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Weekly Blog

What It Means to Love Your Neighbor

Most of us have neighbors. Some of those neighbors are friends, others are acquaintances, and some we never talk to. We know what “neighbor” feels like. Yet when we hear about our neighbors in a scriptural context, we often think differently. When Jesus says in Matthew 22:39, “love your neighbor as yourself”, our minds often go to far off people and places, i.e. mission trips and making donations.

That’s not what Jesus meant.

Not that those things are bad. I went on a mission trip once to Haiti, that was life changing. Giving money is also a good thing, in fact we’re called to do so. The point here is that many of us could trip over those in our lives who need our help, instead providing for others elsewhere.

I used to be guilty of this. I used to think that stroking checks was enough. It was like I compartmentalized my life. I’d go to Mass, periodically donating my time and talents, but never integrating my “Church” life into my everyday life. That’s changed now. Praise God!!!

I have a friend named Ennie Hickman, who is the President of Adore Ministries. In Houston and at other places throughout the country, Adore serves the poor and marginalized. They do this in many ways, including and especially being good neighbors. Ennie and his wife, Cana, for years have been hosting neighborhood dinners, sharing the love of Christ with more than 100 neighbors at their house each week. Yes, Cana is going straight to Heaven.

Ennie, who is also a national speaker, states the following, “when Jesus said that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, did you know that he meant our real neighbors, not someone theoretical, metaphorical, or in a far-off land? He meant our neighbor neighbors, our next store neighbors, those we see every day in the grocery store or the post office. We are to love those closest to us first”.

How are you loving those in your house? In your neighborhood? Those closest to you on a daily basis? Those in your extended family? Maybe an older, lonely relative? Did you know that 50% of those in nursing homes go the entire year without seeing a single visitor?

We have so many opportunities, far and near, to minister to others, to love others…..to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Pope Francis reminds us that we all need to get our hands dirty, helping the poor and the marginalized. You don’t have to be in ministry to do ministry. There are so many opportunities to show the love of Christ to those around us, starting with our neighbors.

So much of America and this world loves things and uses people. We are called to use things and love people. Let’s start with our neighbor neighbors, as Ennie would remind us.

Please comment to me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

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

Mark Joseph
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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 Does the Church Know? 

Last week I asked you to imagine yourself a professional athlete or Olympian, or an actor, musician, or artist, pointing to the disciplines needed to excel. I then related that to our talents and purpose, making the point that the only way we find our greatness and live lives of peace, joy, and fulfillment, is to avail ourselves to God’s love, grace, mercy, and wisdom. We do so all 7 days of the week (not compartmentalizing our faith) in knowing our identity in Christ…knowing His unconditional love. We also do it in relationship with Him, the Holy Trinity, which is through prayer and the Sacraments. 

I’m hopeful that those connections ring true to you. They do to me and have changed my life. 

With me knowing my identity in Christ, knowing His unconditional love, in embracing my talents and purpose, I’ve developed a deep thirst to grow in faith. The longest 12” in the world is between the head and the heart…we need both on this spiritual journey

  • The heart feeds the mind as guided by the Holy Spirit
  • We can’t be catechized until we’re evangelized. 

Related, believe it or not, it’s only following what the Church teaches(disciplines), that you’ll find peace, joy, and fulfillment. What we’ve not discussed yet is the what the Church has to offer us in this regard. Tons of things can be found within the Church proper and other places:

  • Holy Scripture – so many ways to read and pray through it
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church – rich with historical perspective and information on our faith; comes in several forms
  • Encyclicals by our Popes, documents by Doctors and Fathers of the Church
  • Books by Scripture Scholars and Theologians…hundreds of years old to current day  
  • Faith-based books like mine, where the author has a significant spiritual experience(s) and wants to share it to help others 

Where to Find this Stuff

In today’s world, it’s not just books. There are videos, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, websites, social media posts, internet searches, conferences, virtual events, seminars, webinars, video conferences, Parish Missions, Retreats, teaching series, individual talks, online and on ground education, including graduate level, certificates, certifications, and more…I’m sure I’m missing something. You name it and you can avail yourself to it…really anytime day or night. 

No matter who you are, you can find things that speak to you. There is so much out there, on so many topics related to our faith, those that:

  • Feed the heart 
  • Feed the mind

“Back in the day”, I used to follow Zig Ziglar, famed sales trainer and motivational speaker, who said that by listening to cassette tapes (aging myself) for 30 minutes a day, you could gain a master’s degree in 2 years. Although I’m not sure exactly how true that is, I’ve also heard that reading just 15 minutes a day can change your life. I read 45-60 minutes a night and I believe it has changed mine. Consistent with our current times, I think that applies to listening and watching too…good stuff that helps form yourself into being your very best. 

There’s an expression…you can judge the character of a person by the books he/she reads and people he/she associates with. Prior to my conversion, I read books on wealth creation and management, leadership, organizational health, sales and sales management. I hung out with a bunch of guys that wanted to make gobs of money. Today I read mostly faith based books and surround myself with brothers in Christ. 

I believe all the answers to life are taught by the Church and can be found in Scripture. We’ve covered a small part of it here. Keep looking though. The more I learn, the more I find I want to learn. And one thing I’ve learned is this. We know the end of the story. We know that Jesus won victory for us. What many don’t know is that not only are we made for greatness, but…there is a practical reality to living that greatness all 7 days a week, instead of compartmentalizing our faith. 

As always, please email me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions (of future blog posts or other), or prayer requests. 

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

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

Categories
Weekly Blog

The Sacrament…What’s In Them For Me? 

Two weeks ago, we spoke about how most Christians compartmentalize their faith…it’s a Sunday thing, with many of us living the other 6 days of the week devoid of God. In the following week’s blog, we established how God is more loving, knowing, and present than anyone possibly can be in your life.   

Transitioning, I’d like you to imagine yourself a professional athlete or Olympian, or in the arts, i.e., artist, singer/musician, or actor, where you only become your best and most fulfilled in following specific disciplines. You’re wildly successful, fulfilled in the progress you make with all the hard work you put in, further gratified in how you perform in the big game or on the main stage. 

Here’s how that applies to you…while you probably don’t (I don’t) have the notoriety or fame of a superstar athlete or artist, like them you were given very specific and unique gifts and talents from our Lord. Also like them, you were given a special God given purpose for your life and made for greatness. 

What we’ve also established in this series is that in addition to understanding your identity in Christ, knowing your “why”, and embracing and pursuing your talents and purpose, that the only way to live a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment (wanted by all of us), is to avail ourselves to God’s love, grace, mercy, and wisdom. 

Prayer is obviously a big part of the above. So are the Sacraments. Let’s start with the Sunday Mass. Some suggestions. Learn about the Mass. Do an internet search. Buy a book. Mark Hart wrote “Behold the Mystery”…great read. Dr. Scott Hahn has written books on the Liturgy….very good as well. The Mass came alive for me once I understood all the Mass parts. Some other things: 

  • Get a Mass Journal and take notes, especially related to the Homilies. 
    • You become an active listener, not being distracted…noting what’s important to you
    • There’s always a nugget for future reference. Regardless of your past experience, there’s always something in the Homily or Readings worth noting. Try it.  
  • Pray through the Mass parts. I say this following the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus…”My Lord, My God, Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, come into my mind, heart, body, and soul”.  
  • Sing…worship our Lord – singing is praying twice. 

Doing all of these things will make you more engaged. The more engaged you are, the more you’ll get out of the Liturgy. Try it. Another thing to try is going to Mass more than just on Sundays. Now going daily, I love the simplicity of the daily Liturgy. There’s a beauty to it. Everyone knows one another…great community. Receiving the Eucharist daily strengthens me spiritually and emotionally. Try it if you can…you may be surprised. 

Speaking of the Eucharist, one thing I didn’t mention last week…for me tying prayer to the Eucharist. While the specific place isn’t critical, I’d suggest picking a place and time you can do it daily…setting your watch to it, just like how you schedule your meals or possibly your workouts. The place I love to pray is in Church, prior to daily Mass, in front of Jesus in the Eucharist. It’s always my best prayer time. 

There’s a story of a Peasant from Ars, France, who daily prayed in front of Jesus in the Eucharist, exposed in the Monstrance. When asked about it he responded, “He looks at me and I just look back at Him”. It can be that simple. Jesus wants nothing more than for us to be in relationship with Him…pray as you’d like. He loves it all.  

Confession – I feel sorry for our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters, who don’t have this Sacrament. Going to Confession only sparingly prior to my conversion, my first afterwards was life changing. With me a blubbering mess, Fr. Steve was so kind, patient, loving, and “in Christo” forgiving. It was so cleansing and freeing. While the Church indicates that we need to go at least annually, I now go monthly…thank God!!!  

If you would have told me 15 years ago that the Sacraments would change my life, I would have said you’re crazy. Well, they have. Not only have I grown spiritually, but I’m a better husband, father, son, brother, friend, and mentor. My faith has also been instrumental in me honing my talents and fulfilling my purpose. Lastly, my faith, our God, is critical to me living a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment. Praise God!!!!

As always, please email me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions (of future blog posts or other), or prayer requests. 

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

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph