Tag Archive for: Happiness

Safe, Protected, and Happy

One beautiful aspect of our human experience is that even the smallest moments can be invitations to reflect on our relationship with God. One such experience was finding our dog named “Friday.”

My wife found a dog walking along the side of the road, in danger of being run over. So, she pulled the car aside and called out for the dog, not knowing if he would listen and come to her. Surprisingly, he followed. This puppy with no chip, no collar, and after weeks of searching, no family, came to be ours by a simple request from my wife, “Come.”

I often think of what may have happened to our dog if my wife didn’t stop and invite him to escape the danger of the road. Maybe he would have been hit by a car, maybe attacked by another animal, homeless, or be put to sleep in a shelter. But now that he followed my wife, he is with us, at our home. He is safe, protected, and happy, and so are we.

You Are Loved

Even that little moment helped me reflect on God’s love. For God calls us, meets us where we are at, and calls us to greater love and communion. I think of my dog and compare myself to him. When I am lost, afraid, not knowing the next steps in life, I think of God meeting me, responding in love to my concerns, and asking me to trust Him completely. Then He simply invites me to follow. I could turn away, keep walking a dangerous path, or I can respond to God’s call and follow Him.

Trusting in the Lord can be difficult, for it requires us at times to abandon the path we are on, to face ridicule, to feel alone from the world. But in our Lord’s loving arms, we find true peace and joy. Nothing in the world can ever satisfy what our hearts desires most: to be united with our creator.

Every day, I’m grateful for God’s invitation to follow Him. As we continue this Lenten journey, I invite you to reflect on the moments in life that help you better understand God’s love.

Daniel Quintero is a newlywed husband, writer, and avid karaoke singer. He currently attends Prince of Peace Catholic Church where he volunteers in the lector ministry and with faith formation. His favorite motto: Awkwardness does not exist

Reaching Our Potential for Happiness

What we think we know is often less than the truth and can lead us to a wrong conclusion. In the Gospel of Luke (4:21-30), Jesus has just read from the Scriptures in the synagogue in Nazareth where he grew up. After reading he says,

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Messiah that the Jewish people had been praying for, for centuries is right now in their midst. “They all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” But then they said, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

In other words, they thought they knew who Jesus was and were confused that he should speak with such authority. So, Jesus tells them that their attitude is just like that of their forefathers who refused to accept the prophets who came to them. Jesus says it is for this reason that miracles were performed for foreigners instead of the Chosen People. Upon hearing this, the people became enraged at Jesus and intended to kill him, but he walked through their midst and went away. He could perform no miracles in his hometown of Nazareth because they had so little faith.

Is Conversion Necessary?

Recently the Church celebrated the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. Without the conversion, there would have been no St. Paul. Paul, who was previously Saul, was an educated Jewish religious leader and he thought he knew the will of God when he was persecuting Christians and trying to destroy the Church; but he was wrong. It wasn’t until he had an encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus that he was able to see clearly what God’s plan was for him and he spent the rest of his life totally surrendering to the will of God so that he could say,

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me” (Galatians 2:20).

So, what does the conversion of Paul have to do with the Gospel passage of Luke 4:21-30? If we look closely, we will see that all the followers of Christ went through a conversion. Conversion is necessary for us to recognize God’s plan for us. Speaking of those who had not experienced conversion Jesus said,

“…they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven” (Mark 4:12).

In other words, an unconverted heart diminishes our vision, it diminishes our hearing and it diminishes our understanding in regards to the things of God.

Accepting Change in Our Lives

We have all been baptized and we are children of God. In baptism, we received the gifts of faith, hope, and charity, as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In due time we received the sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation which are sources of the graces we need to be faithful Christians. However, there is no substitute for our personal conversion. At some point in our life, we must all say, Lord, I surrender to you. I want you to be the Lord of my life. Help me to be your faithful witness.

Throughout our lives, God gives us opportunities or encounters that are an invitation to accept change in our lives that will provide spiritual growth. For me, one that stands out is when someone asked me if Jesus was the Lord of my life. I had heard that phrase many times before, but at that moment I was given the grace to truly ponder the question and I realized that my faith had little influence on the decisions I had been making. Those few words caused me to make a deliberate choice to grow in my faith. I began to be open to spiritual things that I had not considered before, such as Bible study, prayer group, and retreat experiences. One thing led to another that has helped me become more aware of the presence of God and the help of his grace. God is patient for our salvation, but the sooner we make a deliberate decision to grow in our faith, the more likely it is that our faith will influence the decisions we make. We will have eyes that are able to perceive and ears that are able to listen and understand the guidance that comes from God, and we will be willing to make changes in our lives that will help us to grow spiritually.

What is the Desire in Your Heart?

On this subject of conversion, we have a quote from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in a document called Go Make Disciples:

“Conversion is the change of our lives that comes about through the power of the Holy Spirit. All who accept the Gospel undergo change as we continually put on the mind of Christ by rejecting sin and becoming more faithful disciples in His Church. Unless we undergo conversion, we have not truly accepted the Gospel.”

The good news is, conversion is primarily the work of God, all He needs is a docile heart. In baptism, we received the Holy Spirit who is the Agent of conversion and if we truly want to draw close to God, we ask the Holy Spirit to help us by way of our fervent prayer, by receiving the sacraments, and by reading the lives of the saints who make this journey with us.

What we think we know is often less than the truth, that’s why we must continually be formed in the truth. Jesus founded the Church, to teach us and guide us in the truth. What we do know without a doubt is that we must love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength and we must love our neighbor as ourselves. If there is anything in our lives more important than God, we have not yet experienced conversion and we fail to understand the depths of the love and mercy of Almighty God. We can only reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity by living in a faithful relationship with God. It is not complicated. Our Lord has had faithful followers in every age from one extreme to the other and everyone in between. We all have the capacity to be faithful disciples. It begins with a desire in our hearts and continues with the help of the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit, come!

Deacon Tom FoxK.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

A Path to Happiness and Peace

The universe and all of creation were created by God with a certain order that maintains harmony and peace. As God gave mankind dominion over his creation, he expected us to maintain the order he established.

In Sirach (3:2-6), we see one aspect of maintaining that order – we are to honor our Father and our Mother. This is such an important part of God’s plan that the promise is given:

“Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children, and, when he prays, is heard.

Being obedient to our parents helps us learn to be obedient to God. We read in Colossians (3:15), Paul gives us additional insights into what we must do to keep order.  He says,

“Let the peace of Christ control your hearts.”

In Christ, we will find the strength we need to maintain order in our relationships as husbands and wives, parents and children. There is a right way to fulfill our role, whatever it is. And, of course, the reality is, even if we try to faithfully do our part, it doesn’t mean that others will meet our expectations. I’m sure that there are many parents who take their relationships with God seriously, and even though they have made every effort to guide their children in the right way, some have rebelled. Peer pressure is very difficult to overcome. Perhaps it has never been so difficult to raise a child as at this time in history. That’s why it is so important for parents and godparents to follow through with the promises they made during the baptismal ceremony. Do you remember the words? “On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring him (her) up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives him (her) is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in his (her) heart.”

Providing children with a solid foundation will give them something to fall back on if they should happen to stray away from the faith for a time as they mature. The most important protection that a child can receive is to learn at the earliest possible moment that he or she is loved by their parents, and they are loved by God who has a plan for their happiness. For their part, they must be encouraged to think of God and pray every day. We know by reading the lives of the saints that some children, as early as four years of age, knew God had a plan for them.

The Gospel of Luke (2:49) has a line that strikes out to me when Jesus said,

“Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

We know that Jesus is everywhere, but out of love for us, he remains always in his Father’s house in the tabernacle. At times when we are experiencing trials, we may wonder where Jesus is. Of course, he is as close to us as his name on our lips, but because he knows our need for a tangible encounter he waits for us day, and night in the tabernacle in all the Catholic Churches throughout the world.

God’s Greatest Gift

The greatest gift God has given humanity is Jesus Christ, not only for our redemption but that we might also have an intimate, personal relationship with him through his Eucharistic presence during Mass as well as in the tabernacle. Jesus longs for us to spend time with him so that he can guide and strengthen us with his grace. During this Christmas season, think about consecrating your family to the Holy Family before the tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament chapel.

Our families are God’s plan for the future of the world. The family is intended to be the domestic Church where husband, wife, and children are joined together in prayer and grow together in faith. The family is where vocation should first be discovered.

Even if our family life has not been what it could have, it is not too late to begin anew. Whether you are married, divorced, or single, God has a plan for our happiness that can only be discovered in a relationship with him. People have persevered through the ages by:

  • Attending mass every weekend (during the week, if possible)
  • Praying daily (privately and with people we love)
  • Reading Scriptures
  • Frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation and forgiving each other for hurts experienced
  • Spending time before the Blessed Sacrament
  • Reading the lives of the saints
  • Continuing to be formed in the faith
  • Being generous with our time, talent, and treasure

This is the true path to happiness and peace.

God has a great plan for each of us if we allow Him to guide us by way of the Scriptures, the Church, the lives of the saints, and His wisdom. It has to begin first of all as a desire in our hearts and continues when we share this desire with others, especially those we love.

A simple prayer you can pray together… Jesus, Mary, and Joseph guide and protect us today. Amen.