John the Baptist
  • Through the fertility of her will by remaining open to God’s plan for her
  • Through her spiritual fecundity in praising God with such boldness it sparked the Mother of God to proclaim:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever. (Luke 1:46-55)

Let us follow the example of St. Elizabeth to:

  • Be docile to God’s will and timing however long it takes
  • Remain steadfast in faith in him no matter what
  • Praise God and encourage others always
  • Welcome all who come to us in haste, whether holier than us or not
  • Put our life and vocation in God’s hands, confident he will be the one to exalt us

…so that others will follow 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.