Tag Archive for: Love

How to Avoid the Trap of Unforgiveness

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he said this he showed them his hands and his side.” (John 20:19-20)

Even though the doors were locked, Jesus stood in their midst because his resurrected, glorified body does not have the same limitations as our physical body. For this reason, he shows them his wounds, and in another Gospel (Luke) asks for something to eat to prove he is not a ghost.

He then breaths on them and says,

“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:22-23)

He gives the Apostles and their successors the authority to forgive sins. This is the basis for the sacrament of reconciliation in which Jesus himself forgives the sins of those who confess to Catholic priests who are successors to those who were in the upper room. It is fitting that we hear this Gospel on Divine Mercy Sunday because the Sacrament of Reconciliation is especially a sacrament of our Lord’s mercy. When we confess our sins to a priest, Jesus not only forgives our sins and relieves us of the burden we carry, He also gives us the grace we need to help us overcome temptation and grow in virtue. It is, for this reason, we should try to go to Confession at least once a month. If we only go to Confession a couple of times a year so many of the things, we do that offend God and others begin to pass unnoticed and become part of our life routine, and small sins that are habitual lead to more serious sins.

Forgiveness Through Jesus

Because of our fallen nature, it is so easy for us to fall into the trap of unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, and stubbornness that cause us to be negative people, and this negatively affects all of our relationships. If you have not been able to forgive someone, ask Jesus to help you forgive because you know he wants you to forgive, actually he commands you to forgive so he can, and relieve you of that burden of sin.

In 1934 Jesus revealed to St. Faustina that he wanted the second Sunday of Easter to be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. These are his words to her:

“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are opened all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.”

Even if we are not aware of having committed a serious sin, we still need this merciful encounter with Jesus in Confession so that we can remain close to him and grow spiritually.

In the Gospel of John (20:19-31), the Apostle Thomas was not with the others when Jesus appeared to them on Easter evening and he said he would not believe that Jesus was alive unless he would put his fingers in the nail marks and his hand in his side.

Our human logic is very powerful. Even though the disciples he trusted told him they had seen Jesus, he would not believe them without proof. For him, it wasn’t logical that someone would rise from the dead, even though Jesus said he would.

Walk Daily with Jesus

That’s the world we live in. We are at the point where just as many people do not believe in God as those who do believe, and that number continues to grow. Of course, that is the reason for so much hate, violence, and confusion in society. The only thing that can reverse this present trend is God’s love and mercy, which he freely offers, but does not impose upon us. In His Church, He has given us everything we need to live in peace and happiness, but we must approach Him in faith and humility. Jesus says,

“Come to me… and I will give you rest.”

The rest he offers us is the peace he promises to those who put their trust in Him, especially when experiencing trials.  Even the most hardened sinner can experience this peace if he would turn to Jesus in humility and ask for the grace to turn away from sin.

I am reminded of a woman I visited many years ago who was dying of cancer. She was in much pain and death was not far away, and yet she said she thanked God for cancer because it gave her a chance to turn back to God. She said if she would have died suddenly her soul may have been lost.

Salvation is not a casual thing, but God’s love and mercy are not only about saving our souls. It is first of all about a daily relationship with God that fills our lives with joy, hope, and guidance. He has shown us how this is possible in the Scriptures and in the Church. The solution has been revealed to us, but do we believe?

What we all believe right now is a consequence of the choices we have made up until this moment. Does our faith influence the most important decisions we make? Have we asked Jesus to be the Lord of our life and then pray for the grace we need to trust Him in every situation? If every day, throughout the day we pray from our hearts, “Jesus I trust in you,” it will become a reality. He will gently guide us if we are sincere, and our lives will be filled with hope and peace even as we undergo trials.

Jesus, I trust in you!


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.

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

The Unconditional Love of the Father

The Parable of the Lost Son found in the Gospel of Luke (15:11-32), is often referred to as the prodigal son because it seems to focus on the behavior of the younger son, but there is much more to reflect on here. Certainly, we see how the selfishness of the younger son drew him into deeper sin that eventually brought him to the point of despair. He set aside the love of his father and the security of his home to satisfy his attraction to pleasure and self-indulgence. He even asked for an inheritance that was not rightfully his until his father died. It is as if he was saying to his father, my inheritance is more important to me than you are.

It was not until he ran out of money that he was able to see the tragedy of his choice. When he began to starve, he remembered how good he had it before he left home. His repentance was not of the best of motives because his main reason for returning home was to satisfy his hunger. However, he did confess that he no longer deserved to be called his father’s son and was willing to be treated as a servant.

