Author Archives: Pilgrim Center Of Hope

About Pilgrim Center Of Hope

The Pilgrim Center of Hope is a Catholic evangelization ministry in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Our mission is to guide individuals, families and neighborhoods toward finding a deeper relationship with Christ through evangelization (living and sharing the faith).

Weekly Inspiration from St. Gianna Molla

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“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.”

Gianna Beretta Molla was the first married laywoman to be declared a saint. (though there are many sainted widows). She was also the first canonized woman physician — a professional woman who was also a “working mom” four decades ago, when this was unusual.

She considered her work in the field of medicine as a “mission”.  She was also very active in her Catholic community. With simplicity, she harmonized the demands of mother, wife, doctor, and her passion for life.

Gianna and her husband, Pietro, had two children. When expecting their third child, complications arose. A few days before the child was due, she told her husband and the doctors: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child—I insist on it. Save the baby.”

Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of 28 April, among unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you,” Gianna died.  She was 39 years old.  Her daughter, Gianna Emanuela, is today a physician herself, and involved in the pro-life movement. Gianna’s husband and their last child, Gianna, were present at the canonization ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 2004.

Our work can also become our “mission”; by asking the Lord to sanctify it and imploring the Holy Spirit to guide us in all decisions and actions.  This can also bring true happiness. Gianna was a Wife, Mother & Physician; let us learn from her life and, with the help of God, we, too, can bring harmony into our family life and friends.

Feast Day:  April 28

Weekly Inspiration from St. Andre Bessette

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This week, we share with you some inspiration from a dear friend of Pilgrim Center of Hope, Brother Andre Bessette, a humble Holy Cross Brother:

If one were to ask any Canadian for the name of the person who built [the Oratory of St. Joseph], he would be told, ‘Brother Andre.’ Yet, this little lay brother’s name does not appear on any of the official records of the building of the Oratory. He was only a porter – a doorman – at a college owned and operated by his religious congregation. He was a little man, both in size and, if one were to judge by appearance, in importance. He was not a priest; therefore he could neither offer Mass nor preach. Because of poor education, he did not know how to read or write until he reached the age of twenty-five.

How is it, then, that this little brother is known and venerated all over the world as the little saint built built the Oratory of Saint Joseph in Montreal? Because of his prayer and humility, God used him to heal thousands of people who flocked to the Oratory.

Though Brother Andre was given the grace to heal others, he was constantly sick himself. He suffered from stomach illness all of his life. As a result, he could eat little more than a mixture of flower and watered-down milk, or sometimes break soaked in the same. To him, these sufferings were an opportunity for reaching greater sanctity. As we shall see, his final sickness provided him with many such opportunities. When asked if he was in great pain, he said, “Indeed I am, but I thank God for giving me the grace to suffer; I need it so much!”

When we are undergoing trials because of sickness, financial problems, or relational difficulties we should pray for the grace, not only for a solution, but to recognize how God might use the trial to strengthen our faith and for the benefit of another soul according to his plan.

Source: “Saint André Bessette: Montreal’s Miracle Worker” by Brother Andre Marie (Catholicism.org)

St. Andre, pray for us to have the humility to seek the will of God in all things.

Optional Memorial: January 6

Weekly Inspiration from St. Irenaeus

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St. Irenaeus was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was a disciple of St. John the Apostle.

“The writings of St. Irenaeus entitle him to a high place amongst the fathers of the Church, for they not only laid the foundations of Christian theology but, by exposing and refuting the errors of the gnostics, they delivered the Catholic faith from the real danger it ran from being leavened by the insidious doctrines of those heretics.” – Butler’s Lives of the Saints

St. Irenaeus lived at the time when many Christians were being martyred for their faith, and he is celebrated as a martyr. His faith was his life. His most famous quote is, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive; fully alive consists in beholding God.”

We are only fully alive when we are in the state of grace and intimately united to Jesus Christ in our prayer and sacrifices. We give God glory when we are faithful to what he has revealed to us through the Church and the Scriptures, which enables us to experience joy and peace, even in the most difficult circumstances.

We live in a confused world, in which many people reject the truths for which the martyrs died. We should ask for the intercession of St. Irenaeus when we are tempted to compromise the faith that has been handed down to us.

