Sharing God’s Forgiveness

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forgivenessTO FORGIVE OR NOT TO FORGIVE?

It seems that the world has become an angry place. When it comes to offenses committed against us or against someone we care about, people are too quick to rush to anger and in turn to allow resentment against the perpetrator of the wrongdoing to build up.

In today’s society, not only are we less willing to forgive, but sadly, we are too quick to pass judgment, cut-off contact with or even seek revenge against the person who has been hurtful towards us.

The fact is, we all make mistakes and if we wish to be forgiven, we need to show forgiveness. More importantly we need to remember that God is the one true judge.

POPE FRANCIS ON THE TRUTH ABOUT FORGIVENESS

 Recently Pope Francis said, “Christians must let go of resentments and forgive those who have wronged them so that they may experience God’s forgiveness.” As part of his homily on March 6, 2018, the pontiff pointed out how difficult this can be: “We carry with us a list of things that have been done to us… Grudges make a nest in our heart and there is always that bitterness.”

The words of Pope Francis seem to mirror those of St. Paul, when he said, “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ” (Ephesians 4: 31-32).

As hard as it is to share forgiveness with others, to forgive another is pleasing to God. If we are to have peace, hope, and joy, we must follow God’s example. He sent his son to die for all men, including those who put him on the cross.

IN LIFE AND IN DEATH, JESUS SHARED FORGIVENESS

The greatest example of sharing forgiveness we will ever know occurred when – hanging from the cross – our Lord Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 34).

Throughout his public ministry, Jesus took every opportunity to emphasize to the Apostles, the importance of sharing forgiveness with others:

  • Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18- 21-22)
  • When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone.” (John 8: 7)
  • Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,”  while the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Matthew 7: 3-5)

SHARING FORGIVENESS BRINGS SPIRITUAL GROWTH

The next time someone wrongs you or someone you care about, it’s okay to be upset, to point out to the person who hurt you their wrongdoing and how it made you feel – but in the end you must forgive.

While we don’t always forget the wrongdoing, forgiveness allows us to let go of negativity, allowing us in turn to become more compassionate, patient, and loving.

Sharing forgiveness is essential to our spiritual and personal growth. Receiving God’s forgiveness is dependent on our sharing forgiveness with others.

If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6: 14-15)

Consider these final words from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians: “God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else.” (Colossians 3: 12-14).

 

 

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Do Not Be Afraid To Receive God’s Forgiveness

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forgivenessDon’t Allow Guilt & Shame To Separate You From God

While God takes sin very seriously, no matter how horribly we think we may have sinned or badly hurt others, our loving and merciful Father will still forgive us completely and repeatedly.

Many of us have a hard time believing in God’s forgiveness, but we need only look to the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, Church teaching and the bible to make us confident in the words from the Apostle’s Creed – I believe in the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus Is the Sacrifice That Atones For Our Sins

Of course, our Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood for the salvation of the world throughout eternity, and in so doing left us with a pathway to receive God’s forgiveness.

Forgiveness and compassion are at the heart of two of the most vivid stories from the bible; the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32) and Jesus & the Woman of Samaria (John 4: 7-29).

In the story of the forgiving father and his two sons, despite the fact that his younger son had run off and squandered his inheritance, recall what happened once that son, recognizing he had sinned, asked for forgiveness: “…while he was still far off his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him…this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found (Luke 15: 20, 32).”

In the case of the woman from Samaria, just by speaking to this worldly woman and offering her the “living water,” Jesus enables her to experience the freedom and relief of forgiveness. She is so grateful for the second chance (clean slate) that she runs back to the nearby town (Sychar) to tell people about the Messiah!

Our Channels For the Grace of Forgiveness

Christ had the power to forgive sins (cf. Mark 2: 6-12). Fortunately for us he passed it on. Sending the disciples to baptize and forgive sins, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (John 20: 22-23).”

After Pentecost, Peter urged the Jews to do penance and “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 38).”

From the Church

The first and chief sacrament for the forgiveness of sins is Baptism. For those sins committed after Baptism, Christ instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance through which a baptized person is reconciled with God and with the Church (Compendium 200).

There is no offense the Church cannot forgive since God can always pardon; and he is always willing to do so as long as we turn to him and ask for his for forgiveness (cf. Catechism, 981-982).

