Grace & Chaos

Yesterday was a busy and somewhat chaotic day. It wasn’t at all what I envisioned and at the end of the day the Lord reminded me that was a good thing. His ways are not our ways. I guess that’s thing that has always drawn me to the Mary. She had her plans and God broke through and changed them. Her response wasn’t to throw a fit but simply to proclaim His goodness and invite other people to do so. She shows us how to surrender.

We live in a world where so many people are jockeying for control and power and trying to manipulate and control others. Mary simply surrendered and said, “Be it done unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) If more people were docile to the Holy Spirit and seriously seeking God’s will and not their own, our world would be so different. Until all hearts turn back to God we are going to have chaos. Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit our interior Teacher who helps us to love in the midst of chaos and disappointment.

One of our pilgrims was sick yesterday and stayed behind. Her loving mother also stayed with her. (Moms are awesome!) I am so grateful to report that she is doing better. Another couple of pilgrims were overwhelmed by the aggressive behavior of the street vendors and noisy and chaotic atmosphere on the bus while we had to wait for a lengthy period of time to depart from a gift store and decided to just stay at the hotel and rest. I totally respect their decision. Everyone needs to have the freedom to do what they feel is best to allow the Lord to work with them. Like I stated earlier when the pilgrimage first began, while we were in the Shepherd’s Fields in 2007, I felt really prompted not to follow the group and stay behind and have some quiet time and reflection with a very important song. God directs us in the midst of the chaos and we have to have the ability to break away and follow those promptings. We also have to balance that with being respectful of others and remembering that we are part of a group. There has been some tension with that — that is to be expected. I am proud of how the pilgrims are shouldering all of these challenges!

We are off for Mass at Bethany and then going to the Dead Sea today.

Here are some photos from the events of yesterday.

Have a blessed day!

“Blessed Are They Who Mourn”

Today was very busy with lots of traveling to different spots within a short distance. After breakfast we went to the Mount of Beatitudes to celebrate Mass. There were many other pilgrim groups in the area, but we were able to celebrate an outdoor Mass and Fr. Brian Hoelzen, LCC who has joined our group and is the son of one of the pilgrims was the celebrant and homilist for the Mass. 

He gave an inspirational homily that you can listen to here. The three takeaways from the homily: 1) Don’t blame George. 2) Learn from Antonio. 3) Don’t be like the Marines. 😇 As he was preaching I looked out at the beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee and started thinking of all my fishing trips with my father. The waterworks began and then I turned and noticed that the spot we were celebrating Mass had a plaque that was the 2nd Beatitude, “Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted”. That was definitely not a coincidence. One of our pilgrims found some plastic tubing on the ground that was strangely shaped as a cross. His wife was tragically killed 4 years ago and collected crosses. That was a powerful sign of God’s presence with him. There were many others who received consolations as well. It was a beautiful Mass. 

We then departed for Caesarea Philippi (which we didn’t visit during my 2007 pilgrimage) and George gave some fascinating background on this setting where Peter made his confession of faith. There is a cave that was part of a pagan temple and understanding right above the spot where this incident took place. It was a great visit because I understand a little more now about some of the references that were made, especially the gates of hell (or Hades) will not prevail. 

We left Caesarea Philippi and went to the Primacy of Peter where Jesus gives Peter the Keys to the Kingdom. Many pilgrims dipped their feet in the Sea of Galilee and collected a rock at the beach. 

We departed for Magda and saw the beautiful church the Legionnaires constructed. There were many side chapels and the neatest altar constructed in the shape of a boat. The photo is below. Downstairs there was a beautiful painting depicting the healing of the woman who suffered from hemorrhages and touched the tassel of Jesus’ cloak.

We then ended the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. The crew put up an American flag and played the National Anthem. I then led the pilgrims in “Pescador de Los Hombres” and then we returned to the motel. 

Here is the itinerary for our next leg of the pilgrimage: 

Following breakfast at our hotel, we depart the Sea of Galilee and make our way to the Mount of Transfiguration for Mass.
We continue through the ancient Herodian city of Caesarea Maritima before arriving in Jerusalem for overnight.

Here are some photos the pilgrims shared with me.

Goodbye Blogger Returning to WordPress

Dear Friends,

I have decided to return to WordPress as the Blogger website is a bit disappointing and is no longer sending out the Daily Thoughts as it used to do.

I am going to start blogging again. The past few months have been a bit challenging with my dad and his cancer diagnosis, but the Lord never fails to provide, especially in difficult times.

I will be heading over the mountains after the 10:30AM Mass and spending the Thanksgiving Day week with my family in Richland.

Have a blessed day!

in Christ,
Fr. Jim

How The Kingdom Of God Works

This is how the Kingdom of God is: a reality that is small on a human scale, made up of those who are poor in their hearts, those who do not rely on their own strength, but that of the love of God; it is made up of those who are not important in the world’s eyes. But it is precisely through such as these that Christ’s power shows forth and transforms what is apparently insignificant. Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Addresses Troubling Situation within the Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI delivered a great teaching yesterday on God’s constant “Yes” to us and how St. Paul discovered that in his life and ministry.

At the end of the address, he made an appeal to the faithful to pray for him in light of the betrayal of some people within the Vatican. Here is what he said.


The events of recent days involving the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness to my heart. However, I have never lost my firm certainty that, despite the weakness of man, despite difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and the Lord will ensure she never lacks the help she needs to support her on her journey.

Nonetheless there has been increasing conjecture, amplified by the communications media, which is entirely gratuitous, goes beyond the facts and presents a completely unrealistic image of the Holy See. Thus, I wish to reiterate my trust and encouragement to my closest collaborators and to all those people who every day, with faithfulness, and with a spirit of sacrifice and in silence, help me to carry out my ministry.

Great Youth Convention & Homily Posted

I spent Saturday at Bellevue Community College with around 1600 Catholic youth from all over our Archdiocese. It was really well done and we had a great time of prayer and Adoration in the morning. I helped out with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and they were giving out “passes” to the young people like the Fast Pass system at Disneyland telling them to go confession between certain time frames. How clever!

I have posted the homily from this past weekend.