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Weekly Blog

Your Path to Peace…Guaranteed

We began this series the first Wednesday after New Years’, with accompanying videos every Friday. We identified the things that overwhelm us (chasing the things that can’t bring us happiness), then discussed my lived experience in how to overcome them. You’ve heard me say that in understanding and internalizing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ: 

  • The unimaginable is achievable
  • There can be Heaven on earth
  • There exists a definitive path to peace, joy, and fulfillment. 

God loves you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done…He made you for Greatness. You have unique and special God given gifts and we are put on this earth for a specific purpose.  

We’ve discussed the things that add to your greatness, your happiness…all the attributes of discipleship: 

  • Our identity in Christ, knowing God’s love
  • Active prayer life
  • Vibrant Sacramental life
  • Living by the teachings of Jesus
  • Authentic Fellowship
  • Serving those in need
  • Sharing the love of Christ 

Embracing the above, although simple but not easy, is the only way to live a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment. The “peace” portion of that includes the following:  

  • Surrender – it is only in me truly knowing God’s unconditional love that I could trust Him. Convinced He made me a specific way for special things; He knows me better than anyone, knowing what will make me happy. Knowing that He knows best and wants the very best for me, I can experience Greatness by surrendering to our all-loving God.  
  • Gratitude – it’s understanding that everything in my life happens for a reason, according to God’s grand plan, shaping me for His glory and my fulfillment. I may not know “why” now, but it’s all to bring me closer to God and for a greater good. In addition, I’ve learned I need to have an attitude of gratitude. 
  • I know in Humility that it’s not me, but God working thru me that Greatness occurs. Knowing this and coupled with Surrender, I give all over to Him, which relieves me of all the pressure…I just do my best and leave the rest to our Lord
  • Love, love, love. This all culminates in love, fulfilling the Great Commandments in loving God and loving our neighbors. 

That’s it. Not overly complicated…definitely not easy. But oh, is it worth it though. It works, which doesn’t mean that all your problems are going to go away, but here’s the deal. In knowing the love of Christ, you’ll have a joy that is independent of substance and circumstance. You’ll be fulfilled. You’ll have peace. 

Stay tuned for what we go to next. Shoot me a note with any requests. Reach out to me if you want to chat about any of this and as always, please email me with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.  

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

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

 

P.S. Tomorrow marks what would have been my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Miss Dad, Mum. I love you!!!

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Weekly Blog

What Church Could Be Once Again

Pre-COVID, what’s your experience of Church? Were the pews full? Do entire families attend? Is there a vibrancy?

Many of us are old enough to remember when the Parish was central to family life. As I recall, most of the people on our street attended my boyhood Parish. So did many more, who we got to bond with every Sunday as entire families. With the Masses full, we didn’t just jet out of the parking lot after, but engaged with other families, often around the donut table. Sacraments were flourishing. My parents would go to the New Years’ Eve and Valentine’s Day dances at the Parish with their many friends. There was the summer Parish picnic and other events throughout the year. Father used to come over for dinner and my parents would volunteer at the Parish.

For most of us, those memories are of the past. Christianity has suffered from dramatically decreasing numbers over the last several decades. This trend includes the Catholic Church, with Masses being much less crowded. In many Dioceses, some Parishes are closing or clustering. Statistically our numbers are way down, whether it’s the number of weddings, baptisms, or first communions. Add to that the reduced number of Priests and Religious Sisters. What is on the rise is the number of Parishes without a resident Priest, now 1 in 5 in the U.S., up five-fold over the last several decades.

What the Local Church Can Become

Imagine Parishes where Churches are full for every Mass. Parishioners participant in vibrant and engaging liturgies, in Parishes that are known for their hospitality. The number of volunteers at the Parish is only exceeded by those in small groups. There’s an atmosphere of “family ministry”, where programs not only exist for the entire family, but youth and adults of all ages, at all stations of life. In addition:

  • Religious Education classes are full, led by engaged teachers, who share the love of Christ with their students while providing strong Catholic orthodoxy in a compelling way.
  • With a culture of evangelization and discipleship, the RCIA program ushers in numerous people to the Church every year.
  • Based in a deep spirituality, there is a culture of generosity which includes Parishioners’ time, talents, and treasures, both within the Parish as well as providing service to the community.
  • Parishes are known for their outreach to those in need, attracting people to the faith, and accompanying their Parishioners in their spiritual growth.
  • Parishes are the center of activity for Parishioners and others in the community.
  • Not only are vocations to religious life no longer in short supply, but the elderly are cared for, marriages are thriving, and families are growing in holiness.
  • Significantly more people are living their faith, have hope, and know their purpose in life.

You think the above is a thing of the past, a pipedream? Think again. It can be done. Although they are not in significant number, there are Catholic Parishes, with strong Pastoral leadership, as well as non-denominational Churches, which are “re-envisioning Church” and renewing the spiritual lives of their Parishioners.

What Can We Do?