Thanks to our Church, both holiness and sanctification are accessible, which enables us to grow closer to Christ. We in turn through our words and deeds can help others to come closer to Jesus Christ.

Always remember that it is through the blood of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit that our sins are ultimately forgiven.

Two Keys & A Prayer

The two keys that unlock God’s forgiveness are: 1) Recognizing the sin in our life, and 2) Asking for and receiving God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

In Prayer, we ask God for the grace to deepen our awareness of our sinfulness. And together with our Blessed Mother we ask for an increase in confidence in the forgiveness of sins. And finally we ask for the courage to avoid sin in our lives.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus urged all to, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4: 17).” Over two- thousand years later, that message still applies. Repent; turn back to God.

The Pilgrim Center of Hope has two books available which offer reflections and preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For men, Son of Man To Man by Deacon Tom Fox and Come To Me by Mary Jane Fox.

 

 

 

 

Practicing Humility Leads To Peace And Freedom

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Practicing Humility Leads To Peace And Freedom

Jesus Christ Is the Ultimate Definition of Humility

During this Easter Season, consider how the Gospel depicts Jesus after his resurrection; retaining his wounds of crucifixion (cf. John 20: 25, 27). By walking with Jesus—in the way of humility—through his Passion, Death and Resurrection we are able to rejoice and 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!” It can be said that the virtue of humility is the breath which enables our Alleluia’s.

When we outstretch our arms, like Jesus on the cross, in the service of others, and only when we are able to shed all the masks we wear; can we recognize how much God loves us, how highly God thinks of us and how greatly God believes in us! “God proves his love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8).

God’s love enables us to restrain our pride and ego, which in turn prepares the soil of the heart to be watered by God’s grace.

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

How To Shed the Layers That Separate Us From Peace And Freedom

There are several actions we can take to bask in the peace and freedom that is available to all of God’s children. First and foremost we should partake in the Sacrament of Mercy: Reconciliation. Within this encounter, we can shed our accumulated layers of pretense.

  • As Oscar Wilde said, “The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”
  • Humility is the foundation of prayer: “We should go to God in prayer as ‘a beggar,’ asking Him to bestow on us ‘the gift’ of prayer.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2559)

Examples From Our Popes

In his later years, Pope St. John Paul II conveyed his humility through his physical vulnerability. Pope Benedict XVI demonstrated his humility by making the unprecedented decision to resign the fullness of religious power to live in seclusion and quiet.

During his Easter General Audience in 2016, Pope Francis remarked, “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.”

A Closing Thought from St. Francis de Sales

In his book Roses Among Thorns, St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Humility makes us accept pains with meekness, knowing that we deserve them, and good things with gratitude, knowing that we do not. Everyday we ought to make some act of humility, or speak heartfelt words of humility… either in our homes or in the world. We need to do as Jesus asked, “Learn of me, for I am meek, and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29).

How Do You Respond In Crisis? Life Lessons from Holy Week

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In A Crisis, Will You Stand With Our Lord or Flee in Anger or Disappointment ? 

The time of Passover and Palm Sunday were the ‘good times’ for our Lord Jesus Christ. As the Gospel of John (John 12: 20-33) tells us, at the Passover Feast, some Greeks asked Philip of Bethsaida, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” And then there is the “hero’s welcome” that Jesus received upon entering Jerusalem: As He road in on a donkey, people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy (palm) branches that they had cut from the fields…and they cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” (Matthew 21: 8-9)

Jesus Christ was at the height of His public ministry. Word had spread of his teachings and miracles. People wanted to know him and be with him…they had high expectations of Jesus.

In an Instant, Everything Changed!

Hours later, everything changed! Jesus was arrested by the Sanhedrin, sentenced by Pontius Pilate and ultimately condemned to death before Caiaphas.

As for all those who wanted to see Jesus and those who welcomed him into Jerusalem – most of them abandoned him! Even Peter and the other Apostles either fled or denied knowing Him…you know the story.

What Would You Do?

Ignatian Spirituality (named for St. Ignatius of Loyola) teaches a way of praying that involves using our imagination to enter a scene of the Gospel and placing ourselves either as an observer or as one of the participants in the story.

Imagine being one of those people waving branches as Jesus enters Jerusalem…you are excited and filled with joy! Just a few hours later, you find out that Jesus is on his way to Calvary. Would you continue to follow and believe?

