Author Archives: Pilgrim Center Of Hope

About Pilgrim Center Of Hope

Pilgrim Center of Hope is a nonprofit organization and Catholic evangelization ministry located in San Antonio, Texas. Answering Christ's call, we guide people to encounter Christ so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

What Does Judas Iscariot Teach Us About Hope?

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We All Can Be Redeemed, Never Lose Hope

During a homily, a priest reflected on Jesus and his relationship with his Apostles. Father asked us why we think Jesus called Judas friend even as Judas was betraying him with a kiss? (Matthew 26:50) He answered that it is because Jesus, who is God, never changes.  Jesus was a friend to Judas and Father said nothing Judas or we do changes who Jesus is to us.

At first, Father’s words brought great consolation but as I reflected on it deeper, it became a conviction. I pondered, ‘So Jesus is my friend no matter what, which is wonderful, but it says nothing about who I am to Him. I may receive many blessings from God, but that does not assure my holiness. I receive blessings because God is good, not because I am.’  This reality frightened me!

What are we to do when we face the reality of who we are?

Judas chose to turn from Jesus and into isolation leaving him wide open for despair to hunt him down.

What do you think would have happened, if instead, he joined his brother Apostles?

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He would have found all but one, trembling together in fear, far away from their Lord and feeling as guilty as him. In Peter, he would have seen the eyes of the denier of Jesus looking back. Judas would have discovered he is not alone, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) as, St. Paul, another great sinner turned saint would soon discover.

And . . . like his brother Apostles, would have encountered the Resurrected Jesus and witnessed the extremes that Mercy wills to go to forgive and redeem.

No Matter What, Turn To Jesus Our Forever Friend

Judas teaches me what not to do! In Judas we see how hope dies when we turn from God and others, and this isolation makes us vulnerable to despair.

In Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis teaches us about the joy of living as a missionary disciple. To be a missionary disciple means we do not need to be perfect to begin anew, nor do we have to ‘know everything’ about our faith before we share it. Our faith calls us to be missionary disciples; women and men who ‘go out’ to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, as we personally allow him to draw us and to perfect us in holiness.  A missionary disciple is one who seeks to be a friend of Jesus by turning to Him always and sharing His friendship with others.

At Pilgrim Center of Hope, we have taken this message to the heart of our ministry. We believe that the best way to live this joy of the missionary disciple is through the message of hope; to be a Missionary of Hope.

So many people have lost hope and struggle to find it, or even doubt it exists.  So many people have left themselves vulnerable to despair, like Judas, by turning from God.

Pilgrim Center of Hope is responding to the urgent need for hope that we are seeing today, by providing a variety of events, pilgrimages and evangelization outreach opportunities to encounter our friend, Jesus Christ, and to share His love for us to all.

We are in the final phase of building a New Evangelization Center that will provide even more opportunities for people to encounter Christ through multimedia, interactive, educational, and personal experiences.

We invite you to join with us and spread hope!  We are staff, prayer intercessors, benefactors and volunteers; a pilgrim people journeying arm-in-arm who, “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer!” (Romans 12:12)

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Mary – She Is Your Mother Too!

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During May, which is the month of Mary, it is important to remind everyone that she is mother to us all and that we need to go to her. We are blessed to have several ways to acknowledge, celebrate, and honor the Mother of God.

Experience A Marian Pilgrimage

As a pilgrimage group leader, Mary Jane Fox, Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope, has had the opportunity to lead pilgrimages to two destinations where Mary has appeared. They are Fatima in Portugal and Lourdes in France, considered to be the two most popular in the world. By spending time in these two places here is what Mary Jane experienced:

I encountered the Mother of God through prayer, by reading about her message to the world through the children, walking with others from all over the world in the evening Rosary processions, and experiencing a deep sense of peace and purpose.

Visiting Our Lady at Fatima

Fatima is located around 70 miles north of Lisbon. Today it is a large town built around the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is the title given to Mary in Fatima. Mary appeared to three shepherd children from May 1917 to October 1917.

Our Lady of Fatima told the three children in one of her apparitions: “Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world. And after each decade say the following prayer:

Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.

The sanctuary covers a large area including:

  • The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary – the tombs of the three visionaries, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta are located here.
  • The Chapel of Apparitions – built over the area where Our Lady appeared in 1917 from March through October.
  • The Shrine of the Holy Trinity – the recently built church is the largest in Portugal and possibly the fourth largest in the world.
  • The Angel of Peace Chapel – Eucharistic Adoration is offered here.
  • Religious store – books about Fatima (in various languages), rosaries and other sacramentals are available.
  • Candle area – where candles are brought by all the pilgrims and visitors.