The most important person in this parable is the father. Even though he was treated with disrespect, he longed for his son to return. As the Gospel of Luke (15:20) states,

“While he (the younger son) was a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was moved with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.”

He restored his son to the position he had before he left. This is an image of our heavenly Father’s unconditional love for us. No matter what we have done he longs for us to return to him and renew our relationship with him. For this renewal to happen, like the younger son, we must have a contrite heart and return to God so that we can experience his unconditional love. He never stops loving us, but when removing ourselves from him through sin, we do not have a sense of his loving presence. We lose sight of the plan he has for us and become sad, even hopeless.

Meanwhile, when the older son hears the reason for the celebration, he becomes angry because his brother is welcomed back after such a shameful departure. His jealousy prevents him from sharing his father’s joy at the return of his brother. It seems he would rather his brother continue to suffer the consequences for his selfish behavior, which of course is selfish behavior also. His father tries to convince him of how much he is loved and wants him to share in the joy of his brother’s return.

Putting Yourself in the Parable

Which of the three characters in this parable can you identify with? How about the younger son? Have you ever made a selfish decision that hurt someone else deeply? If so, did you return to ask forgiveness? The best reason for reconciliation is not that we find ourselves desperate like the younger son, but because our conscience tells us it is the right thing to do. Unless we have allowed our heart to become hardened, we cannot be at peace with our self when we know we have been unjust.

Maybe we can relate to the older son who allowed his jealousy to blind him of the joy his father wanted him to share in. Jealousy does not allow us to recognize our own gifts and talents and prevents us from becoming what God wants us to be. Like selfishness, jealousy can cause us to be unhappy and hopeless.

The purpose of the parable is for us to recognize the unconditional love of the father. I personally have been able to relate to both the younger and the older sons at different times in my life. I have also been able to forgive myself and others and develop a desire to love God above all things and my neighbor as myself for the love of God. We all are on a journey and what we were yesterday and what we are today should not be the same as what we will be tomorrow.

How Can You Experience God’s, Unconditional Love?

Hopefully, this parable will convince us of the unconditional love of our heavenly Father, and what we can do to experience that love. It is especially in the sacrament of reconciliation that we experience the love and forgiveness of God. As the father waited for the return of his son, so does Jesus wait for us in the confessional. We confess our sins to Jesus through his priest and Jesus forgives our sins through his priest. When we hear the priest say, “I absolve you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” we can know we are forgiven by God, and just like the prodigal son, we are restored to our dignity as a child of God.


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.

Receiving Direction from Jesus, Our Constant Companion

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

That can be a tall order for this day and age.  Every day it seems we are bombarded with difficult situations, people, and news headlines that can make us feel agitated, anxious, confused, and maybe even a little angry.  Through it all though, there is one who can restore hope!  One who shows us a road map on how to be humble and gentle, patient and loving. One who will always help us live out the command given in this scripture, not just with mere words, but through action and example too.  One who constantly points us back to where we belong and will be our constant companion, if we let him.  His name is Jesus. Do you know Him?

Humility and Gentleness Throughout

Christ has taken time to love us in our sins and to teach us His ways.  He called the most unlikely of people to be leaders, to follow Him, and to help share His message. As he handpicked his 12 disciples, he taught each of them how to be gentle toward each other, bearing with one another in love, as they had to look past their own sin and the sin of their brother.  He taught us all about humility as he served lowly and downtrodden and never rebuked those who sought after him for healing.  He even showed his humility and gentle mercy as he prayed for us while he hung on the cross,

“Forgive them Father, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Love Over Fear

Often our struggle with Ephesians (4:2) is because of fear. How do we live up to such an expectation? Fear creeps in and we forget to call upon our savior for help. We often can find ourselves feeling alone or isolated because we just don’t feel good enough when we fail to hit all the points in this scripture and begin to move God out of our equation.  This inner isolation from God can leave an opening for the evil one to tempt us to take credit for our accomplishments, forgetting to give credit and thanksgiving to God, and creating patterns of thought and behavior that alienate us from humility, thus giving us the fear of inadequacy.  This cycle is sometimes described as the God-shaped hole problem that exists in our hearts, and we try to fill it with the things of this world. This can leave us even more empty, ashamed, and fearful. The disciples too, oftentimes felt anxious, confused, and needed to be constantly reminded by Jesus to not fear. I suspect this is a reason “Fear not” is in the Bible 365 times. Jesus knows we are not perfect and that we will fear, but fear should never stop us from doing what is right and trying our best to live out this command, even if it is just small acts of love, to begin with.