Will You Hold Onto Your Faith in God or Run Away?

When we are riding high, feeling blessed and everything is going our way, it is very easy to show our love for Our Lord. It is very easy to appreciate him and celebrate our faith in God.

But when something happens to cause us grief, pain or major disappointment – especially if we feel we did nothing to deserve it – we can get angry. We can turn away from Our Lord…we can abandon him!

In addition, when the bad tiding involves other people, we can also turn our backs on them, get angry, withhold our love, and walk away. In the midst of a major crisis, we can be quick to forget the ‘good times’ – all the blessings and the times of grace.

Always Trust in God

The next time you are faced with a major challenge that takes the wind out of your sails and causes you to question your faith (God) or to lose faith in another person; spouse, family member or friend – ALWAYS remember to trust in God….”Do not fear; I am with you,” (Isaiah 41:10)

At a recent Mass, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller had the ushers hand out a small card to everyone present. The card, which I keep with me at all times, reads, “Trust Me. I have everything under control….signed, Jesus.”

As evidenced by the Resurrection and the Empty Tomb, Our Lord Jesus Christ had to be crucified, so that we might live! Christ’s Passion reminds us that our baptism is not only about the joy of welcoming Jesus Christ, it is about believing in him, trusting in him and being faithful to what he has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church.

To believe is an act of the will. Choosing now, will help us to know the way when our walk to Calvary comes. Our purpose in this life is to know, love and serve God so that we can be happy now and forever.

An Invitation

We invite you to stop by the Pilgrim Center of Hope, during regular business hours (M-F, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm) to spend a few moments of personal reflection with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament at Gethsemane Chapel. Consider coming by on your lunch break. You can also pick up pamphlets, books and spiritual tools designed to guide you closer to Christ. For more information visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org 

 

 

How To Trust God Like St. Joseph

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Trust in GodWhen faced with a problem or crisis, our natural human tendency is to focus on how bad things are, rather than trusting in God. 

The question is, when faced with adversity or uncertainty, will we go into a panic like the apostles did between Holy Friday and Easter Sunday, or will we be obedient like St. Joseph in Matthew 1:24 after an angel came to him in a dream?

On March 19, we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph as chaste spouse of Mary. This is the perfect time to examine how to follow the example of St. Joseph and place our total trust in God – at all times!

Why is placing our trust in God so crucial?

In order to grow in our faith and always “hope against hope,” (Romans 4: 18) as Abraham did, we ultimately need to trust God with all aspects of our lives. Certainly using the lives of the saints as examples and reading about the prophets (and how they dealt with a challenge) in Sacred Scripture can also help to strengthen our faith.

When we trust as St. Joseph did, we can gain the freedom to feel assured that God will always show us the way.

Let’s look at four ways we can become more trusting:

  • Listen to your inner voice (and know when God is inspiring you)
  • Follow the example of St. Joseph’s Prudence
  • Follow the example of St. Joseph’s Obedience
  • Ask St. Joseph for assistance

How do we know when to trust that ‘still, small voice,’ and when to disregard it?

If the inner voice is of God, it will meet two primary guidelines. First, it will be loving and promote the love of God and others. And secondly, it will not contradict Church teachings or Sacred Scripture.

St. Joseph was able to determine that the angel from his dream was of God and not his imagination by using this logic and also because he was moral and just.

God is so great that he can communicate with us through various means other than a dream or the still, small voice that he used to speak to the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19: 12,13). Being able to properly discern the signs God gives to us helps us to trust God the way St. Joseph did throughout his life.

St. Joseph and Prudence

St. Joseph teaches us that prudence is correct knowledge of things that ought to be done and of things that should be avoided. In order to be more trusting of God, we need this intellectual virtue; this ability to recognize in any matter at hand what is good and what is evil.

The prudence of St. Joseph is part of our Catholic faith. St. Joseph demonstrated this through his remarkable practice of silence. St. Joseph was a man of action. The Gospels do not record a single word he spoke, perhaps to teach us that if we wish to practice the virtue of prudence, we must look to our practice of silence.

Acting with conviction is a sign of trusting in God.

St. Joseph and Obedience

Mary and Joseph embodied obedience to the will of God. Joseph, a righteous man, was going to divorce Mary quietly when he found out that she was pregnant. But instead, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary (as his wife) into his home.

As Deacon Tom Fox points out in his book, “Son of Man to Man” (page 78), “The only way that we will reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity is by obedience to the Word of God and His Church. If we are obedient, we will always have hope.”

A Prayer from St. John Paul II to St. Joseph

Most beloved father, dispel the evil of falsehood and sin…graciously assist us from heaven in our struggle with the powers of darkness…and just as you once saved the child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend God’s holy Church from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity. (Guardian of the Redeemer, no. 31)

Be Like St. Joseph

The example of St. Joseph – in times of disappointment and failure, when the unexpected occurs, on frustrating days, and in the face of unwanted demands on our time – will enable us to always trust in God.

Trust leads us to be united with God and the grace he offers us through the Church.

To help increase your trust in God, watch the All About St. Joseph episode of Catholicism Live! You can also purchase a copy of “Son of Man to Man,” by Deacon Tom Fox.

Six Steps that Lead you to Choose Belief

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“Gleeson, Marian” The Holy Steps

1. Pay attention to God’s prompting
I was almost forty years old when I came to realize that the Catholic faith in which I had been raised, had very little influence in the decisions I made. I thank God for that wake-up call (prompting), because it changed my life.

2. Accept God’s Invitation to Discipleship
The encounter is not just about a moment of intimacy; it is an invitation to discipleship that requires us to order our lives to him, who created us and loves us. God has revealed this order, his plan, to us through the Scriptures. We’ve even seen how it is lived in the lives of the saints.

3. Get Your Priorities in Order
However, all of us are tempted to put our appetites, desires, and our personal interests as our priority. The question to each of us is: Do we want Jesus to be our companion on our journey through this life? That, of course, requires our conversion.

Everything we need to live our lives close to Jesus, he has given to us through his Church, but it depends on our desire to remain close to him.

When I had my wakeup call, I bought a Bible, joined a prayer group, and began talking to people about God. Through this, I developed an appreciation for the gift of my Catholic faith. Once God became a priority for me, I was able to discover his plan for my life.

4. Love God Above Everything Else
We can’t just live for our-self. It is for this reason that we have been given the commandment that we must love God above everything else. It’s a commandment, not a suggestion, because we all have inherited a fallen nature that will lead us to sadness if we don’t order our lives to God.

5. Go to Confession & Work to Overcome Sin
If we don’t make an effort to overcome sin, it will dominate our lives and become an obstacle to experiencing the love and mercy that Our Lord offers us every day and is necessary for our journey with him. We can receive his love and mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation; an encounter with Jesus, who forgives our sins through his minister the priest, and then gives us the grace we need to make progress in our spiritual life.

6. Make Jesus Christ Your Companion
Jesus Christ longs to encounter every one of us, so that he can be our companion on our journey through life. If we are willing to make God our priority, then he will help us to discover great happiness in this life and for all eternity. Faith is a gift from God, but believing is a choice.

We Trusted God. Here’s What Happened…

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What happens when you choose to surrender your will to control your life, and choose to trust in God? The last 30 years of our lives have been filled with answers to this question…

When we went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land by ourselves, God provided us with strangers who became ‘family members’, guiding and encouraging us on our journey. We encountered Jesus with new eyes, and discovered a new outlook on our Catholic faith.

When we were sent to a priest who heard our confession, then were immediately sent out to jump onto a boat sailing across the Sea of Galilee—without wallet, passport, or personal items; God provided each of us with an unmistakable conviction to leave everything and follow Him.

When we spent six months searching for how to answer God’s call as missionaries overseas, God directed us to our pastor, who invited us to help him begin a home visitation ministry in our own neighborhood.

When discovered that we would be door-to-door ministers, visiting every residence within the boundaries of our parish without any experience as evangelizers, God provided us with encouragement through our pastor. He told us not to worry about what we were to say, but to just listen and tell people that we cared.

When countless individuals urgently needed prayer or a visitor, God brought us to knock on their door. We witnessed the healing power of presence, prayer, and forgiveness. In the first couple of years, we visited over 10,000 families.

When Pope John Paul II issued an urgent call for a “new evangelization,” we knew we wanted to respond, but didn’t know how. After praying in the Garden of Gethsemane for two weeks, we were given the confidence that God was calling us to start an evangelization Center. God provided us with the blessing of our local bishop.

