Monthly Archives: March 2018

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 

 

 

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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.