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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

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Weekly Blog

What’s Your Deepest Desire?

What is your deepest desire? What do you want more than anything in your life? What disappoints you tremendously when you don’t experience it? And provides you with great joy when you do?

In doing a quick internet search, several sermons came up, with all indicating something like….”the deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God”. I humbly disagree…with a twist.

Think about this. What is it that you truly want more than anything in the world? {Drum roll please ?} That thing which we all universally want, more than anything, is to be loved and accepted…genuinely for “who” we are, not what we “do”. We want to be chosen, to be desired.  We want to feel special, to be affirmed. We want to be loved unconditionally, accepted for the people we truly are. No pretending. No facade. Just for our authentic selves.

The above is true, as reflected in studies and surveys. We want nothing more than to be unconditionally loved and accepted. From an authentic, personal, and emotional level, we want that love and acceptance from those in our lives…our parents, siblings, and spouses, our children, other relatives, friends, and colleagues.

Here’s the bad news…we’ll never get it…not unconditionally and not consistently. Conflicts will occur. Challenges will happen. Life is messy and we’re human. We’re imperfect sinners. As such, we can’t possibly provide one another regularly with what we so deeply desire.

 

Our Failed Attempts

I refer to the 4 Ps as prominence, possessions, pleasure, and people. With the last of the four not being able to satisfy as indicated above, we go to the first three. But as Johnny Lee sings, we are “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places”. The fact is that none of these things will ever satisfy us, never fill the God sized hole in the center of our chests.

I said above, “I humbly disagree…with a twist”. My disagreement is that I don’t believe we care where that unconditional love comes from. We just want it. As it occurs (here’s the twist), the ONLY place it can come from is God. In my view, consistent with the sermons sited above, the ONLY thing that will satisfy your deepest desire is you understanding and internalizing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

God loves you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done. You’ve been chosen by God. Made in His image and likeness, you’re a beloved child of God, who loves you unconditionally. He made you with special and unique gifts and talents. God put you on this earth with a purpose. God loves you and made you for greatness. Know that truth and live a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment!!!

As always, please feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com 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

 

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Weekly Blog

Planning for a Life with Purpose

It is said that most people spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do their lives. There’s evidence that many are additionally challenged with managing the “plan”, even if having established one. Does any of this resonate with you? If so, you’re not alone. And remember this…it’s never too late to start being (or enhancing) the person you want to be, the person God is calling you to be.

We started this series by talking about your life’s experiences (lifeline), which led to your “why”. Both play an important role in your life plan (last week’s blog), which would hopefully include God’s purpose for your life. Here we talk about how to incorporate your life plan into day-to-day life.

In knowing my material, it won’t surprise you that I suggest taking the planning process to prayer. Just prior to your planning for the month, week, and day, you could say something like,

“Dear Lord, please be with me as I move through my life. Help me to recognize, prioritize, and accomplish all that you want for me and from me. Help me to continue to understand that it is not me, but You working through me in all things. Therefore, help me to do my best, then surrendering all over to You”.

Monthly Planning

To do your Monthly Plan, you’ll want to reference your Life Plan, as well as your previous monthly plans. Asking God to put the right things on your mind, record on one of the pages in your Planner your personal goals, projects, and To Do’s. All the above things apply for your professional life too.

Note – although not everyone has a job outside his/her home, there are typically things that fall into the “personal” category and others that could be referred to as “work” or “professional”. The point is that this system can be used by everyone.

Weekly Planning

For the weekly plan, I’d suggest identifying:

  • Phone calls to be made
  • Emails to be sent
  • To Do’s
  • Projects
  • Goals
  • To Do’s
  • “Waiting On”

Daily Planning

What I do first thing in the morning or the evening before, is to identify those things from the Weekly Plan that I want to get done that particular day.

 

Execution of Your Plan

As I am moving through my day, achieving the things I’ve identified, I mark them down, with a “+” if I’m waiting on something or a double checkmark when completed in total.

Prayer, Planning, and Solitude – to be done at the end of your day, week, and month.

