Author Archives: Robert V Rodriguez

About Robert V Rodriguez

I am a native San Antonian and life-long Catholic, passionate about my faith, with devotions to the Blessed Sacrement, Our Lady, and the Holy Trinity. As the Public Relations and Outreach specialist at Pilgrim Center of Hope, I am able to use my background in journalism, broadcast communications, and public relations to guide people to Christ. My favorite saints are Pope St. John Paul II, St. John the Evangelist, St. Therese, and St. Louis de Montfort.

In Times of Weakness, Stay Centered in Christ

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As I prepared to write this blog on staying focused on Christ when faced with self-doubt, I thought about the various times in my life when I allowed myself to become problem-centered instead of Christ-centered. Times when I forgot about how crucial it is to run, not walk, toward Jesus whenever I start feeling inadequate. When I got problem-centered, I would focus on things like:

  • I lack in patience and need to react less to the words and actions of others
  • I don’t spend enough time reading and studying Church teachings
  • I lack in self-discipline when it comes to eating healthy and exercising
  • I don’t spend enough time in prayer
  • I am not as virtuous or holy as I should be

At one time or another we all have fixated on what’s wrong with our life, instead of running to the waiting arms of Jesus. When we are weary, we all need to be more like St. John and seek to rest our head on the chest of Jesus. Herein lies the strength we need to persevere with boldness, passion, and joy!

It is precisely because of our weaknesses, our sinfulness, and our imperfections that Christ died on the cross! In these moments when we feel unworthy and like throwing in the towel, we need to fix our eyes on Christ:

  • Salvation History – from his Incarnation to his Passion, Death, and Resurrection
  • Scripture – the Living Word, his instruction on how to overcome sin and temptation
  • His Triumphant Return – when he will bring salvation to those who eagerly await him

When we are Christ-centered, it not only opens our eyes, but it gives us confidence and the ability to put our total trust in God, no matter what the crisis, challenges, or obstacles.

So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. – Hebrews 4:16

Saint Paul, who was afflicted at times by a sense of brokenness, failure, and persecution, gave us some powerful words of consolation and encouragement:

We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.  – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

At one of our recent Socials with the Saints, I reminded everyone why we turn to the saints for inspiration to continue on our pilgrim journey toward the Heavenly Jerusalem:

A saint is not someone who never sins, but one who sins less and less frequently and gets up more and more quickly. – St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Just like the saints, all of us – no matter how unworthy we feel at times – can achieve holiness:

…In spite of the fact that we have all sorts of shortcomings and sins and so forth, if we are striving to love our Lord with our whole strength, that is a growing in the sanctity of life. – Fr. Jerry Gehringer, Being a Saint in the World

Second Corinthians, Chapter 12, Verse 7 tells us that St. Paul was given a thorn in his flesh, not an actual thorn, but a source of real pain (frustration) to keep him humble. Since we are not told exactly what the thorn was, let us equate this thorn with whatever chronic difficulty or problem we may struggle with. Here is what God told Paul, after he begged God three times to take the thorn away:

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness (12: 9)

Paul’s response was to say, “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”

We are weak, but we must be courageous in our weakness. And often our courage must be expressed in escaping without looking back, so as not to fall into the trap of wicked nostalgia. – Pope Francis (Homily, July 2, 2013)

Pilgrim Center of Hope is here to provide you with the life-lines (presentations, tools, and resources) that can lead you out of times of turbulence (problems and moments of self-doubt) to encounters with Christ that will restore order and hope in your daily life.

Please join us for our next Day of Hope, on Thursday, November 29, from 10am until 5pm. You will have the opportunity to venerate relics of St. Padre Pio, including a glove worn by the Saint with blood from his stigmata. Mass will be celebrated at 9am. Click on the link above for details.

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Let Nothing Disturb You

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Distractions are everywhere, from our “always on” culture bombarding us with information, to the political-divide in our country, to the pursuit of monetary gain and social status. And then there is contending with injustice, racism, and discrimination, not to mention keeping up with our family and work commitments.

It is harder than ever to stay focused on God. Whenever I find myself feeling overwhelmed or exhausted by distractions or challenges, I immediately turn to two of our “go to” quotes here at Pilgrim Center of Hope:

Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer – Romans 12: 12

Do not be afraid… Put out into the deep and let down your nets – Pope St. John Paul II

Both of these quotes have to do with having total trust in God, no matter what the circumstances are, no matter how bad things might get. Throughout the Bible, there are actually 365 mentions, one for every day, of the message “do not be afraid.”

This past Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that:

For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God – Mark 10: 27

Interestingly enough, this week we celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Avila (October 15). St. Teresa lived a pressured life, marked by poor health, opposition, and an endless workload. Yet, she reformed the Discalced Carmelite Order and wrote some of the most powerful guides for spiritual development, like The Interior Castle and The Way to Perfection. When it comes to remaining focused on God in the midst of a storm, her “God Alone Prayer” says it all:

Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing. God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things. If you have God
you will want for nothing. God alone suffices.

