Tag Archive for: suffering

Finding Joy in the Suffering

We made it to the Joy of Easter! How did we get here so fast? Before I jump into my victory cheer, singing Alleluia at the top of my lungs, I want to go back to what we just experienced in the last 40 days and dig deeper into one of my favorite scriptures found in Nehemiah (8:10),

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

That scripture promise can be particularly comforting during trials and tribulations.

Where Does Joy Come From?

Lent can be hard. Sacrifices are made, we pray, we fast, we give, and we wait. We are willing to go through the hard stuff because as Christians we know how the story ends, we know that the hope and joy of Easter is on it’s way, and we also know that joy can be found in the midst of our suffering too, so we embrace it all… or do we?

One time when I had a particularly hard Lent and was having a difficult time finding joy in life, I asked the Lord to reveal to me where joy comes from, and what it looks like, and how His joy can be my strength. I was eager not only to find it and feel it for myself again, but to also see it tangibly. It had been a while since I was joyful, and I wasn’t even sure I would recognize it if it showed up.

It was during Holy Week where, with eyes wide open, I looked for it. I knew joy would come on Easter Morning as it always did, but was there joy in the midst of the sorrowful week that preceded it? I had always looked at Holy Week as a week full of sorrow. The sadness of the last supper with friends where he knew, even as he broke bread, he was being deceived by someone he loved; or during the time in the garden where he felt the human feelings of fear of what was to come. Then when he was mocked, flogged, hungry and in pain and when he walked up to cavalry carrying the heavy cross and the sins of the world on his back, and then horrifically nailed to the cross and hoisted up for all to see. Even though I know he was dying for our sins, it still looked a whole lot like suffering to me, where was the joy in all this? I needed to know, can there be pure joy in the midst of the suffering too?

Joy Revealed

As I sat in church that Holy Week, I felt the Lord reveal the joy that I was asking to see in tangible ways as I listened and reflected on the readings and the stations of the cross. There were three things that particularly caught my attention where joy was found in the suffering and where the joy of the Lord became others’ strength that I had not seen before:

  • The first, at the Last Supper. Jesus gave his joy as he sat with his friends; teaching, ministering, eating, rejoicing, and reminiscing. He showed what it was to have a servant’s heart, and what it meant to be truly present. That night was about sharing joy in how much he loved and how he showed love to his friends. This would become their strength for the days that followed.
  • The second, on Jesus’ way up to Calvary. We hear the traditional story of Saint Veronica, moved with compassion and sorrow as she saw Jesus, tired, in pain and sweaty, dragging his cross up the hillside. With a servant’s heart, she removes her veil for Jesus to wipe his face. As she receives it back, she now has the face of Christ miraculously emblazoned on the cloth. His joy of being helped even in the simplest of ways was now a tangible example of the joy that comes from being loved and cared for. By Veronica sharing this good news with others, it becomes all of our joy and strength.
  • And lastly, the dialogue between Jesus and one of the thieves who was crucified next to him. Scripture tells us the good thief begins rebuking the other thief who was antagonizing Jesus in Luke (23:40-43),

“Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Can you imagine the joy and strength that must have given the good thief? Knowing that God’s mercy, even after all he had done, was enough? The joy he must have felt knowing that because of his heartfelt repentance, after he takes his last breath he will be with Jesus in paradise! I imagine that strength must have gotten him through the final hours of his physical suffering on the cross.

Joy and Strength Through The Sacraments

These scripture stories also helped me to see that God was revealing to me other tangible ways to feel and receive the Joy of the Lord, through our beautiful Church sacraments and being of service to others. Every week when I go to church and receive the Body of Christ, I am filled with the Joy of the Lord, as Christ meets me with love in the form of bread. His holy presence within me gives me strength.  Through the sacrament of confession, when like the good thief, I make a sincere confession, the joy that fills me knowing His mercy and grace has just been poured over me. It is the strength I need to do better, try harder and walk in peace. Also, to be in service to others brings the Joy of the Lord down to earth.  When you put Jesus first, then others and then you… you are living out His Joy! How blessed are we to have so many great examples and sacraments that express that the Joy of the Lord is truly our strength!

So, can there be pure joy in the midst of the suffering too? Yes! How great is our God!!! Let us celebrate this Easter season with joy- Alleluia, Alleluia- Holy is His name!

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 Call To Action – A Call To Prayer

I’ll pray for you.

How many times have we typed that on a Facebook post where someone is asking for prayers for a difficult situation?

Thoughts and prayers

How often do we hear this after a tragedy occurs in our country? Almost too much, to the point that it is often ridiculed as separate than action. We don’t need your prayers; we need something done!

But prayer is a form of action, it is a beautiful form of charitable action that unites ourselves to our creator on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

St. John Damascene states that prayer is the

“raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2559)

When we pray, we are actively involving ourselves in being open to petition to God, to hear His voice, to listen in peaceful presence to His command for our lives. When we offer the intentions of others who have asked us to pray for them, we are making a committed effort to unite that person’s intentions with our own intentions, coming together as a Body of Christ.

