Category Archives: femininity

Who Will Never Leave Me?



As a pilgrim with us to the Holy Land, Nan Balfour touched the very Tomb of Christ and Rock of Calvary. She walked where Mary Magdalene became the Apostle to the Apostles, spreading the unbelievable news that Jesus is alive! In celebration of Mary Magdalene, and of Our Lady of Fatima who said, “I will never leave you,” we share this reflection by Nan:

Following an encounter with Jesus Christ, I heard these words, “I love you! You are exactly who I created you to be. I promise, you will never feel alone again. I am with you always.” With those few words, God reached through my pain, my sins, my past, deep inside my dark, cold loneliness. I took hold of His Hand allowing our Lord, my Savior, to pick me up, put me on His shoulders and Shepherd me back to the fold of His Catholic Church that I had wandered away from years ago, believing it held no place for me.

Sacrifice of MassOver these past 14 years, I have challenged our Lord to keep His promise and He has answered me through the Treasures of His Church:

Jesus in the Sacraments – Our Lord is Really, Truly Present in the Sacraments. I can be in and with our Creator, our Savior every day by participating at Mass, receiving Communion and through Reconciliation. Anytime day or night, I can sit/kneel and just be in the Presence of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit through Adoration of the Eucharist.

Fellow Disciples in The Body of the Church – Though raised Catholic, I grew up in what is now called the poorly catechized ‘lost generation’ of post-Vatican II Catholics born between 1960-1978. When I returned to the Church in my early forties, I met many beautiful priests, sisters and lay women and men facilitating Scripture studies, Prayer Groups and Catechism classes at area Catholic parishes . . . and I took advantage of them.

Through the honesty and sincerity of the women in faith sharing and prayer groups, I discovered I was not the fraud I thought. To my joy, I discovered each of us is flawed; sinners all, helping each other in fellowship work out our salvation together! Many of them have become true, genuine friends for life.

Our Blessed Mother – Like many people, including Catholics, I had a problem with Mary. Even though I believed when Jesus told St. John at the Cross, “Behold Your Mother,” that He was saying the same to all of us, I would not go to her for help. My deep feelings of inadequacy made me think she was disappointed in me because of all my faults, or worse, blamed me in my sins for the suffering of her Son. Blessedly, though God will not overstep our free will, He has given His Mother Mary, who is fully human, no such impediment. Like any good mother, she knows her children, what is best for them and takes her vocation to womanhood very seriously. She will do everything in the power given her by God, to bring us to her Son. I know, because it happened to me.

Heavenly Friends – Communion of Saints – One morning following daily Mass and my weekly prayer group, a woman I have never seen before or since came right up to me, stopped, looked me in the eyes and said, “You are going to see the relic of St. Mary Magdalene today aren’t you?” Startled, I responded, “I don’t know, maybe.” She walked on saying behind her, “It’s going to be great!” and left a prompting in my heart that I am being told what to do. Looking back, I believe she was my guardian angel, but at the time, I resisted intent on tackling my long ‘to do’ list for the day. Like a whiny daughter being dragged by her mother, I found myself a few hours and many promptings later in line to look at the shin bone of the ‘sinful woman’ who knelt at the Cross on Calvary. Once inside the cool, quiet of the Church, this friend of Jesus and Mary, whispered in my heart, “When our Lord and Lady looked at me, I did not see disappointment or blame in their eyes, I saw gratitude. They wanted me with them, just as they want you.”

From Mass, my prayer group and my encounters with heavenly friends that day, I learned what it means to be embraced in the arms of the Mystical Body of Christ. I have never felt alone again. My guardian angel was right, “It was great!”

Every year, close to 3,000 women who help make up the Mystical Body of Christ, come to Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Catholic Women’s Conference and we encounter Jesus where He is Truly, Really Present in the Eucharist, in the Mass and in Reconciliation. We offer the Rosary with the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother. We find new friends in the saints through the speaker presentations and this year, perhaps even sitting next to us! And, we enjoy fellowship with other flawed, sinners as we all help each other work out our salvation.

Feeling alone? I invite you to come join us . . . It’s going to be great!

Walking with Mary: The What and the How of the New Evangelization



We Catholics have a mission to evangelize. We are called by our baptism to work in and through our daily lives, whether professed religious (priest/sister) or as a lay person working and living out in the world, to bring the Gospel message to everyone. This Gospel message is the proclaiming of the Kingdom of God so that all people may be liberated from sin and freed from the Evil One through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Does this surprise you?