Feast Day: June 28

Weekly Inspiration from Bl. Charles de Foucauld

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Charles de Foucauld was born in France in 1858; he lived in Paris for some time. After inheriting money from his grandfather, he began living a reckless life and ceased to be a Christian.  His cousin, Marie, lived near his apartment in Paris.  She was a deeply spiritual young woman.  Through her example, Charles began to change and rediscovered his faith in God and love for Christ. Regarding his conversion, Charles said,

The moment I realized that God existed, I knew I could not do otherwise than to live for Him alone.

He returned to the sacraments and lived as a Trappist monk. He was ordained a priest and went to Algeria to take up the life of a hermit in the desert.  His witness of charity, patience, and his deep faith, became a witness to those around him. While attempting to warn two Arab soldiers of danger from a group of rebels, Charles was murdered.

The life of Charles de Foucauld was a seed which had to die before it sprouted.  Today, religious congregations exist based on his example: Jesus Caritas, Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of Jesus, and Little Sisters of the Gospel.  They witness their Christian life in charity and patience.

His Prayer of Abandonment:

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:   I am ready for all, I accept all.  Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.  I wish no more than this, O Lord.  Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve,
and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.

Feast Day: December 1

Suggested Reading:

  •  Journey of the Spirit by Cathy Wright
  • Two Dancers in the Desert: The Life of Charles De Foucauld by Chalres Lepetit

 

Weekly Inspiration from St. Faustina

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Faustina lived in the early 1900’s in Poland.  She entered the Convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Kracow, Poland.

The Lord Jesus appeared to her in the Convent and called her “Apostle & Secretary of Divine Mercy.”  He had chosen her to write his message of mercy for the world; so all would know of the mercy of God.  He also instructed her to have an image painted, in her own words:

“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'”

Among many messages of the Lord to Sr. Faustina, He asked that the Sunday after Easter Sunday be dedicated to His Divine Mercy.  Here are the words of our Lord concerning the Feast of Divine Mercy to St. Faustina:

“Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary 300)

“This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies.” (Diary 420)

St. Faustina was obedient to the Lord; thus the image was painted, the Feast of Divine Mercy was instituted into the Liturgical Calendar of the Church (thanks to Pope John Paul II), and today her Diary is translated into many languages for people throughout the world.

God loves you and waits to bestow His mercy on you. An excellent way to start is by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for a new beginning.

Feast Day: October 15

Weekly Inspiration from St. Mary Magdalene

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“I have seen the Lord!”  – John 20:18

Mary was from Magdala, a village along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was an industrious fishing village exporting dry, salted fish to Rome during the first century.  When she met Jesus, Mary had major problems in her life; the Gospels tell us that Jesus cast seven devils out from her (Mk 16:9, Lk 8:2).   She encountered Jesus, was healed by him, and discovered in him her Teacher, Friend, Lord and Savior. Not only did she become his disciple, but also one of the strongest benefactors of his work.

She followed Jesus, stood at the foot of the Cross during His crucifixion, and was among the women who approached the Tomb after His burial.  When she found the tomb empty, she wept, she hadn’t understand what had happened to His body.  It was then that the Lord appeared to her and called her name, “Mary!” She went to the disciples to inform them, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).

Mary Magdalene had a dark past.  She encountered Jesus and believed He was the Christ.  She was present when Jesus was tortured, at his crucifixion, and at his death (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40; Lk 23:49; Jn 19:25, Mk 15:47).

Today, we recognize her as “Apostle to the Apostles,” a woman of faith, a Saint of the Resurrection.  We, too, can encounter Jesus by calling out to Him from our heart.  So many people through the years have done this and have experienced a peace, a consolation.

Jesus, I turn to you believing you are the Son of God and our Savior.  Look into my heart Lord, bless me and lead me to experience your peace.  Thank you, Jesus.

Feast Day in the Holy Land: Saturday after Easter Sunday

Universal Feast Day: July 22

Inspiration from St. Teresa of Calcutta

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“Surrender is true love.  The more we surrender, the more we love God and souls.”