One way to think of prayer is to understand the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy is generally defined as the showing of pity or sorrow for another person. Poor you, we might say to someone. Empathy is regarded as being intimately connected with the sufferings of another, to try to be in their shoes and see things from their perspective in order to fully realize their struggles.

To connect these terms to prayer, imagine sympathy as seeing another person struggling and feeling sad for them, and that’s it. Now imagine seeing someone struggling, and putting their struggles into your mind, reflecting on them, understanding the pain it is causing, The Catechism also states that

“Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays.” (CCC, no. 2562)

Thus, when we pray for another, we are using our whole being to act on that person’s behalf, to state that their petitions are our petitions. Thus, we are expressing full empathy when we pray for someone else.

Of course, we can also fall into the habit of saying “I’ll pray for you,” as an easy way to get out of an uncomfortable situation, and then not pray. I know I’ve done this too many times. It is at that point that our words will ring hollow. To prevent that, here are some habits I’ve developed:

  • Invite someone to pray then and there at the moment they ask for prayers.
  • Talk to the person about their situation, listen attentively, offer prayers and an open ear.
  • If you pray for that person later in the day, imagine seeing their face, reflecting on their presence. For example, instead of saying “I pray for John Smith,” I instead imagine what John Smith looks like, and pause on his face, then I ask for prayers. This has helped me slow down in my prayers and reflect more on the person.
  • Act. Prayer and action go together since both are forms of charity. Action is living out your prayers.

We pray, we act, and we 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. 

Joy… with a Pierced Heart? | Meet Mary

The Compassion of Jesus

Come on a journey with Mary Jane Fox to discover the tenderness and compassion of Jesus. Coming to know about the tenderness of Jesus can make a difference in our lives. We learn about the compassion of Jesus, as Mary Jane reflects on The Raising of Lazarus from the Gospel of John. She also shares an example of how she began to learn to see others with the compassionate eyes of Jesus.

Listen to this program now:

Jewel for the Journey

“Let us remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm, and look forward to the future with confidence.” – St. Pope John Paul II

Divine Mercy: Where Hope And Healing Are Found

On June 7, 1997, on a visit to the Shrine of Divine Mercy, in Krakow, Poland, St. John Paul II shared these thoughts on the Divine Mercy: 

Those who sincerely say ‘Jesus, I trust in You’ will find comfort in all their anxieties and fears. 

There is nothing more man needs than Divine Mercy – that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God.” 

To him, these were not just words or a nice sentiment to share with those in attendance. He is the epitome of living a life filled with Divine Mercy. Before the age the 21, he had experienced the loss of his siblings and both parents. His brother passed away after treating a patient with scarlet fever, which was at an epidemic level at the time. On May 13, 1981, Mehmet Ali Agca attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square. Praise God, he survived the attempt. In 1983, he visited Agca and conveyed his forgiveness to him. It was an earthly display of the merciful heart of Jesus. Pope John Paull II lived a life soaked in Divine Mercy. It was no coincidence that he passed away on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, 2005. 

We often go through life, defining ourselves by our worst sin. This can continually keep us down. God loves us with his divine mercy. Every part of us that feels condemned, our Heavenly Father wants to turn into a fountain of life.  

Hope and Healing

In times where I feel fearful or uncertain, the simple prayer of Jesus, I trust in you brings me peace. This is a peace that can only be provided by invoking the holy name of Jesus and placing my complete trust in him. In my 40 years of life, I have experienced a sudden loss of a loved one, a foot amputation, endured End Stage Renal Failure, dialysis, and blessed with a Kidney Transplant from a Living DonorThrough these moments, I felt pain, sadness, anxiety, fear of my own death, as well as a feeling of blessed beyond my worthiness. In each of these moments, Jesus, I trust in you helped me rise above and proceed without fear. It has never failed me.  

I will share one of these moments with you. The morning of my Kidney Transplant, I was asked to check-in at the hospital at 9:00am. It was midday when they called me to the back area to be prepped for surgery. For one reason or another, I was in the Pre-Op area for a longer period of time than expectedI was there long enough for several family members and friends to visit and pray with me. Then the moment arrived, the nurse informed my wife and I, it was time. As I said goodbye to my wife, I glanced at the clock as the nurse wheeled me towards the operating room, it was 3:00pm. I thought to myself, Jesus, I trust in you. As the anesthesiologist began to administer the cocktail of medication into my veins, I thought to myself, Jesus, I trust in you. Thanks be to God; the transplant was a success! I learned later, that when my wife walked back to the waiting area, my parents and friends were already praying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy for my intention.    

It has now been 15 months since my transplant. Looking back through the physical suffering and uncertainty, I am thanking for it. These experiences have brought me closer to God and to love him with all that I have. I recall the words St. Faustina wrote in her Diary (entry 57)

Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering love becomes crystallized; the greater the suffering the purer the love.

Call To Action

God is calling you to be an ambassador of mercy. I invite you to open your heart to the person you resist the most with open hands of faith and mercy.

Why you may ask?

God wants more for you.

How could I do this, you may ask? Try this simple pray before you do so:

Lord, help me receive your mercy, so I can bring it to the world. Amen

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Jason Nunez is the Media Production Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since November of 2020.

ENCORE: Gethsemane & The Agony in the Garden

Travel along with Mary Jane Fox & Ed Batis to the foot of the Mount of Olives and discover the Garden of Gethsemane. Such a place still exists, the place where Jesus, Son of God spent time.

This program will address these four points:

  • The significance of the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Why was this a place of rest for Jesus and His Apostles?
  • What does it mean to watch and pray?
  • How can we draw strength from our Lord’s suffering?

Jewel for the Journey:
The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is his will. – Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton


Live – Wed., March 24 @ 8:00 PM

  • Guadalupe Radio Network (South/Central Texas Stations)

… Listen to the archived audio recording on our website, ASAP!

Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org for more information.

A Closer Look at Gethsemane:

Where is Gethsemane?

Where is

Hope for Family In Pandemic | Journey with Jesus

Find Healing: What’s Stopping You? | Journey with Jesus

Finding God in the Chaos

Need help finding God in the midst of a busy schedule or chaotic life? We have some great tips for you.

Angela Sealana, Julie Reyna, and Jessica Rendon dive into…

  • New year’s resolutions: Catholic style
  • Spiritual tips
  • A heart-to-heart conversation with special guest Professor Kathe Lehman-Meyer
  • An inspiring saint.

***Video begins at 1 minute and 55 seconds.

Have Hope: God Is Present!

In his Gospel account, Luke explains to us the reason why he has undertaken the task of writing his own account of the Good News of Jesus Christ: so that we all may realize the certainty of the teachings we have received (Luke 1:1-4). Luke’s Gospel gives us insight into how we may understand Jesus’ presence in our own lives.

Awareness of Jesus’ Presence

Luke speaks to us about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and return to Nazareth, where he grew up (4:14-21). In the synagogue where everyone knows him, Jesus reads to them from the Prophet Isaiah. After he reads, he sits down, and everyone is looking at him.  He then says: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus tells them that his mission is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus is the one for whom the chosen people have been waiting; he is the Good News.

The best thing that can happen for the people… has just happened! The kingdom of God is made present to them, because Jesus the Word of God is in their midst.

Luke continues: “…all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” They also asked, Isn’t this the son of Joseph? They wonder how this man who has been their neighbor since childhood, can claim to be the Messiah without the proof of miracles?!

As we know from other Gospel accounts, even when Jesus does perform miracles and speaks with unheard authority, few put faith in him. He is the Good News for all time, and yet is often met by rejection.

Why Rejection?

Evidence of Jesus Christ is mentioned in historical writings outside of the Scriptural accounts of his life, death, and resurrection. Yet, two thousand years after his death, the number of people who reject him is growing faster than the population.

We live in the age of relativism, where individuals want to decide what is important for them personally, without regard to any authority or how one’s own beliefs affect others. Primary contributors to this situation are consumerism and materialism, because they can underscore a capacity to isolate ourselves from others and live for our self. This situation leads to loneliness (and sadness), because it is contrary to our human needs and purpose.

God’s Presence In Our Despair

However, no matter how far we drift from God, there is always the possibility of discovering his presence if we choose to have the humility to turn to God in our time of need. He can manifest his presence even when all seems lost.

In 1941 during WWII, Maximillian Kolbe was arrested by the Nazis for hiding Jews from them. He was treated with hatred in the prison camp. One day, after a prisoner attempted an escape, 10 men were selected to die of starvation as an example to the others. One of the men begged for his life on behalf of his wife and small children. Maximillian Kolbe offered his life in the man’s place. The 10 men were forced into a small box-like building, where there was only room enough to stand. Instead of the usual cursing that was heard when men were waiting to die, hymns and prayers were heard coming from the box. This caused an unusual peace to settle over the death camp, and gave hope to the other prisoners. In that terrible place, the kingdom of God was at hand for those who believed.

Often, when we are going through a trial or great difficulty, our temptation is to focus on our dilemma, and in our imagination, it becomes bigger than reality and overwhelms us. If, on the other hand, we would turn to Jesus and ask him for his help, we can be assured that he will give us the grace we need in that moment.

  • It may be the grace to see things as they truly are.
  • It may be the grace of humility to ask the right people for help.
  • It may be the grace to surrender your life to God and to put your total trust in him.

Read what he says to us in the Scriptures and be confident in his providential love and mercy. Here is one of God’s promises:

Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

We are never alone; we always have our guardian angel with us. Whenever we turn to our Lord in prayer from our heart, we can be sure that the kingdom of God is at hand.

Concern for People In Our Lives

We all have people we are concerned about, and we should never give up praying for them. Sometimes, it is the prayers of a loved one that finally helps God’s grace to break into our lives—as in the case of Saint Augustine. Amid his life of wild partying, promiscuity, and other poor decisions, his mother’s constant prayers were answered by his powerful conversion. Then, he realized that God’s presence and love was always there.

You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness…
(Excerpt from Augustine’s autobiographical Confessions)

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.