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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?

Pilgrimage to The Seven Churches

Come on a journey with our Media Production Assistant, Jason Nunez, as we visit seven churches! The Seven Churches Visitation is a tradition that grew out of this time of prayer and adoration. At the conclusion of the Mass of the Last Supper (Holy Thursday), we remember when Jesus asked his disciples to stay and watch with Him while they were in the garden. This powerful journey we make with Jesus, in visiting 7 churches is a spiritual act of mindful watching is a sort of pilgrimage to various altars of repose, in different churches that correspond to each of the seven places, or stations, that were made by Jesus between the Last Supper in the Upper Room to His crucifixion on the cross. Plus, Jason shares a beautiful moment his family experienced while visiting the 7 churches back in 2015.


Listen to this program now:


 Jewel for the Journey: 

God dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. -St. Maximillian Kolbe


A Closer Look at Altar of Repose Away from the Sanctuary:

 

ENCORE: Gethsemane & The Agony in the Garden

Travel along with Mary Jane Fox & Ed Batis to the foot of the Mount of Olives and discover the Garden of Gethsemane. Such a place still exists, the place where Jesus, Son of God spent time.

This program will address these four points:

  • The significance of the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Why was this a place of rest for Jesus and His Apostles?
  • What does it mean to watch and pray?
  • How can we draw strength from our Lord’s suffering?

Jewel for the Journey:
The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is his will. – Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton


WHERE to TUNE IN:

Live – Wed., March 24 @ 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.


A Closer Look at Gethsemane:


Where is Gethsemane?

Where is

What Does It Cost to Be Free? My Experience of Forgiveness

During a Holy Land pilgrimage, I saw a beautiful bush full of soft leaves, red berries and tiny white flowers. Our guide called it Spina Christi. She explains that when dried, the supple branches become sharp thorns. It is this plant which was weaved into the Crown of Thorns and pressed into the head of our Lord Jesus Christ, causing his blood to flow.

In contemplating why God would create this plant knowing its ultimate purpose in his Passion, I realized it is because he desires for his Precious Blood to be poured out for our salvation. He says at the Last Supper, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” (Luke 22:20).

It is important to know that Jesus was totally in charge of all that was happening to him. In the Gospel of John (10:17-18) we read, “I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.”

In God’s Justice, he deemed what is the cost for our salvation. God fulfilled his justice in the Passion and Death of his own son, Jesus Christ. God paid the price himself, “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

Spend time contemplating the Passion, and our only adequate response is gratitude. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced” (no. 1432).

To be set free costs you nothing… to remain free, costs your all.

I encountered Jesus a year following my tubal ligation. I knew when I said yes to this sterilization procedure that it was in opposition to Church teaching, but I was never taught why… nor did I seek to find out.

A merciful encounter with our Lord returned me to the Catholic faith. It was a slow process receiving the grace of forgiveness, as I blamed everyone for my sin but myself. I even blamed God for letting me fall. In the gentle care of the Holy Spirit, I eventually accepted responsibility. In confessing through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I found consolation. However, I harbored a resentment towards the priests who had not properly catechized me. The fault of my sin is mine, but I do not carry this burden alone.

During the pilgrimage, we visited the Sacred Pit into which Jesus was thrown on the night of his arrest. It is carved from rock and is deep at the bottom of a hole that extends from where Jesus was questioned and beaten before the high priest, Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57).

From inside the Sacred Pit, you can hear voices above. I imagine Jesus listening to his high priest (John 11:50-51) condemn Him. I think about His New Covenant priests, the Apostles, who at that time are fleeing, denying and betraying Him. In my hands is the Crown of Thorns. This is a grace of wonder given through the pilgrimage experience. I understand in it that God is acknowledging the injustice of His priests done to me; an injustice He shares.

In that moment of wonder, Jesus looks at me. He wills me to place the Crown of Thorns on his head so he can shed his blood; the price for our salvation which includes those who have trespassed against me.