Being patient, bearing with one another, can sometimes be done in the smallest of ways, like just waiting a few extra moments before speaking while letting another person finish, or by taking a few moments to pray before forming an opinion about something you have heard or read. Sometimes it may be found in letting someone else have the last word even when we think they are wrong, or in being the first to forgive someone even when you feel you are in the right. It may be found in taking time to consider and pray about someone else’s point of view even when you disagree with them. It’s in these small moments that the spirit of God can whisper wisdom and calming hope in our hearts.

Can Christ Be Your Example for Daily Life?

Let us strive to hold Christ as our model and challenge each other to go forth, striving to be the best Pilgrims of Hope that we can be, by living out Ephesians (4:2) in the smallest of ways. Let us call upon our constant companion Christ for help in all areas, and let us follow His example on how to treat others through humility, gentleness, patience, and love… and if people say, “Jesus, do you know Him?” Our emphatic YES will not only be found in our words, but in our actions as well.


Mandi-bre Watson is a passionate follower of Jesus, a devoted wife, and a mother of 4. Through her writing and speaking, she tries to be a beacon of hope as she points people to the Savior. She owns a small marketing company that helps other small businesses and is also the owner of an online boutique, Veiled in Love, where she sells her handmade veils. She is a certified Spiritual Companion through Oblate School of Theology & an active member of St. Francis of Assisi Church. Mandi-bre is also the Emcee of the 2022 Catholic Women’s Conference and serves as a member of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Speaker Team.

 

 

 

A Medal from Heaven | Meet Mary

We especially thank Michele Maxwell (Marian Center of San Antonio) for sponsoring this episode of Meet Mary! Pilgrim Center of Hope is grateful for all our Missionary of Hope supporters who make possible everything we do.

Seeing As Jesus Sees

 

One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. See Nicene Creed. These are the Four Marks of our Church, the body of Christ. I need to ask myself if I truly believe that my Church has these four marks. If the answer is yes, then am I Catholic?

Let me explain. Catholic means universal. It means that the members of the body of Christ come from all races and ethnic groups, and are found everywhere. The Church, that is we, are open to all. Or are we? We know the Church is Catholic, but can a person be catholic? Am I catholic in the way I see others?

Viewing Others Through Filters

Children are born without filters. That is one reason Jesus loved to be around them, see the Gospel of Matthew (19:14). As we develop and mature, however, we acquire filters. By filters, I mean that we start looking at people through our own lenses of bias and prejudice, which come from our immediate families, our coworkers, communities (online and otherwise), nations, and our friends. What sort of filters? These can range anywhere from the color of people’s skin, their education, body type, gender, sexual orientation, possessions, occupations, mental or other disorders or disabilities, and the list goes on. In an examination of conscience, we have to ask ourselves if we are seeing others through our filters, or through the eyes of Jesus.

I carry these filters everywhere I go, and they apply to anything I sense. That means that they apply to everything I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. Here’s a good test: when I look around during Mass, do I see souls, or do I see people different from me? If people are different from me, am I accepting and open to them, or am I judging them in accordance with my filters? Am I applying my own, unique standards and measurements to them?

It is a part of human nature to size people up as soon as I hear or see them. Haven’t you ever heard a person on the phone and immediately imagined what they look like? Then, when you actually meet or see them, their actual appearance is much different from what you had imagined. It’s the same with souls. Our outer appearances and conduct may hold SOME clues to what our souls really are like, but the real truth may be far from our guesses. Think of people you have encountered whose hidden stories have caused you to feel compassion and understanding, now that you know what they went through? That is why only God can judge another person. Only He knows what sort of childhood or other experiences that person has gone through, and what sorts of inner struggles and obstacles that person has had to overcome. It’s possible that at the very moment a person needs a boost up the mountain of life, our filters cause us to show them an attitude, or look, or to speak a word, that can throw them back down, perhaps never to get up again.

What Did Jesus Do?

When Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners, he was reaching out with God’s love to all children of God. He even tried to reach the Pharisees and Sadducees, in spite of their open hostility towards him. If Jesus had had filters in operation, the extent of his reach would have been limited or curtailed. Therefore, the reach of his love and mercy would have been limited.

Encouragement for Your Journey

It is difficult for any of us to identify, overcome and deconstruct the many filters within us. If you find yourself wincing, frowning, or in any way negatively reacting to a person, you must ask yourself why you are doing so. If you look at a person and you already know the kind of person they are, this might give you an idea of the kind of filter you are using.

We can look to the lives of the Saints, each of whom had their own filters in place that they had to locate and eliminate in order to progress on their spiritual journey. The more they conquered their negative filters, the more aligned they became with Jesus. And after all, isn’t that our ultimate goal?

So when the next time we’re at church, work, the grocery store, a concert, movie, party, or seminar, ask yourself whether you are looking at others the way Jesus would look at that person. Then we can imitate our Lord in opening our hearts to that person, so that Jesus’ love, kindness, and mercy can flow from Jesus, through you, to the person Jesus loves as much as he loves you.


Victor Negrón is a husband, father, grandfather, practicing lawyer, former judge, past-President of the San Antonio Catholic Lawyers Guild, lay evangelist, Board Member of Pilgrim Center of Hope and A Woman’s Haven. Judge Negrón became Board Certified in Family Law in 1987. As a lay evangelist, Victor has served as a leader for Eucharistic Adoration of San Antonio, Inc., and has been involved with Pilgrim Center of Hope’s evangelizing activities since its early years – formerly as emcee for the Catholic Men’s Conference, and currently as a member of the PCH Board of Directors.

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.

The Ultimate Representation of Jesus’ Love | Meet Mary

We especially thank Michele Maxwell (Marian Center of San Antonio) for sponsoring this episode of Meet Mary! Pilgrim Center of Hope is grateful for all our Missionary of Hope supporters who make possible everything we do.

The Abundant Joy of God’s Love

“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. …With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” – Pope Francis (Joy of the Gospel)

The joy of knowing God is profound and can exist in the midst of difficulties. Do people know this?

In fact, this should be essential to the Christian. Even beyond enjoying a good meal with friends or a good vacation, the happiness of Christ, the source of true peace and justice, is the gift He offers to his followers. St. Paul urges the first Christians of Philippi, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!” He goes on to give the basic reason for this profound happiness: “The Lord is at hand.”

St. Josemaria Escriva expands on this passage:

“What St. Paul says here is particularly impressive if one bears in mind that he is writing his letter from prison. In order to have joy it does not matter if we are living in difficult conditions. For a Christian, joy is a treasure. Only by offending God do we lose it, because it is the fruit of selfishness, and selfishness is the root of sadness.” (Christ Is Passing By, 178)

I have met many people that have made some serious, big mistakes in their lives, and when they encountered Jesus – when they realized Jesus knew them and loved them – it was the beginning of a change in their lives!

I believe the reason many people, especially women, enter the new age religion and the occult or pagan religions is because they are searching for answers, for peace, for love. Many are led into a dark pit that keeps them there unless they encounter someone that will lead them to know the true peace they are yearning for – in Christ!

As Christians, as followers of Jesus, we must try to be aware of those searching for true peace and joy. And we too must ask the Holy Spirit to ignite within our souls the fire of God’s love. Do this, and you will experience the abundant joy of His love!


Mary Jane Fox, D.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with her husband, Deacon Tom 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. Mary Jane is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Dame 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.

Jerusalem – Mount Calvary and Our Lady of Sorrows

Join Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox as they spiritually travel to Calvary in Jerusalem. This is the very site where Jesus, the Son of God was crucified and where he died.

During our journey, we will hear about Calvary and discuss:

  • What does it look like today and how do we know this is THE place?
  • Why is Mary, the Mother of Jesus called Our Lady of Sorrows? After all, she is in Heaven!
  • How is it that calling on Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows helps us in our daily lives?
  • Much more!

Listen to this program now:


Jewel for the Journey:

“Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent.” – St. John of the Cross


A Closer Look at Mount Calvary:


Where is Mount Calvary?

How can my relationship with God impact all my relationships? Tune-in to our new Feminine Faith edition of Catholicism Live! Every Tuesday at 11 in the morning Central time. Helping you keep your faith alive!

Finding Joy in Relationships

Mary Jane Fox, Angela Sealana, and Julie Reyna look at relationships & Valentine’s Day from a Catholic point of view, give couples 4 steps for praying together, and have a Heart-to-Heart discussion: “How can my relationship with God impact all my relationships?” Plus, we’ll introduce you to a married couple on the road to sainthood, AND give you a Spa Moment for your Soul!