With just the “change in our pockets”, God provided the Teresian Sisters’ former Convent in northwest San Antonio, to serve as a home for the evangelization Center. Each month, a different friend would present us with their contribution towards the rent.

God has provided us with the rent and “our daily bread,” for 25 years.

When the Teresian Sisters decided to sell their property, we began looking for a new home. Instead, God provided us with hundreds of individuals who donated personal gifts ranging from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars, and the property that we’d been renting for two decades was completely paid off.

The Challenge of Trusting God

Yes, for all of us, each day brings new challenges. Sometimes, it is very difficult to choose to place our trust in God, especially when everything around us points toward defeat. A Scripture that resonates deeply with us is, “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) We have learned that the best attitude in every circumstance is to surrender ourselves to God, and to trust in his loving concern for us. Over the last 25 years as an evangelization ministry, Pilgrim Center of Hope has sometimes had to wait for years before receiving answers to our prayers. Other times, the answers have come within minutes of asking. But in every circumstance, God has offered us abundant grace…

Jesus knows how many obstacles human beings face every day, because he lived through them; personal suffering, family trials, and much more. He said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Today, Jesus offers you abundant grace, through the Church that he established upon his Apostles. The Apostles have continued to pass on this spiritual lineage, down to this present day. God invites you to share in his life of love, even amidst daily challenges.

Lord Jesus, you know the trials and concerns that I hold in my heart and mind today. I want to trust in you, my God and Savior. Thank you for teaching us to pray, “Thy will be done;” those same words you prayed before your Passion and Death. Help me to follow in your footsteps today: to take up my Cross, rejoicing in hope, enduring in affliction, and persevering in prayer. Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen.

We invite you to discover spiritual tools and events that will help you increase your trust in God, through Pilgrim Center of Hope.

Renew Your Approach to Lent

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These forty days are a time for all of us to take God seriously and to make a new beginning with the God whom we often take for granted. There are three focal points to help us during this Lenten season; prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Let’s take a fresh look at each of them. Consider how you are living these:

Prayer

No prayer, means no faith. One measurement of our faith is the amount of time we spend in prayer. We should, “pray without ceasing,” as Saint Paul said (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

  • We should begin our day in prayer and pray throughout the day; prayer is our connection to God and we need His help in all we do.
  • We should pray in private, but we also should pray with the people we love.
  • It is critical that husbands and wives should pray together, because in Holy Matrimony, two became one in Christ. It is Christ who will help your marriage and your family to overcome every challenge.
  • Of course, we should pray together with our faith community. The highest form of prayer is the Mass, because it makes present to us the Paschal mystery and gives us the opportunity to receive the real presence of Jesus Christ. If daily Mass is not part of your routine, Lent is a good time to make the effort; you will be glad you did.

Almsgiving

This does not mean dropping a dollar in the collection basket. Almsgiving is having a generous heart because you realize the source of your blessings. We trust that, as we are generous, God will continue to be generous with us.

Almsgiving helps us overcome our temptation to be selfish, as we become more aware of the needs of others. Almsgiving helps us to learn the great lesson of divine providence and develop a profound trust in God.

Fasting

Fasting is denying ourselves of something. The purpose is to take charge of our senses; to gain control of our passions. Without self control, we will never reach spiritual maturity. Jesus said that if we are to be his disciples, we must deny ourselves, and that is exactly what fasting is about.

  • When we think of fasting we usually think of food, but it could take other forms. We could fast from television, from excessive computer time, from things we enjoy but do not need.
  • We could fast from being impatient with the people we love, and with others as well.
  • We could even drive the speed limit as a form of conquering our impatience!

Why We Need Lent

The Church has given us this season of Lent because she knows we need it. Jesus knows we need it. We all need a new beginning with God.

If we take God seriously during these forty days and, from our heart, we “repent and believe in the Gospel,” these could be the best days of our lives because we will certainly draw closer to God-and there is nothing more important than being connected to God, who is the source of our happiness and our eternity.

The ashes that are placed on our forehead today are a reminder of our mortality, and at the same time, they are our testimony that we take our faith seriously and want to be a witness of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Lord, give us the grace to be your faithful disciples.