When I was a young adult, before I came to know the “God Alone Prayer,” I let the smallest things disrupt my relationship with God and my spiritual life. Years later, whenever I am under pressure and short on time, I depend on God and prayer to see me through, because I have every confidence that God will show me the way.

Also from this past Sunday’s readings:

I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me – Wisdom 7:7

Aside from turning to this Pilgrim Log for your weekly inspiration, I encourage you to watch our weekly television program Living Catholicism, which airs on Tuesdays, from 11–11:30am on CTSA, Spectrum channel 15.

Each week’s program includes a Message of Hope, an inspirational quote from Scripture, a pope, or a saint, that will help you to stay focused on God, so as to live in hope, as a pilgrim in daily life.

TeresaOfAvilaEvery day, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30am–5:30pm, you are welcome to come and visit our Gethsemane Chapel for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Just outside our chapel, you will be greeted by an antique painting of St. Teresa of Avila holding a scroll with the “God Alone Prayer” in Spanish.

In closing, I want to direct you to the powerful talk presented by Fr. Bruce Nieli at our recent 25th Anniversary Prayer Brunch. Fr. Bruce, Pope Francis’ Missionary of Mercy, will re-awaken you to the hope that God gives!

Love: Seeing His Face

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A heart that loves God and neighbor (cf. Mt 22: 36-40), genuinely and not merely in words, is a pure heart; it can see God […] Keeping a heart free of all that tarnishes love: that is holiness (no. 87).

Those are the words of Pope Francis, taken from his recent Apostolic Exhortation Guadete et Exsultate – On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World.

At a recent taping of our new radio program Journeys of Hope, our Co-Founder and Co-Director, Deacon Tom Fox, spoke eloquently and passionately about trying to imagine what it must have been like when Jesus Christ looked into the eyes of Matthew and said, Come, follow me (cf. Matthew 9: 9-13).

Matthew was a tax collector; individuals who were looked down upon and treated like prostitutes and the worst of sinners. So, we can imagine Matthew’s surprise when Jesus singled him out.

In this instant, Matthew realized, “Christ is calling me! …He knows me! … He loves me!” The words and the look of Jesus must have washed over Matthew with such warmth that he was overcome by the love, peace, and mercy of Christ.

It is this type of transformative grace that Jesus wants all of us to experience! But in order for the Look of Christ …the Gaze of God… to bear fruit, we must respond with conviction and say, Lord Jesus, be the Lord of my life.

One of my favorite passages from The Imitation of Christ is from the section, “On Loving Jesus Above All Else,” which reads in part:

The love of Jesus is faithful and enduring […] He who embraces Jesus shall stand firm forever. Love Him then, and keep Him as your friend, and when all others forsake you, He will never leave you or allow you to perish. […] Your Beloved is of such a nature that He will tolerate no rival; He will have your heart for Himself alone and reign there as King on His rightful throne. (Book Two, Chapter 7)

And then there is the Greatest Commandment handed down by Jesus:
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10: 27). As Christians, our priorities should be as follows: God, Family, Church, Country, and then Work.

Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness? If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy (Gaudete Et Exsultate, no. 151).

I wish everyone reading this the peace and love of Christ. May you see and experience the Gaze of God.

Lord, give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me. – St. Ignatius of Loyola

Every month, Pilgrim Center of Hope offers opportunities to experience God’s love and grace. We invite you to pray before the Blessed Sacrament at our Gethsemane Chapel, also consider our Afternoon Tea with St. Robert Bellarmine (9-13-18) or our Day & Evening of Hope; venerate a stone from Mount Calvary (9-27-18). For times and schedules visit our website at PilgrimCenterofHope.org.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Keep the Faith

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As you read this, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are in the last couple of weeks of preparing for their first game against Michigan on September 1. I am a diehard fan. I attended ND, and my older brother is a graduate. Over the years, I have always ‘kept the faith,’ through the great and not-so-great seasons. As the motto goes, God, Country, and Notre Dame!

Keeping the Faith is all about continuing to believe in someone or something especially when it is difficult to do so.

Faith is our spiritual theme for August. We begin this month by celebrating the Transfiguration of Our Lord. We will conclude the month by marking the feast days of St. Augustine (8-28) and St. Monica (8-27). Not only do the Transfiguration, St. Augustine, and St. Monica provide us with examples of what ‘keeping the faith’ is all about, but they also should encourage our belief in God.

The Transfiguration of Our Lord – August 6

While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white…This is my chosen Son; listen to him(cf. Luke 9: 28, 35).