While at the Chapel of Apparitions, here is what Mary Jane experienced:

I remember kneeling where today, a beautiful statue of Our Lady stands. A deep sense of peace came over me while at the same time, feeling like her child, imploring her maternal attention. Also, as I knelt at the tombs of the children who saw her – Jacinta and Francisco – who died at a very young age, there was an urgent sense of asking their prayers for those who need conversion. As our pilgrim group drove away on our last day in Fatima, I waved toward the Chapel of Apparitions, waving as a child to a mother, knowing and trusting her love remains with me.

Go To Her In Prayer

She is YOUR mother too! Go to Mary! Say, “Hail Mary, Mother of God take me into your arms, may your Immaculate heart, grant me your maternal guidance. Pray for me!”

Want to learn more about Mary, about Fatima? Pilgrim Center of Hope offers pilgrimages to various Marian Shrines, as well as mini-Marian conferences called Evenings With Mary brought to groups, organizations and parishes.

Do You Believe In Hope?

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HopeThe answer to that question is going to be prompted by the things you do repeatedly, because those things determine your character, destiny, and your outlook or perspective on life.

Before you can believe in something, you have to know what it is. So, let’s take a look at hope in terms of what the Church says it is.

“Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1817)

Pope Francis – About Hope

In his Catechesis on Hope, actually a series of General Audiences, Pope Francis offers a wonderful explanation on hope. As he reflects on Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, he writes:

Paul, before the fears and perplexity of the community, urges it to wear firmly on the head like a helmet, “the hope of salvation”, especially in the trials and most difficult times of our life. It is a helmet. This is what Christian hope is.

When we speak about hope we can be led to interpret it according to the common meaning of the term, that is, in reference to something beautiful that we desire, but which may or may not be attained. We hope it will happen; it is as a desire. People say, for example: “I hope there will be good weather tomorrow!”; but we know that there might be bad weather the following day…. Christian hope is not like this. Christian hope is the expectation of something that has already been fulfilled; the door is there, and I hope to reach the door.

What do I have to do? Walk toward the door! I am certain that I will reach the door. This is how Christian hope is: having the certainty that I am walking toward something that is, not something that I hope may be.

…Our resurrection too, and that of our departed loved ones, therefore, is not something that may or may not happen, but is a certain reality, because it is rooted in the event of Christ’s Resurrection. Thus, to hope means to learn how to live in expectation. Learn how to live in expectation and find life.
(Catechesis on Hope; The helmet of hope, 1 Thes. 5: 4-11)

Hope Brings Blessings To You And Those Around You

Recently we interviewed a woman who had been on an international pilgrimage with Pilgrim Center of Hope. She not only believes in hope, but she also received special blessings as a result of that hope.

Terri Espinoza – Holy Land Pilgrimage
Hope and the sense of God’s love is what Terri Espinoza experienced while visiting all the holy sites where Jesus Christ actually walked and lived. Holding back tears, Terri said, “How grateful to have a merciful Jesus, who through his suffering, gives us everlasting life, and to think that because of his death, there will be a reunion with our loved ones we have already sent off to heaven.

Terri went on to say, “He lives in our daily lives, if we just open our lives to him, and make him part of our daily lives. He is there waiting. When we do (let Him in) we have less anxiety and life is more peaceful”.

Our Mission

Those that live lives of deep faith, hope and trust in God’s mercy, know and believe that if we remain in Him, whatever we ask of Him, He shall grant. (cf.  John 15: 1-8)

Whether you are in search of hope or wish to deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ, Pilgrim Center of Hope is here for you. Our mission: Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter Him as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Please explore our website to learn about the various ways this ministry can serve you and especially those you know who may be in need of hope.

Hope Makes All the Difference

Imagine being an abused wife, being widowed after a tragedy, and losing your only two sons to illness. That’s exactly what happened to St. Rita of Cascia. Yet in spite of and in the midst of all these trials, Rita managed to maintain hope and trust in God’s mercy. Throughout her life St. Rita prayed regularly and developed a strong relationship with Jesus Christ. Today she is recognized as the patron of lost and impossible causes.

You are invited to share in a Day & Evening of Hope, happening on May 10th at Pilgrim Center of Hope. Spiritual activities include morning Mass, St. Rita of Cascia; her story & relic presentation, plus a presentation on hope (click on the link above for the full schedule).

“Can You Hear Me Now?”