I don’t know about you, but the parents and grandparents I know who are actively engaged in their faith (me included) have one primary desire, in addition to pursuing our faith. That is passing along the faith to their kids and grandkids. Friends too. It’s Jesus’ desire too, giving us the Great Commandments and Great Commission.

Consistent with Vatican II and the New Evangelization, the laity are called to work with our Clergy, who cannot do it alone. Our Priests need support, assistance, and collaboration in revitalizing our Parishes, making them places of vibrant worship and missionary discipleship.

What do you see as your role? How can you help? What can you do? There’s a lot. Feel free to reach out to me. Happy to chat about it. We can have what we had years ago and to my way of thinking, it’s a pursuit worth pursuing. Amen!!!

As always, feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, 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

Saved That One

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by what’s going on around you? It could be something in your immediate sphere, i.e. a personal problem, challenge with someone close to you, etc. Or it could be the enormity of what’s transpiring on a much broader scale, i.e. in our Church, our country, or the world. Especially with the latter, the thought often is, “there’s nothing I can do”. 

Here’s a story that involves starfish to refute that point. Btw, a quick internet search indicates that while starfish are living creatures, all 1,600 species, they aren’t really fish. Anyhow, there’s a boy who’s walking down the beach after a storm, where numerous starfish have washed up on the shore. Every couple steps, he bends over, picks up a starfish and throws it into the water, with the hope of saving its life. He’s walking on the beach for quite a while, saving (hopefully) dozens and dozens of starfish. 

Coming from afar in the opposite direction, is an old man who can see what the boy is doing over the course of several hundred yards. Having taken note of him, he says as he approaches, “hey boy, what are you doing?” The boy, startled, looks at the old man, being caught by surprise and having a laser focus on the starfish he is endeavoring to save. He looks back down, picks up another starfish, and throws it into the ocean.  

So engrossed in what he’s doing, the boy didn’t look to respond to the old man, but kept walking, picking up the next and the next starfish. The old man yelled out to the boy again, this time in a voice sure to get his attention, “hey boy, what are you doing?” The Boy responded this time, saying “these starfish washed up on the shore in the storm. I’m picking them up and throwing them back so that they can live”. 

The old man chuckles sarcastically and says as he’s passing by, “boy, look up and down this beach. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of starfish. You’re never going to save all of them”. Without losing a step, the boy picks up another starfish and yells to the old man to get his attention. When the old man turns, looking straight into his eyes, the boy throws another starfish back into the water and says, “I saved that one, didn’t I”. 

“I saved that one, didn’t I”. Think about it. A smile. A handshake. Asking someone how their day is going. Buying a colleague a coffee. Calling a friend out of the blue. Visiting an elderly relative. I’m reminded of the Great Commandments (Matthew 22:35-40 or Mark 12:28-34) and Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), where Jesus tells us what is most important….love God, love our neighbors, and share our faith. 

Not only can we make an impact…one soul at a time, but if more people made such an impact, think about the Church, country, and world we would have. 

As always, feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, 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

Satan Must Be Pleased

Given what’s occurring in our country, I thought I’d write about two things this week that have been on my heart:

  • Destructive nature of Division
  • Importance of Unity

Regarding the first point, Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:25 “Every kingdom divided against itself will become desolate. And every city or house divided against itself will not stand”,

Abraham Lincoln made a very similar point, on June 16, 1858. When running for the US Senate and addressing the issue of slavery, Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (recognized by many as related to Jesus’ message in the Gospels).

Our country is about as divided as it can be. Most can’t believe what is happening, whether in our streets, in our government, within our Churches, or our families. We as a nation are divided and individuals are divided.

Unless things change dramatically, it’s difficult to see how we’re going to recover from this moment in history. The words of both Jesus and Abraham Lincoln would appear to ring true.
I’m sure our country’s adversaries are enjoying what’s happening. So is Satan, who must be very pleased, with one of his primary strategies being division, in addition to deception, diversion, discouragement.

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Importance of Unity

The older I get, the more I point to Scripture and the Church for the answers to life. Related to unity (and all other things), examples are numerous:

  • Jesus prayed for our unity prior to Him being arrested and crucified, in John 17:20-21, “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,Anchor so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us”.
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 817, “Where there are sins, there are also divisions…where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers”.
  • Colossians 3:12-14, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do, and over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection”.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:4-8, Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Tying the above together, Jesus prayed for our unity, knowing its importance. Sin (we need to resolve to be better) creates division, whereas virtue (we need to resolve to be better) causes harmony and unity. We need to forgive others with compassion and kindness. Lastly, we need to love, as characterized above.

Given what’s transpiring in our country, I continue to discern what God is calling me to do. Regardless of where my prayer takes me, from the above I think it’s obvious that I need to first love those around me and bring unity wherever I can, balanced by the truth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Please join me in praying for our country!!!

As always, feel free to contact me with questions, concerns, or comments at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

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

Mark Joseph

P.S. Cling to the Cross….our only source of TRUE PEACE!!!