This is a costly moment. It requires my all.

His gaze brings tears of sorrow, joy and a profound understanding. I know that I cannot stop Jesus from shedding his blood for sinners, but I can stop being the source of his suffering through my failure to forgive. In gratitude to our merciful our God, I pray, “I will to forgive them all, Lord.”  Note this is not a feeling… it is a free-will choice and has required of me multiple offerings.

To my unexpected delight, I soon discover a transformation which can best be described as freedom. This freedom has a divine power that has brought me continual healing, a growing compassion for others, a constant peace, and a closer relationship with God. It is this freedom that Saint Pope John Paul II writes in his encyclical, Dives In Misericordia (Rich in Mercy),

“Forgiveness demonstrates the presence in the world of the love which is more powerful that sin. Forgiveness is also the fundamental condition for reconciliation, not only in the relationship of God with man, but also in relationships between people.”

It is the same as our Lord promised on the Mount of Beatitudes; “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).


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.

The Empty Tomb – Jerusalem

Take a journey to the Holy Land with Deacon Tom & Mary Jane Fox to the holiest site for all Christians, the Tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. This program will include:

  • A discussion of all Scriptural references to the burial and resurrection of Jesus recorded in the New Testament
  • The history of the area where Christ was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead
  • A virtual tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was built over these holy sites
  • Insights from 56 trips to this sacred destination in the Holy Land

Jewel for the Journey:
Only one secret: The closer we come to Jesus, the better we will know his thirst. – St. Mother Teresa

Listen to this program now:

Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org for more information.

Gethsemane & The Agony in the Garden

Travel along with Mary Jane Fox & Ed Batis to the foot of the Mount of Olives and discover the Garden of Gethsemane. Such a place still exists, the place where Jesus, Son of God spent time.

This program will address these four points:

  • The significance of the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Why was this a place of rest for Jesus and His Apostles?
  • What does it mean to watch and pray?
  • How can we draw strength from our Lord’s suffering?

Jewel for the Journey:
The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is his will.
– Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Listen to this program now:

Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org for more information.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

Come on a journey with Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox to this ancient basilica, shared by many faiths. It encompasses the site of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, anointing, and burial, as well as many other ancient tombs and chapels.

Jewel for the Journey

Pope John Paul II during Mass in the Holy Sepulcher Church in 2000: “From this place, where the Resurrection was first made known to the women and then to the Apostles, I urge all the Church’s members to renew their obedience to the Lord’s command to take the Gospel to all the ends of the earth. At the dawn of a new Millennium, there is a great need to proclaim from the rooftops the Good News that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).”

Local Prisoners Touch Calvary

Left: Looking up from inside the cell, seeing the hole from which Jesus would have been lowered by a rope around his waist. Right: Pilgrims gather inside the cell to pray.

Jesus was held captive within the ancient cistern pictured above, which is located beneath the former house of Caiaphas in Jerusalem. Today, a church called St. Peter Gallicantu surrounds the cistern and the house, to preserve the sites where Christ began his Passion.

Two pilgrims who journeyed with us to the Holy Land last year, Gene and Terri Espinoza, were so touched by their pilgrimage experience that they decided to enter bereavement ministry and prison ministry. Recently, Terri shared with us about how going on pilgrimage with Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH) impacted and transformed her and her husband.

At Calvary, where Christ was crucified, Terri had a moving experience; she recounted her realization, “I felt so grateful to have a merciful Jesus, who through his suffering gives us everlasting Life. […] That became very real….life is going to go on because of his death.” The faith of Terri and Gene came alive on pilgrimage, in a way it never had before.

Now, the Espinozas share their hope and sense of being loved by God with the prison inmates to whom they minister. When they pray together, Gene and Terri share with inmates from their personal experiences of being where Jesus, too, was a prisoner and suffered out of love for them. Each inmate has a chance to hold an olive wood crucifix from the Holy Land that contains a stone from Calvary (a gift especially for this purpose, from PCH Directors Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox).

