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Weekly Blog

The Gift of Our Faith

Do you ever wonder what you’d do without your faith? How you’d experience life? It’s hard to imagine. Having Jesus Christ as my lens through which to see the world is an extreme comfort. After all, we know the end of the story…as they say. We know who wins. 

As I referenced two weeks ago, life can and does get tough. We are presented with many challenges. Some are far reaching and although may not have an immediate personal impact, can create worry nonetheless. Others are very personal and close to home. 

Related to the latter, this COVID thing is crazy. It hits different people in various ways. I have a friend, Ben, who’s been in the hospital with it since June 17th, first on a ventilator and getting dialysis. We would get updates from his wife, Mariely, regularly and for a while they weren’t good. He was in real danger. By the time this blog posts, he will hopefully have had the trach tube removed and is now able to talk. 

I visited Ben recently and he looked amazing, really amazing, especially given what he’s gone through. We prayed together and received Communion from a visiting Deacon. Ben is wearing a scapular and has a Rosary ring. There’s a large picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the windowsill. Given the great devotion they have to our Virgin Mother, Mariely was sharing with me the Marian Feasts that take place during August, each one marking a new milestone in Ben’s recovery. Mariely also shared the soothing impact it has on Ben when she prays the Rosary daily, along with the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  

Because of COVID, I had stopped going to daily Mass and was dragging my feet going back. It was Ben insisting that I do so, that got me to go again…never missing. I work with Ben. I love asking him to pray before our meetings, where he always reverently invokes our Lady. Ben is one of the holiest, kindest, conscientious, most compassionate (and btw smartest), men I know and I’m not just saying that because he’s been sick. He deeply loves our Lord, along with his wife and kids. His faith is a part of him. You can hear it in his voice and see it in his actions.  

 

Be Not Afraid

I was on a call this past week, where the person I was talking to said, “be not afraid”, making reference to our faith. I reminded him that it says some derivative of that, 365 times in Scripture. Ben has no fear because he has faith. It was such a joy being with Ben and Mariely, whose faith is so strong. What an example they are. 

Here’s the deal. We are going to have challenges in life…big struggles, even tragedies. They’re going to occur whether we’re in relationship with Jesus or not. Here’s what I know, having done it both ways. Life is always better with God in it. Our faith really matters. It changes everything, including eliminating the fear. It’s a gift. It’s very apparent in those who truly live it, like Ben and Mariely. 

Please join me in praying for Ben (and Mariely), that he soon gets out of the hospital and fully recovers prior to his ordination to the Diaconate this fall. Let’s additionally pray for all of those who lack faith and live in fear. May God bless all of us on our journeys. 

As always, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] 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

Categories
Weekly Blog

Losing a Classmate

A couple weeks ago, I went to the funeral of a college classmate. Although I had not seen Midge, who died way too young, since graduating 35 years ago, I felt compelled to attend. Not a surprise, there I saw Mary Anne, Midge’s college roommate and lifelong best friend since grade school. My college roommate (Jim) and I had a connection with Midge and Mary Anne, in that we were all from Pittsburgh. We hadn’t known each other prior to college, nor did we see one another between semesters, but we had that common bond that connected us. Interesting how that happens.

Realizing that it’s 35 years ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be, I can’t remember ever seeing Midge separate from Mary Anne. They were inseparable….always together. And always, always SMILING AND LAUGHING. Reflecting on it, I can’t recall ever meeting two more joy filled people during that time in my life. What a great memory.

Fr. Tom, who was the Celebrant for Midge’s Funeral Mass, is Mary Anne’s brother, and as such has known Midge his entire life. During his homily/eulogy, he told stories of her life, always smiling and laughing, always bringing joy to other people. While he also used words like “love” and “courage”, he said his lasting memory of Midge would be “joy”. Independent of circumstance, she apparently never lost that joy during her 20-month battle with cancer.

Over the last 60 days, I lost two other friends who exuded pure joy. They are Fr. Jose Robles-Sanchez and Joy Rapp, two outstanding individuals I knew from our Steubenville Conference Ministry. Again, always smiling and like Midge, always concerned about the other person. Always bringing joy to others.

Being my age or younger, all three died way too young. If we believe what we say we believe (and I do), we know they’re in a much better place. Praise God!!! But what about us? What are we to do? What lessons do we take from losing such wonderful people…so young?

Here’s one of my lessons. We’ve all heard that love is a decision, not a feeling. In unpacking that, I think we can agree it is true. For me, I’d like to make joy a decision, not an emotion. Looking at Midge and Mary Anne, Fr. Jose and Joy as examples, I want to live in a place of joy, independent of substance or circumstance. I want to smile and laugh. I want to bring joy to others.

As evidenced on my website and the things I write about and speak on, I firmly believe that there is a Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment. I also believe that God made each of us uniquely, with special gifts, for a specific purpose. God made you for Greatness!! It’s in using those gifts and pursuing your God given purpose that you can experience joy (along with peace and fulfillment). There’s one more important factor. To experience true joy, again independent of substance or circumstance, you need to know the unconditional love of Jesus Christ (if you want more info on that, please reach out to me). May we all be so blessed!!!

As always, please contact me at [email protected] 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