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How to Achieve Peace

Do you experience peace on a regular basis? Or instead are you overwhelmed by what’s going on in your life? Does the busyness nullify your opportunity for any downtime, let alone peace of mind? Does the pace crowd out the peace? If you’re answer is “yes” to any or all of the above, be assured that you’re not alone.

For the longest time, I had no peace in my life. I was totally overwhelmed by life, trying to build a business, raise a family, coach our kids in their sports, stay in shape, do chores around the house, have a social life, etc. I prided myself in how much I got done, or thought I got done. What I wasn’t achieving was peace in my life. Likewise, I wasn’t experiencing joy, nor was I fulfilled in what I was doing.

Overtime, I’ve come to believe that there’s a distinct path to peace, which includes surrender, gratitude, humility, and love.

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

Surrender
Acknowledging that I don’t truly have control over anything in my life, coupled with God loving me unconditionally, making me uniquely with special gifts, and wanting me to be fulfilled, I now surrender all to Him.

Doing so means trying to abide by God’s will (He knows best for me) and doing my best, while leaving the results to Him. Knowing His love for me negates my need for validation from others. He and I are in this together and He has my back.

Gratitude
Be thankful. More than that, believe that everything happens for a reason, that there are no coincidences in life. It’s true. Everything is part of God’s grand plan. So live in a place of gratitude; be grateful for everything that happens, even the crises in your life.

Gratitude isn’t just good for the soul, it’s good for the body too. Experts are constantly talking about the benefits to living a life of gratitude, including being happier, healthier, more optimistic, more spiritual, a better friend, a better boss, and many other good outcomes. A true attitude of gratitude is one that allows us to see the hand of God in all things and trust that everything will turn out for the best.

Humility
To me, humility is the opposite of ego, which is our false self, the identity that we create that is often very far from the truth of who we are. The truly humble person lives from the truth of who he is, strengths and weaknesses.

A humble person is genuinely happy for others in their successes. He is accepting of others’ ideas and thoughts (accepting doesn’t mean always agreeing), always very willing to engage in dialogue. The humble person doesn’t always have to be right, be in control, or even win. Humility allows us to accept others for who they are, rather than judging them or trying to change them.

Being humble is understanding that it is only in God working through us that we can perform or achieve anything worthwhile. It is His doing, not ours.

Photo by Orlando Allo

Love
Above all else, we are called to love. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, second only to loving God with our whole heart, mind, strength, and soul. We need to love. When we fail to love, we leave those around us empty, and we are empty too.

Without relationships, life is meaningless. True relationship is impossible without love. To love, we need to be vulnerable; we need to trust; we need to care. Like Jesus, we need to love all.

Please share your comments, challenges, or concerns with me at [email protected]

May God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Your Work Does Not Prove Your Worth

Daily I receive an inspirational/educational email from Reverend Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California; also author of Purpose Driven Life and Purpose Driven Church…two great reads. One of the things I love about Rev. Rick’s emails is that they are ALL related to real life issues, things we face every day. Related, I believe that we as Catholics can learn much from our non-Catholic Christian Brothers and Sisters while maintaining our Catholic orthodoxy. Rev. Rick is a good example of that. You can get information at https://pastorrick.com


His January 16th email was titled, Your Work Does Not Prove Your Worth. It’s repeated below in its entirety…because it’s that good. And very consistent with my message. You can also find it here.


Photo by Vlada Karpovich

When you find yourself stuck in a cycle of overworking, you need to remember your value to God.

This is the exact opposite of basing your worth on your work, your career, or your full-time role. It is countercultural and may require a major change in your thinking, especially if a little voice in your head keeps saying, “You’ve got to prove you matter.”

One of the reasons people can’t relax is that they confuse their work and their worth. They confuse their net worth with their self-worth. They think, “If I work really hard and succeed at work, then I am valuable. If I’m not productive, then I’m not valuable.” That’s a lie! But in Western culture, our identity often revolves around our work, so we overwork in an attempt to prove ourselves. We believe that if we achieve a lot, then we must be worth a lot.

But your significance has nothing to do with your job, your career, or your achievements.

You don’t have to prove your worth. God says that you are already extremely valuable. You’ll never be more valuable to God than you are right now; you’ll never be less valuable to God than you are right now.

How valuable are you? Your heavenly Father created you; Jesus died for you. And if you are a follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in you.