Terri became emotional as she told us how inmates bathe this crucifix in their tears, while she and Gene remind them that, “Jesus is waiting…if we just open our lives to him and make him part of our everyday lives.”

Join us on a life-changing journey of faith! Learn more about our Ministry of Pilgrimages here.

Naked Before God

Naked before God.

 

That is how I felt; a pilgrim who did not deserve to be standing atop Mount Calvary in Jerusalem. Dim candlelight revealed the edges of the rock hill where Jesus of Nazareth had shed his blood for love of me. I could only stand there in silence; feeling speechless and thoughtless at the place where God’s Heart had burst forever into time and space.

 

Each day of my pilgrimage, I gradually shed the masks, prejudices, defenses, and other layers that our humanity tends to collect over time. I was able to metaphorically stand naked before God, and others, as I walked the biblical roads.

 

Reflecting on this conversion experience, I realized that God was teaching me about the virtue which Jesus highly praised: humility. “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)

 

Often, our society portrays humility as a miserable attitude wherein we put ourselves down, or think of ourselves as nothing better than dirt. “Humility does not mean false modesty,” explained Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2011. “It indicates our awareness that anything we can do is a gift of God.”

 

Humility means truly seeing ourselves in God’s eyes—and this is good news! Think about how much God loves you, how highly God thinks of you, how greatly God believes in you; to create you as a unique individual and to become human out of love for you! “God proves his love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

 

Humility means that, all at once, we see our belovedness in God’s sight as well as our nakedness and frailty before God. We realize how we would have nothing without God, yet with God, we have all.

 

We are in the midst of the Easter Season now. Recall how the Gospel depicts Jesus after his resurrection; retaining his wounds of crucifixion (cf. John 20:25, 27). It is this wounded yet resurrected Jesus who “breathes” the Holy Spirit on the early Church in the Upper Room (cf. John 20:22).

 

A powerful truth is embodied by Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection: Only when we offer ourselves naked before God and others—accepting the reality of our frailty, woundedness, and weakness, in the light of with God’s mighty love, can we experience the Kingdom of God and eternal life in the Holy Spirit.

 

Our practice of the virtue of humility is a first step towards this freedom which God desires for us. That is precisely why Easter is a time of rejoicing; when we have followed Christ in the way of humility, we arrive at freedom. In his addresses to Christians, Pope St. John Paul II often said, “We are the Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!” I would venture to say that the virtue of humility is the breath which enables our Alleluia’s.

 

Whether or not we can ever travel to Jerusalem, all of us can experience this freedom by partaking in the Sacrament of Mercy: Reconciliation. Within this encounter, we can shed accumulated layers of pretense, and bask in the freedom of God’s children.

 

Let’s encourage one another during this Easter Season. “There is no saint without a past nor a sinner without a future,” Pope Francis remarked during an Easter General Audience in 2016. “It is enough to respond to the call with a humble and sincere heart. The Church is not a community of perfect people, but of disciples on a journey, who follow the Lord because they know they are sinners and in need of his pardon. Thus, Christian life is a school of humility which opens us to grace.”

 

Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator at Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter Him through pilgrimages, conferences and outreach. PilgrimCenterofHope.org

A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ As Described by a Surgeon

by Dr. Pierre Barbet

What the Gospels don’t reveal about Christ’s sufferings, science does.

While the Gospels relate only the barest essentials concerning the physical suffering of Jesus, Dr. Pierre Barbet addresses these gaps with scientific inquiry. A Doctor at Calvary provides a forensic pathologist’s analysis of the Shroud of Turin, which reveals the graphic account of Jesus’s suffering at the hands of the Romans. Through a modern medical lens, Dr. Barbet examines the methods of infliction and physiological effects of each wound. He also delves into the historic practice and mechanics of crucifixion.

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