  • Daily
    • Review what you’ve accomplished, making sure all notes and tasks are updated.
    • Set your priorities for the next day, identifying them as described above
  • Weekly
    • Construct your weekly calendar, moving forward whatever you didn’t achieve from the last week.
    • Anything that you are waiting on will go to the “Waiting On” list.
  • Monthly – referencing your Life Plan and last month’s Plan, you assess what you’ve accomplished or not and what you want to keep on the plan or not. You of course can be adding things. It will help to reference your weekly plans as well.

I hope all this was helpful. As my dear old Dad used to say, “plan your work and work your plan”. It’s worked for me. I’m confident it can work for you.

God made you for Greatness. Hopefully these last four weeks, starting with:

  • Your lifeline
  • Then moving to your “why”
  • Followed by how to do your life plan
  • And now how to plan and execute

…help you to find and maximize the Greatness God wants for you.

If you’d like more detailed documents on these processes, please email be at the address below and we’ll send them to you.

As always, please feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com 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

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Weekly Blog

People Are Disappointing

There are lots of ways people disappoint us. Family. Friends. Casual encounters. We’re human. We’re all sinners. So, the fact that we disappoint one another, in various ways, isn’t a surprise. 

What I’m referring to in this post, that is so disappointing, is lack of response, primarily related to text messages and emails. I’m no longer surprised or amazed that it occurs. It’s now common place, to be expected. Please note…I’m not talking about people (y’all) responding to blog posts like this one. I’m referring to one on one communications. 

I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. In doing an internet search, there are plenty of articles on the subject. People either don’t respond…which is the most frequent issue, or the response is delayed. What I couldn’t find on the internet (I’m sure I just need to search more) is the real reason or the impact. 

It Would Seem Being Too Busy Isn’t Valid

As a slight aside, at one time I believed that what I was experiencing in life was unique to me. As I’ve progressed, engaging with many on the same journey, I know that we’re all experiencing very similar things, possibly characterized differently. As such, I now know if I’m feeling it, if I’m experiencing it, chances are most others are too. 

One of the reasons pointed to is how busy people are. With the previous paragraph as context, I believe I am representative of most in relation to how busy I am or not. I would assume my inboxes, both work and personal, are similar to others. I would think my text traffic is comparable to most my age. 

I respond…really to all my emails and texts. For me not to do so would be an oversight…which I typically catch within a short period of time. Being as busy as others (I think), I seem to have time to respond. BTW, I’m not suggesting I’m perfect. I make plenty of mistakes with plenty of things. 

Woman Frustrated Lo
Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

How Would You Feel?

Here’s the other side of the coin…how does it make people feel to not get a response. Ignored, forgotten, unimportant, not a priority? Whether we want to acknowledge them or not, we know none of these things are positives. I’d suggest they add to the statistics for the societal ills going in the wrong direction in our world, i.e. depression, isolation, anxiety, addiction, suicide, etc. 

It would seem people experiencing the impact of not being responded to doesn’t seem to positively impact response to others. Does anyone else find that interesting? 

This may seem like a silly example to you. Imagine sitting at a table with someone. You say something to them, transactional or possibly with detail and depth, maybe even emotional. After, the person sitting across from you doesn’t respond. He or she just sits there, possibly not even looking at you. You wait for a response…and none is forthcoming. What would that imply about that person? Would that behavior be acceptable? Would you be eager to re-engage with that person? 

What Should We Do? 

Maybe I’m just wining. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Or does it? To me, it’s a continuation of the downhill spiral that we’ve been on. I’ve come to say the more connected we are (social media, apps, text, email), the more isolation we experience. I’d argue isolation isn’t good. Nor are its impacts. 

We’re not meant to go through life alone. We are made for community, for friendship, authentic relationship. The second part of the Great Commandments is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Second to loving God, we have no greater call. 

I’d suggest the way we treat one another, whether in person or online, is important. I hope the above prompts some thought. When someone sends a note, he or she has taken the time and expended the effort to do so. That person is believing he/she would receive a response…or in most cases wouldn’t have sent the note. As Jesus told us, “love your neighbor as yourself”. More people doing so (responding) would make this a better world. Amen!!!

As always, please contact me with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, 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