These words of St. Teresa of Calcutta are good for us to take to heart as we begin Holy Week.  These next few days leading to the Sacred Triduum can be a good opportunity to take a few moments of silence each day and meditate on this quote of Mother Teresa.  What does it mean to surrender?  In very simple terms, it is to turn ourselves towards God and choose to follow Him, as we ask Him for the graces needed to follow Him and to desire His will in our lives.

A simple way to begin: Take 3-5 minutes daily to be in silence with the Lord.  Let Him speak to you.  You may begin your silence with these words: “Lord, I love you and adore you.  Fill my heart with your love.”

Feast Day: September 5

Inspiration from St. Bridget of Sweden

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As we approach Holy Week during this Season of Lent, we are reminded of the Passion of Christ: what Christ went through from the time of His last Passover Meal (the Last Supper), the time in the Garden of Gethsemane, His trial, leading to the Crucifixion.

St. Bridget, born in Sweden, had visions of Christ crucified since the age of 7.  These led her to a deep love for Jesus, resulting in a life of prayer and service.  After her husband’s death, she lived a strict life of a penance, giving her land and buildings to found monasteries for men and women.  This group became known as the Order of the Bridgetines, which are still in existence today.

She made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where she visited the holy sites related to the Lord’s Passion in Jerusalem.

St. Bridget’s visions of the Lord’s Passion have been compiled; one of the prayers given to her by the Lord is that of the “Fifteen Prayers.”

The Church celebrates her feast day on July 23.

Action: As you approach Holy Week, read the New Testament scriptures related to the Lord’s Passion.  Imagine yourself there in the Garden of Gethsemane, in Jerusalem, throughout His Passion, and think about what you are feeling and thinking.  This meditation may lead you to a deeper experience of Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary: A Resolution that Wins!

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While visiting family over the Christmas Holiday, the teens and twenty-somethings in my family asked me to play an old game that has become new again and is very popular with their age group. It is bean bag toss.

In this latest version of what I remember as Toss Across, you play in 2-person teams and toss a bean bag onto a plank with a hole in it. If your bean bag makes it in the hole it is 3 points and if it lands on the plank, 1 point. Sounds simple, right?

Well, as we are playing I hear my nephew and son working what sounds like a math problem to calculate the points. “What are you doing?” I ask. My nephew tries to explain this complicated (to me anyway!) scoring system in which points are lost, points cancel each other out, etc. with the end goal of earning 21 points and winning the game.

As I toss and keep making point worthy landings, I hear “Ok your team is now at zero.” I look at my son with a, ‘What gives?’ look and he concurs, “Yes, Mom we are at zero.” I respond, “I don’t understand.” These sweet young men patiently explain the scoring to me again but I just get more frustrated and say, “This game has become way too complicated. I’m just going to play and you tell me if we win.”

This trust that I am in good hands, that someone wiser than me knows what is going on (thank goodness!) and that all I have to do is play the game is the same freedom that is enjoyed when one goes through Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Funny comparison, I know, but this freedom is the #1 reason I so appreciate this Church-honored devotion made famous by the great work of St. Louis Marie de Montfort.

Enthusiastically proclaimed as the quickest, most efficient way to free ourselves from the spirit of the world and put on Christ in every aspect of our lives, this consecration has worked to transform many into saints, including Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Pope Saint John Paul II, who said, “It was the decisive turning point in my life.” The consecration is cited by many priests as the fire that lit the zeal of their apostolates,including previous and future Catholic Women’s Conference speakers, respectfully, Father Nathan Cromly and Father Michael Gaitley, just to name two.

But, if you are like I was six years ago, even this great press would not convince you of the value of Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary because a question first begs to be answered, “Why Mary?”

I asked that question before I began the 33-day Preparation for Consecration using St. Louis de Montfort’s way, but with the urging of a friend to ‘just try it,’ I did. I continued to ask the question the entire 33 days and, yes, even after I knelt before the Tabernacle and offered myself to Jesus through Mary in the Consecration Prayer.

I no longer ask that question.

I could list all the many reasons why this Consecration has catapulted me closer than I ever dreamed possible to our Lord, Jesus Christ, but I’ll leave that for the great theologians and priests that have made it their mission to promote it.

