Weekly Blog

What’s Your Lenten Plan? 

How do you spend Lent? What are the things you do or don’t do, that are different from other times of the year? Why do you do such things? What impact do they have? Could this Lent be different…maybe better? 

Lent comes every year, beginning on Ash Wednesday (which is today) and lasting 40 days to Holy Thursday. For many people, including Catholics, Lent is ignored. For others, I think Lent is about the 1-2 things they give up. It was for me for years, to varying degrees of success. Back then, I don’t know that I fully got it, the meaning of Lent. 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Lent is a time during which “the Church unites herself to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.” As per the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), it’s a season of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting, in preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. The USCCB goes on to say we are called to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully. 

Given my journey and believe me I don’t have it all figured out, the primary thing is improving in what we’re already doing. Take prayer…how do I do it more and do it better? Like everything I’ll share here, what is the next thing you can be doing to enhance your spiritual life? If you spend no time in prayer each day, try 5 minutes. If you spend 10 minutes, how about 15? You get the point. Pick the stretch goal for you and do it daily. 

You could choose additional ways to pray or extend the time you do each form of prayer. Examples are rote prayer, reading Scripture, quiet time with our Lord. Should you desire, I have plenty of prayer resources I can pass along to you. 

I’ve fasted periodically, really beginning to do it more this past year. Fasting means different things to different people and health issues can impact what you do. I just heard an incredibly inspiring talk on fasting, where the book, Fasting, was suggested…here’s a link. Do an internet search to find additional information. Again, how can you take what you’ve been doing, no matter how much or little, to the next level? That’s my goal this lent. 

Almsgiving is the giving of one’s time, money, and possessions to those who are less fortunate. Again, what have you done in the past that you can enhance this Lent? 


I’d like to close by referring to the USCCB from above, where it says related to Lent, “we are called to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully”. 

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving…all of these spiritual practices are designed to lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus, making us more holy, and providing us with the only path to peace, joy, and fulfillment. 

Some quotes to ponder as we enter this Lenten season: 

  • “God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy” – Pope Francis
  • “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring” – St.
  • “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may go to heaven” – St. Rose of Lima
  • “Unless there is Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday” – Blessed Fulton J. Sheen

As always, please email me at 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

Weekly Blog

Losing Those Close To Us

Today is three years since my Dad died, and I miss him dearly. With the exception of my wife, there’s probably no one I talked to more frequently. He was always there, my biggest fan and advocate. I wrote about him on October 23rd, 2019. 

My Dad didn’t die suddenly, but was failing over a period of time. The same was true for my father-in-law and most of the people I’ve lost in my life. Now 59 myself, the list is extensive, including all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others…most where it wasn’t a surprise by the time they reached the end. I have a cousin, Eric who died almost 30 years ago at the age of 30, from Hodgkin disease. With him beginning his cancer journey at age 9, it wasn’t a surprise, although very sad and felt different given how young he was. 

My father and mother

Jim Sweeney, acclaimed offensive lineman at Pitt, followed by the New York Jets and the Steelers, just suddenly died at age 60. I had the privilege of knowing Jim, playing high school football with him and reconnecting when in our early 40s. With all his success, you’d never meet a more humble person than Jim. What a great guy, who will be missed by many. 

Jim was a shock. The deaths of the others, as indicated, were expected. Brian, a friend who I’ve known for almost 30 years, is in a different category for me. Still with us while fighting a cancer that has progressed significantly, it’s tough to watch. Maybe it’s different because Brian is 10 years younger than me. Or because I’m of the age where my own mortality is more relevant. Or knowing the age of his kids, sensing what this is doing to his family. 

I say “watch” above figuratively because I’ve not seen Brian often (couple times) since his diagnosis. I feel badly in not being more present to him. We talk and text periodically. I pray for him and his family often. None of it seems like enough.

Where am I going with this?

What’s my point? I think it’s three things…love, gratitude, and reflection. Taking the last first, I think we can learn a lot in reflecting on the lives of others. What are the lessons for us? Their impact on our lives? The things they may have done differently. We can also reflect on how we interacted with them…the things we would change for the future with others. 

Born out of that reflection should be gratitude…for their lives, our relationships, and the lessons learned. When talking about death and suffering, it’s sometimes difficult to have an “attitude of gratitude”, understanding as I often say, “everything happens for a reason, according to God’s grand plan”. Believing that God doesn’t create these things, it’s my lived experience that He allows them to bring a greater good, have us grow closer to Him, and internalize His unconditional love. 

Lastly is love, which arguably always comes first. Above all else as Jesus tells us in the Great Commandments, we’re called to love…love God and love our neighbors. While still on this earth, we need to love them, love them, love them, which can take many forms. That love can’t wait till they’re gone. We need to act. I need to act, not letting the busyness of life get in the way, not being distracted by the unimportant. 

Here’s my encouragement to all of us. Life is precious. Life is short. Let’s love each other, including those sick, suffering, or in need. Let’s be grateful for the lives of others, and our relationship with them. Let’s continue to learn all that we can from those who go before us, so we can live the lives God calls us to. 

As always, please email me with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests at  

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

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

Why You Beat Yourself Up

Last week, we talked about conditional love. My lived experience is that it creates in us a lack of self-love. In believing that we only receive love if we perform well and to the satisfaction of others, we don’t love or believe in ourselves when we don’t perform well. Not loving self then creates fear (next week’s subject), which prevents us from trying and doing things, using our God given talents, meeting our full potential.  

We believe that we have to perform well to be loved. Stated another way, we fear that if we don’t perform well, we won’t be loved. And at a fundamental level, we all want to be loved; we all want to be accepted. 

Related to lack of self-love, consider this – you do really well at something, then hearing ten compliments and one criticism. What is it you remember and concentrate on long after the occurrence? If you’re like most, it’s the criticism. You see flaws in yourself that you don’t see in others. We judge ourselves much more harshly than others. All of this is a result of lack of self-love, born of conditional love. 

Same Was True for Me

My lack of self-love resulted in me beating myself up on a regular basis. From the outside, I was this confident guy, who had it all together…nice family, good business, nice things, but I was crumbling inside. It was real….I had no peace or joy in my life. I was on that hamster wheel, exhausted, deflated, and frustrated. I was overwhelmed. 

We can beat ourselves up over past sins and past decisions, big or small. Both have been an issue for me. Taking the latter as an example, I remember making a business decision with significant financial impact. It turned out to be the wrong decision, with a dramatic negative result. I carried that burden with me for an incredibly long time, beating the “crap” out of myself regularly, i.e., daily, hourly. I couldn’t let it go. According to my therapist, referenced again below, it was stealing the energy from me to live a happy and fulfilled life. 

It Happens to All of Us

When writing my book, I wanted to vet the concepts. As such, I reached out to the Christian therapist who helped me so much on my journey….more on that later in this blog series. I said to her something like, “70-75% of people suffer from lack of self-love…right?” She scoffed at me, laughing. I’ll never forget it. I said, “what do you mean?” She then said, “try 95%+”. She then explained that based on her experience and research, that lack of self-love easily afflicts more than 95% of us”. Wow!!!

Here’s the Truth of the Situation 

Those closest to you, who truly love you, family and friends, could care less how you perform. They’re going to love you anyhow. And God loves you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done. He sent His only begotten Son to die on the Cross for your sins, dare I say your faults and failings. 

Life is messy, as we’ve discussed in this series so far. The mess is going to continue as we further unpack things over the next several weeks…before we get to the good stuff…the path to peace, joy, and fulfillment. Stay tuned. 

As always, please feel free to contact me at with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

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

God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

COVID and Church Doctrine

The only thing that may be more divisive in our country today than politics is the COVID vaccine. Many disagree on the issue, including me and who I refer to as my creative genius, Mary Kate, who manages Mark Joseph Ministries’ communications. Although not the point of this blog, we can disagree without being disagreeable. It is possible and I would argue a good thing. In doing so, our country would be a better place and we would have more peace in our lives.   

Related to the title of this blog, some background is required. In addition to those I’ve heard about in the news, I now personally know two people who face termination from their employment if they’re not vaccinated. One works 100% remotely, which would seem to pose no risk to a safe work environment. Both Catholic, they’ve looked to their faith, our Church, for support in the form of a religious exemption, which is stated as being valid by the organizations forcing vaccinations. 

In doing an internet search, there are at least 10 Bishops who have issued instructions to their clergy, mandating they not assist the faithful in any efforts to claim religious exemption. Add to that many Bishops mandating vaccination for all Diocesan employees. Interesting view by Church leadership, as you’ll see below. 

You may have been vaccinated. I fully support whatever decision you make for yourself on this issue, given your free will and conscience (the point of this blog), which was given to you by God. That said, points that might contribute to people’s hesitation are worth considering, whether you agree with them or not: 

  • Vaccines typically take 8-10 years to develop, test, and be approved by the FDA. The 3 COVID vaccines on the market began being used on a wide basis in less than a year, with FDA approval granted months after initial use. 
  • Messenger RNA, the key component in 2 of 3 of the vaccines, has never been put into the human body before. 
  • There are numerous examples of severe side effects from the vaccine, namely blood clots and associated disorders, inflammation of the heart, including in teenagers, life threatening allergic reactions, Bell’s Palsy, miscarriages, and premature births. 
  • Given the short timeframe of the trials, less than a year vs. 8-10 as stated above, we have no idea what the long-term impacts are of these vaccines. 
  • The swine flu vaccine was stopped in 1976 by the US Government when fatalities from the shot hit 53. The government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) indicates there have been 6,128 deaths in the US due to the COVID vaccines. The number is double that worldwide. 
  • There are treatments (not vaccines) that have been proven to be effective in curing patients of COVID, specifically hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and monoclonal antibody therapy, along with Vitamins C, D, and zinc. 
  • It’s widely known that those who risk severe sickness or death are the elderly and those with comorbidities. We also know that our youth rarely get COVID and if they do their symptoms are mild unless they have comorbidities. So, what is the rationale for 100% vaccination? 
  • When COVID broke, the issues were deaths, ventilators, and hospital beds, none of which have spiked with the uptick in cases and the delta variant.
  • The government’s (and big tech and big business and others) insistence on all people being vaccinated negates whether they’ve had COVID, therefore having the antibodies which are recognized as being better protection than the vaccine. They’re being forced to be vaccinated anyhow.
  • On May 1st, the CDC decided to stop tracking break through cases (already vaccinated), but instead only cases from the fully vaccinated that result in hospitalization or death, leaving health officials without full data. 
  • If vaccines work, why the masks for those vaccinated? If vaccines work, why would those vaccinated care if others aren’t vaccinated?   

You may think the above is pertinent or not. You may be vaccinated or not. Again, I respect your decision. That said, I think we can all agree that the above list could give pause to at least some, which leads to the following. 

Specific to Church doctrine (the point of this blog), you’ve read before where I’ve stated that all the answers to life can be found in Scripture and from the teachings of the Church. As it turns out, the Church speaks to the above issue in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): 

  • Our identity in Christ, made in the image and likeness of God
    • CCC Paragraph 1700 – The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God; it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude. It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment. By his deliberate actions, the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience. Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth. With the help of grace they grow in virtue, avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son to the mercy of our Father in heaven. In this way they attain to the perfection of charity.
  • Our judgement, given moral conscience 
    • CCC Paragraph 1776 – “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”
    • CCC Paragraph 1782 – Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”

If interested in the above, including how it relates to real life issues, I suggest reading the Catechism, Paragraphs 1700 – 1802. Understand, I’m not a theologian, but as supported by the Catechism (and other sources, including Scripture and other Church teaching), we know that:

  • We are made in the image and likeness of God,
  • With a free will and a conscience,
  • Which God calls us to exercise. 

As such, I’m not sure why some of our Bishops are hesitant to have Clergy assist with religious exemptions; or why some would be forcing vaccinations on all Diocesan employees when arguably at least some are resisting due to matters of conscience. Lastly, in the name of social justice, what about the impact of forced vaccinations on those in most need in our society? 

This is tough stuff, and we live in a challenging world. There’s always going to be an interplay between politics, culture, and faith. That said, we know the impact of the life changing message of Jesus Christ. With our dramatically declining numbers, it’s my prayer that all Christians be intentional about rebuilding our Church, genuinely sharing the love (and truth) of Christ both to those in our pews and outside our Church walls. 

As always, please feel free to contact me at with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

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

Remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!


Mark Joseph