Category Archives: evangelization

Can I Get a Witness?

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In 2 Peter 1:3-8, we read,

His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love. If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The author of this letter is teaching us. He explains the spiritual steps we can learn to ensure we remain on the path that leads us closer to God daily:

  • Faith, to..
  • Virtue, to..
  • Knowledge, to..
  • Self Control, to..
  • Endurance, to..
  • Devotion, to..
  • Mutual affection to love

What makes this lesson especially worth listening to, is that the author is also a witness.

In Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World), Pope Paul VI, writes,

“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

Long before he became Saint Peter, he was Simon; a son of a man named Jonah, a husband and fisherman. Thanks to an encounter with Jesus Christ, Simon began a journey of faith in being Peter; an Apostle, the rock on which Jesus would build his Church and the first Pope.

It was not an easy road for him, and it never ceased to be a journey. In his book, The Priest is Not His Own, Archbishop Fulton Sheen writes,

“Peter never entirely got rid of Simon. But once called, Simon never ceased to be Peter.”

Even at his martyrdom, he felt unworthy; insisting on being crucified upside down, as he did not merit the death of his Lord.

Saint Peter is a perfect example of a missionary of hope; one who continues to grow humbly in faith as he boldly proclaims Christ’s Gospel message.

We can imagine this letter being penned after years of traveling those spiritual steps; often going forth and back as he gauged his progress and discerned where he may have veered off road. His witness gives us confidence in the merit of learning from teachings of Scripture and by daily walking what we have been taught.

Jesus did not wait for Simon Peter to be perfect, nor does he wait for us.

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Benedict of Nusia will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Tuesday, July 31st from 6:00 -8:30 p.m.

We at Pilgrim Center of Hope embrace this message of hope! We are a small staff, hundreds of volunteers, benefactors, and prayer intercessors; living as missionaries of hope!  We invite you to join us. Come and see! Visit Pilgrim Center of Hope in-person or online.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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What Are You Looking For?

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That is the question Jesus asked two of John the Baptist’s disciples who began to follow him.  Let’s read the story:

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”  The two disciples* heard what he said and followed Jesus.  Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi”, “where are you staying?”  He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” (John 1:35-39).

It is interesting that one of John’s disciple that was following Jesus didn’t answer Jesus’ question immediately; he instead said Where are you staying? Perhaps we can relate to this response; not knowing what to answer when asked What are you looking for?

The question Jesus asks is an important one. Whether we realize it or not, that is a question that stirs in the heart of every one of us. More often than not, people are trying to find the answer through accomplishments as measured by society. So then why is it that so many people who have accomplished great things are still looking to satisfy that question? It is not a rare thing to discover in the news that someone who we thought successful has turned to drugs, alcohol or even suicide.

The reality is, we can only find the answer to that question in the One who asked it of the disciples. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life; outside of him, the pursuit of our purpose for being on this earth will end in sadness and even hopelessness.  It was St. Augustine who said, “Our hearts are restless O’ Lord until they rest in you”. Some of the most renowned sinners in history have become persons filled with joy, peace and hope by following the One who asked the question, “What are you looking for?”

As you are reading this, believe you are loved unconditionally by our Heavenly Father.   You can begin anew today.  How?  Imagine yourself walking with Jesus; He knows you, he looks into your eyes and sees who you are.  Oh sure, He knows what you have done in the past, but that is the past.  He invites you to begin anew, to follow Him now and begin a new life filled with peace and hope.  Ask Jesus to touch your heart with His healing hand.  Experience his love by accepting Jesus into your heart and then follow him.

 

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Benedict of Nusia will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Tuesday, July 31st from 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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birth of St. John the Baptist

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 We only celebrate three birthdays according to the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church: first, the birth of Jesus Christ, December 25th; the birth of the Virgin Mary, September 8th; and today, June 24th, the birth of St. John the Baptist. We celebrate his birthday because of his great importance in the plan of God. He was the last prophet of the Old Testament and the first prophet of the New Testament as he announced the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

St. John was prepared for his ministry by the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to his mother Elizabeth. We recall that when Mary greeted Elizabeth, John leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. Of this event, a Bible commentary states the following: “Although he was conceived in sin like other men, St. John the Baptist was born sinless because he was sanctified in his mother’s womb by the presence of Jesus Christ (then in Mary’s womb). On receiving this grace of God St. John rejoices by leaping with joy__ thereby fulfilling the Archangel’s prophesy, “…and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” Lk 1:15

The birth of John the Baptist was similar to the births of other prophets and holy people called to be a part of God’s salvation plan by the fact that his parents were childless and had reached an age beyond child bearing years. Here we recall the words of Jesus, “…for God all things are possible.”     Mt 19:26. All things are possible for God, but they must serve the purpose of the “coming of the kingdom”.

We might see John as having a difficult life, living in the wilderness eating locust and wild honey, however he knew his purpose. Because he faithfully fulfilled his purpose, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, among those born of woman there has been none greater than John the Baptist.”

His only purpose was to prepare the way for the Lord by baptizing with water and preaching repentance. As John was becoming popular with those who were willing to repent, Jesus came to him to be baptized in the River Jordan. At that point his disciples began to leave him and follow Jesus. John’s response was, “He must increase, I must decrease.” Jn 3:30

Although we are probably not called to live a life like John in the wilderness with his meager diet, we are all called to bear witness to Jesus Christ. We did not receive the Holy Spirit in our mother’s womb, but we did receive the same Spirit in baptism. We not only received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we also received the Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity which connect us intimately with God and we exercise our baptismal priesthood by participating in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet and king.

We participate in the priesthood of Christ by being united to him in our prayers and sacrifices, especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We fulfill our role as prophet by being faithful to what God has revealed to us through His Church and the Scriptures. The truth is prophetic in every age and will win for us friends and enemies just as it did for John. The truth is necessary for our happiness now and for all eternity. We share in the kingship of Christ by being obedient to the will of the Father as Jesus was and by serving God and neighbor. Jesus said, “I came not to be served, but to serve.”

Through our baptism and our participation in the life of the Church we have all we need to discover our true purpose and be a faithful follower of Our Lord. Of course like John we must choose to repent; to overcome sin and grow in virtue. In our prayer we should ask John the Baptist to help us to be heroic in living out our Christian faith and to have great zeal in sharing our faith with others. As we become spiritually mature, like John we should be able to say, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

In a few minutes we will be receiving the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion. We pray that we will have a profound awareness of his Presence which will move us to find our purpose in him.

 

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

 

 

Join the Revolution!

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My family and I are on a food revolution; or I should say, an ‘anti-food’ revolution.

It all began a few months when 1-hour after eating quick microwave white rice, all my joints felt like they were on fire. My husband and I are in our fifties and we are both experiencing physical changes that are making us assess how to manage our health as we age.

I got on the internet to see if I could self-diagnose and found the culprit to be sugar. It seems these processed rice products quickly break down into sugar. I have known for awhile that sugar is my nemesis and the source of joint inflammation, mood swings and indigestion. My husband and I have made a conscious decision awhile ago to reduce to elimination our consumption of sugar. What I did not know until the ‘rice incident’ is how much sugar is put into so many unsuspecting products, such as salad dressings and spaghetti sauce. For a family like ours, that likes our meal preparations to be easy, this discovery came as a shock and a frustration.

I took this all to prayer.

Did you know that God cares even about our health?

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me and I will change your lot […] (Jeremiah 19:11-14)

In prayer, pondering and through the Word of God, my family’s lot has been changed as I came to the realization, For everything created by God is good. (1 Timothy 4:4)

God creates real food; so real food therefore is good. It is the modern economy that pushes low-cost ingredients, that are often not even food, to supplement, replace, and modify what we eat.

I understood that I should make it a goal to find products that contain only real food ingredients. To my relief, and after looking at many, many, product ingredients, I found a number of products, yes, even salad dressing and spaghetti sauce, that fit our criteria. And to my joy, heard the great news from my husband how amazed his doctor was at his healthy lab work. It seems eating real food is quickly healing! I too have experienced so much more energy that I no longer droop around 3pm nor find myself hitting the snooze button.

It seems to me that we, as a culture, have lost sight of how to physically live in the world God created; from eating food that is not actually food, to dieting extremes that exclude what has been for centuries the staple of civilization: Bread.

He brings peace to your borders, and satisfies you with finest wheat. (Psalm 147:12)

We have an epidemic of obesity and diabetes and I wonder if it is because our taste buds may be satisfied by the chemicals that mimic what we find delicious in food, but our bodies soon recognize that there is little here that nourishes. A cycle begins that gears up our appetites in hope of receiving the nutrition that will sustain us on our daily journey, only to cause us to overeat. It is reasonable to see how we are overweight, unhealthy, and chronically tired struggling with little energy for anything besides watching television and playing on our phones.

There are many fronts to this ‘anti food’ revolution including too much trash (did you know that America pays countries to take our trash!?) and toxic plastic containers, just to name two. How are we to begin to follow the best path for our welfare so that we can thrive in God’s beautiful world?

The Catholic Church has recently addressed God’s physical creation in the Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ (on Care of our Common Home) written by Pope Francis, and it is worth the read.

We can also ask our Creator to show us the path to a better life.

  • The Gospels use much food imagery to teach, encourage, and challenge. Spend time daily meditating on the Gospel to see how Jesus viewed food and God’s creation.
  • Jesus, our Lord and Savior, comes to us as food in Bread and Wine!
    • Receive Communion frequently. When we partake knowingly that we are receiving His Real Presence, we become what we eat as Jesus tells us, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst… I myself am the living bread which has come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; and the bread which I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world. (John 6: 31-35, 51)
    • Spend time Adoration in His Eucharistic Presence sharing your concerns spiritually AND physically, and ask the second Person of the Trinity and Son of the Creator of all creation how to follow the path that is for your welfare.
    • Find healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not just a time to confess how we have been ungrateful for and abusive of God’s creation through our sins. It is also where we are at the feet of Jesus and can ask Him to heal us soul, mind . . . and body!

Pilgrim Center of Hope provides events for healing through our Ministry of Conferences and our Days and Evenings of Hope. Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. Let us journey with you!

A Friend in Heaven

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blog photoDid you ever wonder how it must feel for those competing in sports or games to be cheered by the vast crowds? Have you been in a situation yourself when you were applauded for your efforts, especially if it was a challenging one? These feelings are good and can encourage us to continue our efforts or simply just to be satisfied with the invested hard work.

Actually we can be cheered on each day, not only when competing and accomplishing a challenging project. In Hebrews: 12:1-2, we read: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Leader and perfecter of faith.”

I really like this passage because it is so encouraging for us living our daily lives with the various struggles, challenges, and so on. The cloud of witnesses are those in the glory of Heaven, who have made it! They have persevered in running the race, meaning they have succeeded in pressing on with their daily responsibilities. They have lived their lives sustained by their faith and hope in God and now they can help us.

Pope Francis explains it well: They are like us, they are like each of us, they are people who before reaching the glory of heaven lived a normal life, with joys and griefs, struggles and hopes,… The saints, the friends of God, assure us that this promise does not disappoint. *

Some of the Saints we often hear about are St. Anthony of Padua, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Padre Pio and others. St. Therese was known to say often, I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.

 Here is a story related to St. Padre Pio – a woman was concerned for her brother, an alcoholic, who was also experiencing serious health issues. She had visited the village in Italy where Padre Pio lived and learned about his life. She began asking his intervention on behalf of her brother, and after a few weeks, she called her brother to ask about his condition. His voice even projected a joy she hadn’t notice in a long time. He told her about a dream of a priest blessing him, he described this priest wearing a brown habit and gray beard. His sister knew it must have been St. Padre Pio! He continued to share that he no longer had the desire to drink alcohol and wanted to learn more about this priest. As the story continues, the woman gave her brother a book about Padre Pio and a small statue which he kept until his death.

Think about asking a Saint to accompany you through their prayers. Read about their life story and how their struggles, their joys can teach us to run the race, live out our daily life in faith and in hope. “We should never underestimate the power of holiness.…our own daily ‘little way’, our struggles, our sufferings, our joys…if offered in Jesus, with Him and through Him…they can bear fruit and make us saints.” Hans Urs Von Balthasar

 * The Angelus, St. Peter Square, November 1, 2013

 

The Gift of the Eucharist – Christ’s Real Presence – Is for All

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A human being can only survive for about 3 weeks without food. Babies who are not hugged actually stop growing and will eventually die if deprived of all human contact.

Just as the body needs food and water and physical contact to thrive, our soul needs the Eucharist for nourishment and to connect us to the source of all graces and holiness.

On a recent episode of Catholicism Live!, Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI said that through the Eucharist God physically embraces us…a physical union takes place in which Christ deposits his life within us. Wow! As I heard these words, my immediate reaction was to give thanks for the gift of Christ’s body and blood.

For Catholics, the Eucharist is the necessary food for our spiritual journey to our heavenly homeland.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh (John 6: 51).

By receiving the Eucharist regularly, we are able to renew our commitment to the journey of transformation. The Catechism tells us that the Eucharist preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace… and preserves us from further mortal sins (cf. CCC 1392-1393, 1395).

The same flesh Jesus gave us at Calvary through his sacrificial death is what we receive in the Eucharist. At that moment of consecration Our Lord offers himself on the altar of the cross, we are there!

Jesus Wants To Hold Each of Us, To His Heart

Now is a good time to remind everyone that Jesus offered himself up for all of our sins. We are all worthy to receive him in the Eucharist. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are restored to a state of grace that affords us the privilege of receiving the whole Jesus; body, blood, soul and divinity.

Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium tells us the following:

The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak (cf. #47).

Hopefully this meditation reminds you of why the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ and also why we gather on the Feast of Corpus Christi for processions with the Blessed Sacrament.

Because Our Lord comes to us in the form of bread and wine, there remain skeptics out there who don’t believe in the Real Presence. For anyone who may still have a doubt about what actually happens at the moment of consecration, I offer the following:

What the Saints Have to Say

 St. Gregory: “The Heavens open and multitudes of Angels come to assist at the Holy Sacrifice.”

St. Augustine: “The Angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass.”

St. John Chrysostom: “When Mass is being celebrated, the Sanctuary is filled with countless Angels, who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.”

We read in the revelations of St. Bridget: “One day when I was assisting at the Holy Sacrifice, I saw an immense number of Holy Angels descend and gather around the altar, contemplating the priest.

They sang heavenly canticles that ravished my heart; Heaven itself seemed to be contemplating the great Sacrifice. And yet we poor, blind and miserable creatures assist at the Mass with so little love, relish and respect!

Close your eyes and think about this for a moment. Visualize the legions of angels, communion of saints and Mary & Joseph all bowing down in adoration from the moment of consecration until the conclusion of Mass!

The Greatest Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church

 Thirteen-hundred years ago, in the year 700 A.D., a priest had doubts about Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist, while celebrating Mass. At the moment of consecration, the bread became live Flesh and the wine became live Blood. Other clergy at the church of St. Legontian confirmed the miracle as did Church authorities in the community of Lanciano, Italy.

The Body and Blood were preserved. At various times during the Twentieth Century, prominent pathologists have conducted scientific studies on the Flesh and Blood, which have remained intact. The Flesh has the characteristics of the tissue from a human heart. The Blood, which coagulated into five globules, was determined to be type AB, which is the same blood type as that found on the Holy Shroud of Turin.

 There is no greater gift in this life than the gift of the Eucharist! He gives us the gift of himself so that we may enjoy the fullness of life!

 

 

The Mystery & Majesty of the Holy Trinity Is Calling You

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From the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

Even though the Holy Trinity is a mystery beyond our understanding, it is the means God has chosen to unite himself to those who chose to believe what he has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church. We do not have to understand in order to believe, as a matter-of-fact, the opposite is true. Much of what God has revealed to us is mysterious, and yet these mysteries touch our lives in such a profound way that it is possible for us to live in a supernatural relationship with Almighty God.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans he reminds them that if they are children of God, they are also heirs with Christ, “…if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” Rms 8:17 Being a child of God does not make us immune to suffering. However, when we unite our suffering with Christ he gives us the grace we need to persevere and even at times to experience joy during our trials.

At Baptism

We have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Our purpose for being on this earth is to bring to completion the good work that was begun in us at our baptism. God has a great plan for humanity that can only be realized in relationship with him. It is for this reason he has given us the Church and the sacraments. We must remember that in our humanity we inherited a fallen nature and often we are tempted to want to live for ourselves at the expense of others. God has made it possible for us to overcome these temptations that lead to sadness and even hopelessness. He desires to pour his grace into the hearts of those who believe in him. We need God; he created us to be in relationship with him. For this reason Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing.

The only way we can discover God’s plan for us that will allow us to reach our potential for happiness and peace in this life is by being connected to Our Lord through fervent prayer, faithfulness to what he has revealed to us through the Church and the Scriptures and living the sacramental life.

Be Disciples

In the last paragraph of the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew it states, “When they (the Apostles) all saw him (Jesus) they worshiped but they doubted.” What was it they doubted? I believe they doubted in themselves to continue the mission of Jesus once he left them. However, Jesus didn’t doubt in them. He said, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you until the end of the age.”

The doubt that the Apostles had about themselves was removed at Pentecost when they received the Holy Spirit. What Jesus expected the Apostles to do did not so much depend upon them, but on their cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

And so it is with us. When we are confronted with challenges and trials we may be tempted to doubt our ability to preserver, but when we turn to the Lord and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit we can be confident he will give us the grace we need, even if it is for one moment at a time. He may not give us everything we want, but he will give us what we need. That is his promise.

Be Transformed In the Eucharist

It would be good for us to make note of the promises that God has given us in the Scripture. One of those promises is a mystery of our faith. Through the prayers and actions of a priest, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ himself changes the bread and wine into his own Body and Blood during the Holy Mass. He loves us so much that he gives himself, body, blood soul and divinity to those who believe in him and are properly disposed. It is no casual thing that we receive this true and real presence of Jesus into our body and soul. Jesus wants us to cooperate with his presence and be transformed so that we can be his faithful disciples and experience the peace, joy and happiness reserved for those who remain close to him.

Share Your Belief

Faith is a gift from God, but believing is a choice. If we truly believe, we will live our faith and share it with others. That is the basic message of the Gospel and our purpose for being on this earth.

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)

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.