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi – On Evangelization in the Modern World. Pope Paul VI writes,

“She (The Church) prolongs and continues Him. And it is above all His mission and His condition of being an evangelizer that she is called to continue. […] Thus it is the whole Church that receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important to the whole, (15).”

If this not only surprises you, but frightens you, take heart! The Church, through Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Francis, have provided what every mission needs to be successful: The ‘What’ and the ‘How.’

What is the Mission of Evangelization in the Modern World?

When Jesus sent His disciples on this mission, He told them, “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, (Mat 28:19-20).” And they did! Christianity spread around the globe.

Today, that Christianity is losing ground and many baptized, even those who attend Sunday Mass, do not shape their lives around the one they profess to follow, Jesus Christ. It is to those who Pope Saint John Paul II said we need a New Evangelization.

How do we achieve the Mission of Evangelization in the Modern World?

Pope Francis, who called Evangelii Nuntiandi, “The greatest pastoral document that has ever been written,” gives the ‘how’ of this mission in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium-Joy of the Gospel:

“In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples, (cf. Mt 28:19) (120).”

Walking with Mary

On this feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we see in her the perfection of the missionary disciple.

Mary of Nazareth was conceived without Original Sin and full of grace, but she still needed to be evangelized to become first a disciple, then a missionary one. Received as an answered prayer to the childless, St. Anne and St. Joachim, she was returned to the Giver at the age of three to be presented at the Temple. There she learned the Scriptures and how to pray. At fourteen, she received the message of God from the mouth of the Angel Gabriel and in turn gave this message to the World in her Son, Jesus Christ.

In the thirty years before Jesus made disciples of many men and women, He evangelized her. Mary learned in the raising of and listening to her Son how to shape the apparent contradiction of her virginal life around the Mystery of being the Mother of God. She made choices to follow her Son wherever He desired to go by making haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth and in escaping to Egypt in confident obedience to her faithful spouse, St. Joseph. Though full of grace at the Annunciation, Mary continued to grow in grace and surely came to understand what she most perfectly witnessed as a missionary disciple: Through discipleship to Jesus; the Son of God, the more you give of the grace given to you, the more you receive in return.

Your Mission . . . Should You Choose to Accept it

As we end this year and look forward to next, take some time to ask yourself if you are indeed a disciple of Jesus Christ. Do you go to Mass every Sunday? Is your daily life shaped by Jesus and His Gospel message? Are the decisions you make – little and big – founded on the Creed? Do you pray every and often each day? Do you frequent the Sacraments? Do you read Scripture and study the rich treasure of our Catholic faith?

If not, then let your first recruit be you! Start by going to Mary, offering a Rosary or even one Hail Mary prayer, asking her to help you become a missionary disciple. She will surely direct you in how to follow Jesus. Perhaps she will:

  • Encourage you to take advantage of opportunities at your parish to learn more about our faith through faith/bible studies.
  • Ask you to join a service group at your parish or another Catholic ministry.
  • Share with you the needs of family and those in your workplace and teach you how to pray to God in how best to witness by example and word.

The Pilgrim Center of Hope is Looking for a Missionary Disciple Just Like You!

The Pilgrim Center of Hope exists to connect men and women to God and His Church through a variety of opportunities that include annual Catholic Men’s, Women’s and Seniors’ Conferences, Afternoon Tea with the Saints, Evenings with Mary, through media with monthly Today’s Catholic newspaper column, Living Catholicism, spiritual tools including books and monthly newsletter, this The Pilgrim Log and a weekly television/radio show, Catholicism Live! . . . just to name a few!

Feel free to contact us or come by and visit the Pilgrim Center of Hope and pray with us in our Gethsemane Chapel, where we offer the Divine Mercy Chaplet each weekday at 3:30pm.

Choice for Catholics



We hear the word ‘choice’ advertised often these days. . . especially in an election year.

For Catholics, we are blessed at Mass every Sunday to advertise to the world what we believe and who we choose to be when we profess as Church, our Creed.

The Nicene Creed is our Profession of Faith and through our witness in the day to day journey of striving to live it out, we Catholics are easily recognized.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

“Our profession of faith begins with God, for God is the First and the Last, the beginning and the end of everything. The Credo begins with God the Father, for the Father is the first divine person of the Most Holy Trinity; our Creed begins with the creation of heaven and earth, for creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works.” (CCC 198)

Each Catholic’s free will choice to be what we profess means:

  • We must acknowledge one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who is Creator of all things visible and invisible.
  • We must live out this belief in the Lord, the giver of life, in all circumstances, convenient and inconvenient.
  • We must choose life for creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works.

To call yourself Catholic and profess differently . . . is simply false advertising.

The Pilgrim Center of Hope is a Catholic Evangelization Ministry which exists to help Catholics live out their faith and share it with others through a variety of opportunities. Want to know more? We invite you to join us on Saturday, October 29th, 2016 for our annual Prayer Brunch benefiting the Pilgrim Center of Hope. Learn more about what we profess and what we do at

The Secret to Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right


What eligible man or woman has not asked the question, “How do I know if insert name here is the person I should marry? Increasingly, the young adult generation is asking a more despairing question, “Why should I marry at all?”

According to statistics, 40-50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. The percentage is even higher for subsequent marriages, which proves that most who divorce did not learn from their mistakes how to either select a good spouse or how to be one.

It is no wonder that a growing majority of people are choosing not to marry. Many are the result of broken homes and they know the pain of their parents separating. It has caused deep wounds and they are not willing to enter into the same situation that has already caused them so much suffering.

Our Catholic faith discerned through Scripture, however, professes marriage as God’s will and is clearly stated through this encounter between Jewish authorities and our Lord Jesus Christ:

Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying,
Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery” (Mat 19:3-9.)

So, how can God expect us to marry and stay married when it is so very difficult?

Because as always, God never asks of us what He does not provide as a way for us to succeed; and this way is the way of virtue.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines virtue as a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself (CCC 1803.) St. Gregory of Nyssa said, “The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.”

So, imagine if that man or woman you are dating or are already married to had the goal to always give the best of himself or herself to you. Imagine if you did the same in response. Your marriage would grow in perfection, in holiness!

Sarah Swafford, author, speaker, one-time college dormitory resident manager, and one of our speakers at this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference has listened to hundreds of young men and women lament their romantic relationships and the dearth of worthy partners to date, let alone marry.

couple walkingAfter listening to countless conversations, she began to ask them, “What traits and characteristics do you find most attractive?” Whether she asked men or women, the responses were very similar and the list of attributes lined up with a life lived in virtue.

Sarah has made a chart of the simply irresistible virtuous woman and man and encourages us to take the virtue challenge. What she discovered from the many men and women who have strived to live out the virtues of this challenge, is a movement away from self and towards the other. This human effort striving for good formed characters rich in kindness, confidence, honesty, responsibility, humility, sensitivity, forgiveness and compassion. Who wouldn’t want to be married to someone like that? Who would not want to be someone like that?!

The success of this virtue challenge is that it draws us into the work of God; and whenever we cooperate with His plan for our lives, His grace kicks in perfecting our nature. In other words, our human efforts become super-charged!

Scripture confirms this in 1 Thessalonians, 4:7-8, “For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who [also] gives his holy Spirit to you.

The secret to finding Mr. or Mrs. Right is to become Mr. or Mrs. Right, or as Sarah says, “Become the man or woman of your dreams and you will attract the man or woman of your dreams!” And this is true whether you are looking to marry or are already married. What joy to wake one day and discover that through your human effort combined with God’s grace, the one sleeping next to you for the last 5, 10, 20 years is growing once again attracted to you and you to him/her!

I encourage you to go to and take the virtue challenge, and I invite women to see Sarah speak and share more at this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference on September 9-10th!

Painting by Artist, Leonid Afremov “Misty Mood”.

It’s a Topic of a Sensitive Nature


What I thought was my biggest weakness has turned out to be the way for me to imitate Mary, the Mother of God, and become the woman God has created me to be. What is it? Madonna-Child

Sensitivity. The dictionary defines sensitivity as:

1. Readily or excessively affected by external influences
2. Having acute mental or emotional sensibility
3. Aware of and responsive to the feelings of others
4. Easily pained, annoyed, etc.

Yep, that’s me.

I never saw this nature of mine as a good thing. My sensitivity would cause a thoughtless remark to crush me. I could not control the tears and flushed face that sent me fleeing to my room; or if not possible, to the very dark corner inside of me. My inflamed emotions would curse me, “Why do you let these remarks cut you to the bone!?”

My conclusion: There is something seriously wrong with me.

After my ‘encounter with Jesus’ at age 41, I returned to the Catholic faith determined to find my place in His Church. Seeking led me to discover “The Woman’s Pope,” Pope John Paul II, who wrote extensively on the holy vocation of womanhood. He coined the term for women’s nature, the Feminine Genius, and said the attributes of a woman’s nature are generosity, maternity, receptivity and sensitivity.

This was the first time I heard that sensitivity was a good thing.

Pope John Paul II says not only is it part of a woman’s feminine nature, but it is greatly needed to aid in humanizing the world. A woman’s sensitivity takes into account the feelings and needs of the ‘other’ and contributes, along with the other attributes, in valuing the dignity of every human person.

So, then why did my sensitivity cause me such angst?

What I have learned is that it matters whether your sensitivity is ordered or disordered. A disordered sensitivity is usually rooted in fear and expresses itself in fight or flight (for example: me.) An ordered sensitivity is rooted in hope and expresses itself in courage.

To see what an ordered sensitivity looks like we have to look no further than our Blessed Mother, the exemplar of the Feminine Genius, at the Wedding Feast in Cana (John 2:1-11).

Mary, readily affected by external influences (def. #1) caused by the dilemma of no wine in the middle of a party, and aware of the embarrassment it would cause her friend (def. #3), responds by asking her Son to remedy the problem (def. #2). Jesus responds, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”

Ouch! That had to cut her to the bone (Def. #4).

Many have written about this ‘rebuke’ of Jesus to His mother and what we should make of it.

I believe this remark did in fact “cut her to the bone” and I believe Jesus rebuked her on purpose. He wanted to expose the place where His mother was most vulnerable; her sensitive nature and get right in there where either fear or hope takes root. He knew her request would set everything in motion, ending their quiet family life together. He knew, as Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, has written, “Once His ministry had started, Jesus would have nowhere to rest his head, and Mary nowhere to rest her heart.” In this tender place where the Cause of her joy was to become the Cause of her sorrow, would she choose to hold on to the Reason for her hope, come what may?

We know her choice by her response. Courageously turning towards the ‘other’ she tells the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.”

This made me wonder, Were all those times I was crushed by some perceived slight, Jesus asking the same of me?

I’ve contemplated this through many years of daily rosaries and have made a most wonderful discovery: the Blessed Mother has been working in the garden of my soul, preparing it for Jesus. Through the meditation of the mysteries, her stories of Jesus have loosened the weeds of fear, softened the ground with her tears and fertilized it with her intercessory prayer.

A few years ago, after a hurtful episode that I handled very poorly, I fled in shame to my dark interior place of hurt, to lick my wounds and suffer alone. In this familiar hurt, I confess, I let doubt grow. Cowering in the dark corner of my mind, I heard Jesus ask, “You do know I can see you, right?”

Ouch, right to the bone!

It hurt, but this time my Mother’s work was bearing fruit and I sensed a deeper question was being asked, “Are you ready for Me to come in?”

Making room for Mary’s Heart to rest His Head, I chose the Reason for my hope, come what may.

Messages to the Heart



For centuries, women have enjoyed receiving notes or letters with sweet messages.  Whether they were from beaus, husbands or friends, these messages often lead to nice feelings and romantic emotions. Many famous poets, writers and musicians were known to write lengthy letters filled with expressions of passion and romance. Mark Twain wrote a love letter to his future wife, Olivia Langdon, on May 12, 1869. In it he wrote:

Out of the depths of my happy heart wells a great tide of love and prayer for this priceless treasure that is confided to my life-long keeping. You cannot see its intangible waves as they flow towards you, darling, but in these lines you will hear, as it were, the distant beating of the surf.

Oh yes, women do enjoy receiving sweet messages from those who love them!  I began to think about letters written by men to communities, such as St. Paul’s writings to the community of Corinth, where he tells them about the way of love.

Love is patient, love is kind. … It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).

Paul’s message penetrates heart and mind. His message directs them to love others.

A letter by another man of influence that gave direction, meaning, joy, and hope, was written by Pope John Paul II . On June 29, 1995, he wrote a letter giving thanks to all women throughout the world for their femininity.  When I read that letter, I took it personally. As a woman, I was so proud and happy to learn of the dignity and vocation of women being so eloquently articulated.

Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman!  Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.  (sect 2)

Not only is John Paul II speaking to all women, he is speaking directly to the hearts and minds of every individual woman, and is giving thanks to God for the gift of our femininity.  It is a beautiful letter written by a man who knew about the dignity and rights of women.

In preparation for Valentine’s Day, stores offer numerous cards with scenes of couples in passionate embrace and with messages describing their emotions. However, I’ve noticed how commercialism has portrayed these messages outside the true dignity of love between man and woman with sexual innuendos that reduce individuals to objects of sexual satisfaction.

This Valentine’s Day, or any day you share your romantic feelings with the one you love, think about adding a message that would help the other recognize their dignity as created in the image of God, as a son or daughter of God. Your expressions of passion and romantic feelings will follow well.

Mary’s fiat: “Bring it on!”

"Annunciation" by Vasily Surikov (1914)

“Annunciation” by Vasily Surikov (1914)

It is only recently I took the time to appreciate the mother of Jesus.

I was born in the 1960s, came of age in the 1970s and soaked in the culture that can best be summed up with the song lyric, “I am woman, hear me roar.”

I never questioned if I had a voice because I just assumed I did. I did not know the woman whose only place was in the kitchen. My Mom was a very happy homemaker but never modeled that stereotypical 1950s version. My parents raised five daughters with the idea that our world was open to whatever we wanted to achieve.

My mother has always had a strong devotion to our Blessed Mother, but somewhere along the way I grew in the opinion that she was too meek and timid and no model for modern women like myself. It didn’t help that she was just too perfect and I was far from it. I remember thinking, “It’s easy to be Mary. If I was born ‘full of grace’ and without original sin, I would be holy too.”

Detail from "Missal of Bernhard von Rohr,Archbishop of Salzburg"(1481)

Detail from “Missal of Bernhard von Rohr, Archbishop of Salzburg” (1481)

I discovered the true Mary one day while meditating on the Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation and on her fiat – her yes to God.

I compared her life to Eve’s, the first woman born without original sin. I believed Eve had gotten a bad rap, “How can a woman who had no idea about sin or evil know that the serpent was conning her?” Yes, she was gullible and naïve, but culpable?

My Catholic faith teaches that Eve’s choice evicted mankind from paradise and Mary’s choice restored the dignity of mankind; but I wondered, “Who had the easier choice?”

I imagined the culture Mary lived in and saw a young woman living 2000 years ago in violent and masculine Judea. Much like many cultures in that same region today, Mary possessed no rights or status as far as society was concerned. True, she was sinless and full of grace but must have observed all her life the inhumanity of man to one another and the consequence of sin in her world. She knew Scripture but also had to know what justice her society would dole out to an un-wed girl with child. But with no assurance of what the future brings and only a knowledge and trust in God’s love for her, Mary makes her choice, “May it be done unto me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

In Eden, Eve did not have to work for food, shelter or clothes. She felt no shame and had all of nature at her disposal. She did not know sin because there was no sin. The only rule is that God forbade her to eat or touch the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden or “You will die.” (Genesis 3:3) Her trust in God’s love and care for her should have been rock solid but, “She took some if its fruit and ate it,” (Genesis 3:6) choosing instead to trust the words of the lying serpent, “You certainly will not die.” (Genesis 3:4)

I had it all backwards. Eve was the meek and timid one; allowing the opinion of another creature to question her intelligence and knowledge.

"The Virgin of the Rosary" by Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1650)

“The Virgin of the Rosary” by Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1650)

Mary knew what those around her would think, but secure in her value as a daughter of God, drew on this knowledge and with real courage gave her fiat what in today’s vernacular could have been, “Bring it on!”

Mary was a woman who defied what the culture said about her womanhood and stood erect in her personal dignity as a creature made in the image and likeness of God who loves her unconditionally. She was fearless, she was courageous; a true model for the woman of today.

I regret my former opinion of our Mother. I now know she would have been a great companion along my path of singlehood, newly married and young mother. What hurt, guilt, sin and obstacles to happiness I could have avoided had I just drawn on the strength of this woman secure in her womanhood.

With Mary as my model for the modern woman, I grow in the confidence to defy this culture of lies and give my own “Bring it on!” fiat. With every Hail Mary I recite, she encourages me to have courage in who God created me to be, to be fearless in expressing my femininity and to welcome a life pregnant with the Way, the Truth and the Life in her Son, Jesus Christ.

Why do Catholics need a “New Evangelization”?


On October 11, 2012 Catholics began The Year of Faith with an emphasis on the “New Evangelization.” This was also the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council (a.k.a. “Vatican II”), which was primarily an effort to facilitate greater involvement of the laity in the life of the Church.

The mission of the Church is not only to bring men the message and the grace of Christ but also to permeate and improve the whole range of the temporal. The laity, carrying out this mission of the Church, exercise their apostolate therefore in the world as well as in the Church, in the temporal order as well as the spiritual. These orders are distinct; they are nevertheless so closely linked that God’s plan is, in Christ, to take the whole world up again and make it a new creation, in an initial way here on earth, in full realization at the end of time. The layman, at one and the same time a believer and a citizen of the world, has only a single conscience, a Christian conscience; it is by that he must be guided continually in both domains. (Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, 772)

Demonstration for the legalization of abortion. Haarlem, The Netherlands, 1981.

A Pope’s Prophecy Fulfilled

About the same time as the Second Vatican Council, there was a general rebellion by many against any recognized authority; civil and religious. This coincided with the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. It was at that time when Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) and predicted that if society would accept artificial birth control as a desirable way to eliminate pregnancy, there would be severe consequences. He said artificial birth control seeks to eliminate the possibility of procreation from sexual union; reducing it to an experience of pleasure only. He said the result would be an increase in abortions, divorce, and rape, violence against women, pornography and homosexuality. His predictions have come true.

First of all, adultery and fornication became acceptable and then unfaithfulness in marriage, which has led to a high divorce rate. And presently, there is an all-out effort by many in the entertainment industry, media, educational system and politicians to accept homosexuality as a legitimate alternative lifestyle.

The family has been decimated. In this country, more than half of marriages end in divorce and only one-third of children will live with both biological parents. Even children who live with both parents often have little quality time with them because both parents work. Psychologists tell us that if children do not bond with their parents in their formative years, they will likely develop psychological problems, some very serious. Children need to bond with both their mother and their father. The number-one reason why young girls find themselves in troubling situations is because they never bonded with their father. God has a great plan for families, but He must be part of the plan. When a husband and wife pray together, pray with their children and spend quality time with them, the children have a much better chance of doing well in school and in life.

Are We Free, or Enslaved?

More than two hundred years ago Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Because of the moral decline in this country we find that the government is becoming our “master” and our religious freedoms are being taken away. Many who call themselves Christian do not recognize the danger of the direction in which we are headed.

This is why we need a “New Evangelization.” To be evangelized is to become a new creation in Christ so that we can “…know, love and serve God in this life and be happy with Him for all eternity.” It is in a faithful relationship with God that we reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity. When we are evangelized, we will have a desire to form a truly Christian conscience that will be our guide in all matters—secular and spiritual. Only then will we be able to fulfill our task of “making this world a new creation.”

The promises that Jesus gives us in Holy Scripture are true, but we, for our part, must undergo conversion and surrender our lives to Christ. It is in the plan of God that every person goes through this process, so that we can live in His love and mercy.

Women: Be the Light!


In this very challenging time in which we live, where our faith is being put to the ultimate test, God wants us to remember that He sent His Son into the world to be Our Light and to remove the darkness forever. He also told us:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Jesus wants each and every one of us to be the light for HIM first but also be that example for others. If we all could take up our crosses and learn to be the light for others, we could set this world on fire!  We need to come together and support each other now more than ever.

Women especially have challenges with this task since many of us are chatty, gossipy, jealous, and insecure by nature.  Many women I know would rather go with the flow than choose to go against it.  I am very blessed to know a handful of strong, virtuous, holy women who choose to be the light for me and for many others.  It is not easy to be the light in the midst of this very turbulent time. Yet, the time is upon us to not only hear this message but live it.

I know as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend there are many times I still feel dark moments.  There are struggles and challenges that are placed before me that seem unbearable.  As I march through these challenging times, I believe the Lord wants all of us women to be the light for one another.  I have felt recently the Lord shows me that when I am having those dark moments to look to the light (strong, virtuous, holy women) He has placed in my life to help light my way out of the darkness.

If we as women would be the light for one another by comforting and supporting each other, we could be unstoppable.

Written by Elizabeth Boyle-Contreras (Catholic Women’s Conference Steering Committee member)