For me, it is simply this: my life has completely transformed from chaotic, disorganized and overwhelming to tranquil, orderly and manageable. Though circumstances in life remain difficult and my responsibilities continue to increase, it has taken on a calm that I know is thanks to placing myself into the care of our Blessed Mother. Like the bean bag toss experience, I have discovered the freedom that allows me to play the ‘game of life’ with the assurance that I am in good hands, that someone wiser than me knows what is going on (thank goodness!) and she will make sure I win Heaven!

If you are ready to ‘just try it’ then I encourage you to click on any of the links in this blog to learn much more about the Consecration.

If you are still asking, “Why Mary?” Our next Evening with Mary will answer that very question. Please join us on Friday, January 20th at St. Mary Magdalen Church in San Antonio where Deacon Ed Domowski will answer “Who is Mary? Why Go to Her?”

 

Praying in Unusual Places

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by Ann Gonsalves

While pregnant, I began praying for my children. That continued daily and once they were in school, I heard about a group of moms who got together and prayed for their children and their school. I wanted to join, but couldn’t as I had a full time job, which required me to be at work when the moms were praying. Once I was able to quit, I joined the group.

What I have witnessed gives me the boldness to state that the single most important task a mom can do is pray for her child.

Making sure they have proper rest and diet, encouraging their academic achievement and carpooling to sporting or music events, taking them to the doctor when they are sick, are all part of being a good mother, of course. But, as I have watched other children grow, I have noticed that those children with praying parents, seem to flourish and grow to full expectation. As it says in James 5:16, “The fervent prayer of a righteous (faithful) person is very powerful.”

Praying Everywhere

Both of my sons attended public schools, where praying was banned over 30 years ago. This is a shame, as that was the only exposure to prayer that some children received. I heard about and attended “Prayer Around the Flagpole” events at several schools with other parents and their children. This gave me an idea to meet other parents who wanted to pray at the school, before school terms started. We would walk the halls, parking lots, sporting venues and I would sprinkle Holy Water in the bathrooms (weird stuff happens in school bathrooms). What a sense of peace and calm, knowing that the school was covered in prayer.

Encouraging our athletes

sunset-people-sun-menI contacted the football coach and asked if we could pray in the locker rooms. One young man, who played football with my youngest son had suffered injuries every football season since middle school. This included broken fingers, collarbone, ankle and arm. Every season they were in the emergency room getting him treated for injuries. I stood before his locker, before his senior year and gave him to the Divine Protector, Our Lord Jesus Christ. I prayed over every limb in his body and sprinkled his locker with Holy Water. He was the starting middle linebacker for the second year in a row, but praise God, that season he did not sustain injury. This confidence in God’s grace inspired us to continue our prayer over the football team, attaching Bible passages to their lockers such as, “I can do all things through God who strengthens me,” (Phil 4:13) and “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith,” (2 Tim 4:7). It wasn’t always a winning season, but injuries were minimal and team spirit was good. The boys knew they were covered in prayer and that God spoke to them, providing words of encouragement through Scripture.

We all need reminders sometimes

I made it a part of my prayer tradition each week to let my sons know they, their friends and their school had been prayed for by this group of moms. I told them how each child is named, and his or her needs are handed into God’s care. I shared with them how much we rely on God to help us be parents worthy of so special a gift as our children and how we seek his guidance in how to raise our children to grow into the men and women our Father has created them to be. Sure, they gave me strange looks at first, but over time it just became a normal part of our conversations. They see their dad and me praying for them and it has become a natural part of our family life. I pray one day they give the gift of praying parents to their children.

All Grown Up

My children are young adults now and I shall continue to pray for them until my last day on earth. I encourage all mothers to talk to their friends and pray together, because where two or more are gathered, Jesus is present (Mt 18:20). Be bold.

In his 1995 Letter to Women, Pope Saint John Paul II wrote, “Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.”

Ann Gonsalves is the database coordinator at the Pilgrim Center of Hope. This article was written for Today’s Catholic newspaper. The Pilgrim Center of Hope, Catholic evangelization apostolate, is the founder of the annual Catholic Women’s Conference. Save the date for CWC 2017: July 28th & 29th.