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Can you hear me nowGod Wants You To Be Connected To Him

 When it comes to our cell-phones or cable TV, we all insist on having a good connection without any interruptions! When you have a good connection you get crystal clear sound and a life-like picture. We love the clarity because it intensifies the message and the experience!

And so it is with God. If we are to reap the benefits of what God has revealed to us through the Church and the Scriptures, we must have a constant – uninterrupted – connection to Jesus Christ who is the source of everything that is good.

Fortunately for all of us, we have complete control over how to insure that we maintain a strong connection with Our Lord.

He Is the Vine We Are the Branches

 Jesus said to his disciples:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 5)

Long before modern technology, Jesus gave us the image of the vine and the branches to emphasize how critical it is to be connected to him. Using this imagery, we could say that when we are baptized we are grafted onto the vine which is Jesus Christ and we are sustained by his very life. Everything we need, so that we can be living branches connected to Jesus Christ is present in the sacraments of his Church.

Nourishment comes in the form of:

  • The Word of God as proclaimed at Holy Mass every day
  • Holy Communion – his true and real presence
  • The Sacrament of Reconciliation – gives us the grace to overcome temptation
  • A choice to be faithful to what God has revealed to us through the Church
  • Daily Prayer
  • Associating with godly people

When we stay connected to Christ, he gives us the grace to do what we cannot do on our own. Only then can we bear fruit, which is the purpose of every branch.

Saints In-tune and Connected With the Wisdom of God’s Plan

 Before they were saints, Bernadette, Catherine Laboure, and Therese of Liseiux experienced trials comparable to or greater than what you and I have to deal with in our daily lives.

Each of them could have let their connection to Jesus Christ wane or worse grow interrupted by distancing themselves from God, the sacraments, and the Church.

But instead they did as Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16: 24)

The other thing that they all had in common was that they loved God more than themselves and made him the priority of their lives. By choosing to stay connected to Jesus Christ and in-tune with his plan for them they grew in virtue and in holiness.

When we stay connected to Jesus Christ, as living branches we bear fruit and glorify God in our daily life. In the words of St. Irenaeus, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

The Best Servants Know Who They Are In Christ

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In her book Where there is love, there is God, St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote,

“How do you know, love, and serve God? How do you prove that you love him? In the family, the father proves his love by all that he does for his children, for his wife. We prove our love for Jesus by what we do, by who we are.”

Each and every one of us is called to service. In fact, our growing in Christ-like character is dependent upon our giving of ourselves to others.  A servant is one who, even when in positions of leadership, seeks to lead and influence others through a life given in ministry for the blessing of others and their needs. At the heart of the servant is unselfish servanthood.

Being of service requires that we step outside of ourselves – our self-importance and our self-satisfaction – and that we reach out to meet others in need; devoting the time, attention, and positive attitude necessary to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Have you considered how God may be calling you to serve? Service comes in a wide range of ways: volunteering of your time, writing someone a note of encouragement, paying someone a hospital visit, providing a meal for a homeless person, sharing a hug with a friend or family member who is hurting, or perhaps a thoughtful random act of kindness.

Service Requires Time, Effort, and Heart

On the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 2016, Pope Francis used the occasion to speak of Mary’s encounter with her cousin Elizabeth as a lesson in service and joy in the Christian life.

“Serving others is a Christian sign […] For Mary, a teen girl, to travel without hesitation to help her cousin shows great courage […] Mary teaches us with her Visitation how to show concern for others.”

During the same homily, Pope Francis gave his audience words to contemplate: “Persons who describe themselves as Christian and who are unable to reach out to others, to go and meet them, are not totally Christian.”

Our Model of Service

“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”(Mark 10:45) During his public ministry, our Lord demonstrated time and time again the words of Matthew 23:11 – The greatest among you will be your servant.

The washing of the feet on the night before his crucifixion is perhaps the most striking example of the message of being a servant to others no matter how menial the task. In Christ’s time, washing the feet of one’s house guests would have been reserved for a slave. John 13 best illustrates the source and nature of the servant heart, especially the directive given to the disciples: “And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other.” (John 13:14)

On Holy Thursday of 2017 – as if to underscore this message of service to others, Pope Francis travelled 45 miles outside of Rome to the penitentiary in Paliano to wash the feet of inmates.

Our Call To Service

When we make the conscious choice to serve others, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to be the presence of Christ for those we serve. When serving others, our motives need to be pure. We cannot and must not be concerned with gaining status or recognition. And we must serve all people equally, regardless of their state in life. Our mission must be to build up the People of God.

At the end of our journey, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have or how much money we made, but by our service to others. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

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).

 

 

Do Not Be Afraid To Receive God’s Forgiveness

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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.