Strengthening Men In Christ

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Abuse and gender have always driven the news, but today’s headlines find themselves at extremes. In homes, we see:

…“a society without fathers”. In Western culture, the father figure is said to be symbolically absent, missing or vanished. Manhood itself seems to be called into question. (Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia 176)

Our Catholic Church teaches us to think and act using a “both-and” approach, rather than clinging to an extreme position on any social spectrum. Regarding this topic; we both believe in the equal dignity of the sexes, and value the differences between them. Men and women reflect God in similar and different ways. Our human imperfection, however, struggles with this balancing act. We see the resulting confusion in contemporary society.

How can we re-balance and re-focus ourselves, our families, and society?

One major endeavor in San Antonio working toward that end is Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Ministry of Conferences. Since the early 2000s, we have hosted conferences for men and women to have time away from the chaos of daily life, to learn about their inherent dignity, be encouraged in God’s love for them, and be challenged to use their unique gifts for the transformation of themselves, their families, and society.

This year’s Catholic Men’s Conference (CMC) offers a new take on the event theme, “Master, I Want to See” (Mark 10:51). In additional to Mass with Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and a Eucharistic Healing Service; Capuchin Franciscan friar and spiritual director, Father John Lager, will address wounds and everyday struggles with which men wrestle. Entrepreneur Tom Peterson will speak to men “from their own shoes” about being blind to God’s mercy, and opening themselves to receiving it. John Bergsma, Ph.D., will speak both as a Scripture scholar and a husband and father, teaching men about reading the Bible as a Catholic man, as well as how God calls and equips each attendee to fulfill leadership roles in their lives.

What if every man were impacted like this young man’s CMC testimony?

I was kinda skeptical about it. I don’t really go to these things, but my dad asked me… I have two twin boys who are fourteen months old, so I’m a new father. It really hit home for me whenever they were talking about family – you know, love God, love your wife, love your kids. I really want to put that in their life.

Share the CMC website or Facebook event with men in your life. Every man needs to be strengthened, encouraged, and challenged. You don’t have to be perfect to begin anew in Christ.

The Treasure of Our Elders

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Saint Paul began his letter to the young bishop, Timothy:

I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you. (2 Tim. 1:5)

What a treasure for us, to know the names of both the mother and grandmother of one of Christianity’s first bishops! Thank God for Lois, a woman who was undoubtedly a strong, living witness. Without her, we may have missed out on two Biblical books, 1 and 2 Timothy!

“Today more than ever we need this bridge, this dialogue, between grandparents and grandchildren, between the young and the elderly,” said Pope Francis to youth in 2017.  “So this is the task I am giving you in the name of the Church:  Talk to older people.”

Our society has largely lost respect for our elders. Yet: How many are homebound, filled with the wisdom of life experiences, while restless young people outside seek answers to life’s ‘big questions’? How many of our elders feel like they are worthless, now that their body—and sometimes their mind—is failing? As Christians, it is our responsibility to remedy this situation; to remind all people of their value, worth, and dignity.

In 2013, San Antonio’s Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, inspired by Benedict XVI’s courageous transition from active Pope to Pope Emeritus prayer intercessor, directed Pilgrim Center of Hope to begin a Catholic Seniors’ Conference. This conference aims to foster an appreciation for the personal dignity of men and women in the later years of life, to encourage them, and to inspire them to continue sharing their wisdom and gifts. As we prepare to offer the fifth annual event, we are excited! We’ve seen how these conferences bring about transformations in our elders. One such person remarked:

I had come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church didn’t care for the elderly who were once young & very active in our Church, but I realized through this conference we are the building blocks of our church.

We see the Holy Spirit’s work in Pope Francis, as he consistently speaks on the value of senior citizens. This is an urgent topic! As our Holy Father reminds us:

“A people that does not take care of grandparents, that does not treat them well, has no future! The elderly have wisdom. They are entrusted with a great responsibility: to transmit their life experience, their family history, the history of a community, of a people. Let us keep in mind our elders, so that sustained by families and institutions, may with their wisdom and experience collaborate in the education of new generations.”

Join us at the 2018 Catholic Seniors’ Conference! All are welcome… “Seniors of all ages” are welcome, along with family members and friends. Let us all rediscover the hope and joy of life in Christ! At any age, we are members of the Body of Christ.