It was in this moment that the spiritual glory of Jesus became visible to Peter, James, and John. In Latin, trans means across and figura means form or shape. His appearance changed and became glorious!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reveals to us how this inspired the three Apostles to keep the faith: Christ’s Transfiguration aims at strengthening the apostle’s faith in anticipation of his Passion: the ascent onto the ‘high mountain’ (Mt. Tabor) prepares for the ascent to Calvary (CCC 568).

Aside from preparing the three for what was to come, the Transfiguration also connected them to God…that was God’s voice in the cloud. Sometimes God gives us similar special experiences of his grace to strengthen our faith. These moments are intended to sustain us when we face the challenges of life.

Lessons from Another Mother and Son

On the one hand St. Monica is the epitome of not only keeping the faith, but never losing it. Despite the licentious and adventuresome youth of St. Augustine, his mother St. Monica never wavered in her constant and persistent prayer for him. The example of St. Monica should offer each of us hope, encouragement, and inspiration, when it comes to maintaining our faith and trust in God, when faced with what appear to be hopeless causes.

On his road to conversion, St. Augustine asked all the big questions, like who is God, and who am I? Throughout his early life Augustine struggled with family, friends, meaning, and purpose. Sound familiar? What he discovered is that the Christian life is a journey that we walk by faith.

St. Augustine once said, our whole business therefore in this life is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen.

Because of St. Monica’s prayers, God moved in St. Augustine’s life. God is moving – always – in our own journeys as well. Sometimes we don’t realize it, but we are all on the journey to God – one in mind and heart.

Go Irish!

Since the beginning of the 20thCentury, the faith in Notre Dame – the University and the football team – has been so strong that it has created a mystique that is palpable. I’ll never forget the first time I stepped onto the campus at age 12…it was as if the air was charged with electricity.

Faith and belief in God can be quite powerful, we just need to let it flow!

 

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church,  will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Wednesday, August 22nd,  from 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

 

Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. 

 

Is Your Daily Schedule Founded on Christ?

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“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Those are the words of St. Augustine, who before having a profound conversion, lived a sinful lifestyle, which included living with a mistress and fathering a child out of wedlock.

In today’s society, it’s easy to get out of touch with God and our faith. For too many, the spiritual life has gotten deferred and neglected in the midst of worldly occupations, pleasures, pursuits, and distractions.

A Gallup report, released earlier this year, indicates that between 2014 and 2017 only about 39-percent of Catholics attended church in any given week. That’s down from 45-percent between 2005 and 2008, and way down from the 75-percent of Catholics who reported going to Mass on Sunday’s in 1955.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that, Just as God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done(Genesis 2:2),” human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives (CCC, no. 2184).

When asked why they don’t go to Mass, read the Bible or pray, many people will say they just don’t have the time.

The downward trajectory of Sunday Mass attendance by Catholics who have pushed aside keeping the Sabbath holy, speaks to the need for balance and temperance in everyday life, our theme for the month of July.

Balance Is Key

Balance is important, Pope Francis said, for protecting individuals, their families, society and the environment.

The balance Pope Francis speaks of is contingent on Christ being at the center of our daily life.

When I have spent time daily focused on God, He has multiplied my time (enough to go around) just as Jesus did with the fishes and the loaves that fed the multitude (cf. John 6: 1-15).

Clear Away the Obstacles

 Ultimately, we need to clear away all the obstacles that hinder us from drawing near to Christ. Throughout the day, there needs to be a steady flow of nourishment for our soul. How we start the day is crucial to keeping our soul from withering.

This is the perfect time to mention St. Josemaria Escriva, whose legacy is the belief that each of us can, by God’s grace, achieve holiness through the course of ordinary life and work. Here’s what he had to say about how to start the day:

Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness. If with the help of God, you conquer yourself in the moment,you have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day(The Way, no. 191).

Spiritual Routine A Must

 When I get up each day, I make the sign of the Cross and say, Good morning Lord, praise your holy name, I offer you this day with love and thanksgiving. Then I get on to the spiritual & religious practices which have become a regular part of my day:

  • Morning prayers
  • Spiritual reading – New Testament or book suggested by a priest (spiritual advisor)
  • Praying the Angelus or Regina Coeli at noon to honor Our Lady
  • Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Evening Prayers
  • Examination of Conscience

Over the years I have added the Rosary to my daily prayers. I also have a spiritual advisor (a priest or deacon) to guide and advise me. My routine took time to develop, but boy am I glad I did. Having a daily spiritual routine has enabled me to grow in faith and in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Developing a daily spiritual routine is a gradual process to always be seen as a work in progress. Ultimately, the goal should be to find ways to have God at the center of your daily life, and to contribute to that relationship through prayer, Scripture and other spiritual practices, so as to grow in faith and holiness.

 

“Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.”