God doesn’t create anything without purpose or intention. The fact that you’re alive means God loves you and wants you alive. You’re priceless. You’re a masterpiece.

It’s not what you do that gives you worth but who you belong to.

Did you know that God has a tattoo of you? Isaiah 49:15-16 says, “Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you. See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm”. 

Are you perfect? Absolutely not. Are you broken? Yes. Are you a sinner? Yes. But are you of infinite value? Yes! And you are deeply loved by God.

He already proved your worth on the cross.


Loved the above from Rev. Rick, which is why I’m posting it…very succinct. We all need to remind ourselves of these things. Hope this helped. 

As always, please email me at [email protected] with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests. 

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

How to Determine Your Purpose

I firmly believe that we are all made for greatness, with special gifts and talents, and a God given purpose. I point to Scripture as indication of such:

  • Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. And before you went forth from the womb, I sanctified you. And I made you a prophet to the nations.”
  • Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  • John 10:10 – I have come so that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.

To me, these verses clearly mean that we are made for greatness. God conceived of us thousands of years ago, making us in His image and likeness, as part of His grand plan, individually and as a part of all of humanity. God gifted each of us with very specific and unique talents, making all of us 10s on a scale of 1-10. Loving you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done, God wants the very best for you. He wants you to be happy and fulfilled. God made you (all of us) for GREATNESS!!!

The Process

So the question is…how do you determine where your greatness lies? Or stated another way, what is your purpose in life? I would suggest that the process for this is to be prayerful and methodical.

First, make a list of your talents, your skills, the things that God has gifted you with. Thinking about them and praying through them, jot down anything that comes to mind. It would be a good idea to group them into categories, again jotting any thoughts that come to you. Then, sit in silence, listening for God’s voice. Let Him speak into what you have on paper, taking note of anything He is communicating.

Next make a list of your desires. What are the things that you really enjoy doing? Often they are the things that you are very good at. What would you like to accomplish in the short-term? In the long-term? What mark do you want to leave on this world? Pray through the list, thinking about each word, expanding on each where appropriate. Then listen for God’s voice. What’s He telling you about your desires.

Finally, make a list of your needs. I’d suggest the categories would include:

  • Spiritual – what is your relationship with God? How can it improve? What do you want to do to enhance it?
  • Emotional – what is the health of your relationships, including with yourself. Do you have a positive self-image? Do you like yourself? Do you love yourself….humbly? Do you have a strong inner circle of friends, those who support you on your journey? What improvements do you need to make here?
  • Intellectual – how are you feeding your mind? Are you stimulated or stagnant? What changes do you need to make?
  • Physical – first there are the basics of food, clothing, and shelter. What are your necessities, given the life you are living…or are planning? After the basics, you can add some detail, including health (diet) and fitness.
  • Financial – what are your needs, i.e. kids in college, retirement, houses, cars

Making a list of all of these things, I’d again suggest taking them to prayer, writing down whatever comes to mind. Then, again sit in silence, listening for the Lord to speak into your life.

In addition to the above, I’d suggest discussing these things with others…advisors, mentors, those you can trust.

Lastly, look to signs in your life. God speaks to us through others. Examples could be:

  • Conversations you have
  • Books or verses you read, including Scripture
  • Song you hear
  • Something you see
  • Something you experience, including those things that bring you joy

God wired each of us in a very specific way, giving us unique talents, desires, and needs. He made us each for a unique, specific, and special purpose. Praying through where your talents, desires, and needs intersect will lead you to your purpose. What is yours?

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or challenges at [email protected].

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

God’s Gentle Whispers…the Joy of Christmas

I have a brother in Christ and very good friend, Pete Diulus, who I’ve known and served with in ministry for many years. Every year, Pete shares a Christmas message. Although all are very good, this year’s really spoke to me, so much so that I wanted to share it with you (with Pete’s permission). Here you go, in Pete’s words.  

God speaks to us in many ways. Often, we look for the big, flashy signs. The truth is that God more often speaks to the world in gentle whispers than he does in big events like fires, thunders, and earthquakes. I’d like to share with you the story of a place where “gentle whispers” spread the joy of Christmas every day of the year. 

If you’re a bit like me… you want the very best for your loved ones. Maybe even more than you want for yourself. We all want to find our place in the world, where we can connect meaningfully with others, share our unique gifts, and make a positive impact. Finding this place isn’t always obvious or easy. Just imagine… the person you love has worked hard to develop their skills, only to find that there is “no place for them” in the job market. 

Patrick, a dynamic and loving young man who lives with autism, wanted to find a “real” job. He enrolled in the local community college’s food service program, and working extremely hard, he excelled and graduated. 

Unfortunately, Patrick and his parents, Mike and Terri, discovered an ugly truth about the job market for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The unemployment rate for adults with IDD is ridiculously high. They found that employers seemed hesitant to hire a hardworking and motivated person like Patrick because the little extra help he would need might be disruptive to business. For years, the family prayed for a way to share the joy they experienced, both through Patrick and in serving others. 

Like Terri and Mike, my wife, Carol, and I have longed for a meaningful employment opportunity for our son, Jonathan, to share his unique gifts. Since he graduated high school ten years ago, Jonathan has worked in a variety of volunteer “gigs,” including sorting, packing, shredding, and assembling. Jonathan and I have also volunteered together, visiting peoples’ homes to offer Holy Communion. I saw the positive impact Jonathan was having on the folks we visited, just by being who he is and sharing his unique gifts. 

Unbeknownst to us, Mike and Terri’s prayers were answered by the patron saint of caregivers, Brother André Bessette. Brother André Bessette was a “gentle whisper” of a person. He was a frail and sickly child. He was poor, uneducated, and thought to be illiterate. Orphaned at 12, he struggled to hold down a job because of his poor health. When he was finally accepted into the Congregation of Holy Cross, a religious order that is best known as educators, the only job he was qualified for was “doorkeeper.” For the rest of his life, this was the only formal position he held. 

Brother André turned this position into something remarkable. With his kind, humble, loving, and prayerful ways, he sought to bring Jesus to everyone he met. So, as a doorkeeper, he welcomed the sick, lonely and the suffering with open arms. 

When Brother André passed away in January of 1937, over one million people braved the Montreal cold to pay their respects to the “Miracle Man of Montreal.” This “gentle whisper” of a person showed us how to humbly serve Jesus and each other in a kind and joyful way. 

Brother André’s story inspired Patrick, Mike, and Terri to open a coffee shop – Brother André’s Café – to be staffed by adults with IDD. The idea was born from the desire to make a positive difference in the lives of people who might otherwise struggle to find employment… and create connection with the community and the wider world. 

Mike and Terri shared the idea with Father Chris Donley, a Pittsburgh diocesan priest and cofounder of Move a Mountain Missions (MMM). Father Chris saw the project as a natural extension of MMM’s mission “to be Jesus for the most vulnerable all over the world” and invited Mike and Terri to launch Brother André’s Café as a part of Move A Mountain Missions. 

But opening a Café in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic simply wasn’t possible. Determined to find a way forward, the grand opening was postponed, and the team quietly launched Brother André’s Cafe online in November of 2020. The storefront opening at Epiphany Catholic Church followed in October 2021, and our son, Jonathan, was hired to work there. 

Every time that I drop off Jonathan for his scheduled shift, I’m impressed by this wonderful, hardworking group of people. The team at Brother André’s has turned a simple cup of coffee and homemade baked goods into a specialty experience. Father Chris refers to these 13 employees as “the Baker’s Dozen.” Each has created their specialty drink, has starred in Brother Andre’s ongoing video blog, and continues to cultivate their skills and new friendships. 

As we celebrated the official 1st Anniversary of Brother André’s Café this year, I paused to reflect on the remarkable series of “gentle whispers” that connected my family with Brother André’s. We’re a part of an extended family now… proud parents sharing challenges and triumphs as we watch our sons and daughters work together… seeing their passion and joy overflow into the world. 

We are profoundly grateful for that moment when Father Joe stopped us after Mass and asked, “have you heard of Brother André’s?” For us, this was a realization that truly, there are no coincidences…every person has a place and a calling. 

Brother André’s inspiration is ideal for the Café, whose employees and supporters are also like God’s “gentle whisper,” transforming the simplest thing into something remarkable. It is a continuous privilege to be associated with these amazing individuals and their families. 

I would urge you to stop by, have a cup of coffee and one of their incredible cookies, and “experience the joy” at Brother Andre’s Café. You will “witness the face of Jesus” in the smiles of “the Baker’s Dozen.” 

Mark here…I loved this story and wanted to share it with you. If you’d like more information on Brother Andre’s Café, want to look at a menu, or make a donation, please go to https://brotherandres.org.

As always, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] with comments, concerns, questions, or prayer requests. 

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph