Weekly Blog

The Boiling Frog and the Church

A quick internet search dispels the myth of the boiling frog. Who knew? From Wikipedia, “the boiling frog” is a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death”. Tests indicate that the frog jumps out of the water as the temperature rises and it becomes uncomfortable.

The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of initiatives or threats that arise gradually”. I don’t know about you, but whether a fallacy or not, I feel like the boiling frog of late. Over the course of the last year, particularly related to COVID, but otherwise too, we have witnessed our government take more and more control over our lives, locally and nationally. While the actual health impact of the pandemic can be debated, what can’t be disputed are the changes we’ve been forced to endure, whether related to our:

  • Churches
  • Restaurants
  • Work
  • Schools
  • Stores
  • Gyms

And the list goes on. In the greatest and freest country in world history, under penalty of law (and shame), we are being forced to act a certain way. We continue to destroy lives and livelihoods.

Don’t get me wrong. My wife and I are taking COVID very seriously, following all the protocols, with it dramatically impacting our lives over the last 12 months. Related, many of us are familiar with Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, where he lives the same day over and over. We were just commenting on us living Groundhog Week, with it being the same week after week after week. Thank God Spring is right around the corner.

It’s not politically controversial to note that the current administration is in favor of greater government control over our lives, given its stated agenda and actions. Our liberties are decreasing. We’re all the boiling frogs while the rich and powerful appear to be getting more rich and powerful.

So, what does the Church have to say about this. Chapter 2, Article 1 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses The Person and Society. Two paragraphs make the primary points:

  • CCC 1881 – Each community is defined by its purpose and consequently obeys specific rules; but “the human person is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions.
  • CCC 1883 – Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, i.e. family, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.

I’d invite you to read the entire Chapter…find the Catechism on the internet with a quick search if you don’t have a copy.

So, as always, here’s the $64,000 question. What are we to do? Here are some ideas:

  1. Do your own research, identifying the issues. We can’t solve for something we don’t understand.
  2. Pray about it:
    1. What are we witnessing being done by our government versus the teachings of the Church?
    2. What is the Lord calling us to do, collectively and individually?
  3. Take action:
    1. Given your God given talents and treasures, how is our Lord asking you to spend some of your time?
    2. Love God, love others, share our faith

Point 3b speaks specifically to the Great Commandments and the Great Commission, spoken to us by Jesus. My sense is that if we as Christians spent more time on these three things (love God, love others, share our faith), the rest, including everything above, would take care of itself.

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!!!

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph


Weekly Blog

Three Things to Help Ourselves and Others in Time of Crisis

It was Monday, March 16th, that the President’s 15 Days to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus, went into place. It was the day after my wife and I went to Sunday Mass for the last time at our Parish (we now watch online). Since then Churches have closed across the country, as has almost everything else. With the exception of those serving in the essential services sector, we’re all at home. Many are able to work remotely, while some (into the millions) have lost their jobs due to the crisis.

We’re still not out of this thing. With what started outside of our country, the ripple effect is incredible. It would seem probable that there are parts of our country, our world, our way of life, that are going to change forever…something that wasn’t close to being on our radar earlier in the year, when things were humming along.
In watching the news, seeing what’s being posted, and talking to folks, there’s a lot of fear and anxiety out there. I can genuinely say that I’ve experienced neither, which I would attribute to my faith. What I’m absolutely amazed by is how everything flipped on a dime. The world has literally been turned upside down by Coronavirus overnight. It’s surreal. It’s nuts. It’s really unbelievable.

Photo by Charry Jin from Pexels

So, the question becomes what we can do for ourselves and others during these times. I’ve identified three things:

  1. Stay in a place of Gratitude
  2. Do what you can…don’t worry about the rest
  3. Help others

Stay in a Place of Gratitude
It was a year ago that I posted a blog titled, “Do You Need An Attitude Adjustment Too?”, which you can find here. Not wanting to be redundant, I want to stress the importance of gratitude in these times. BTW, a quick internet search will indicate how important gratitude is to us. Without question, we are currently facing challenging times. And at the same time, so many of us are so blessed. For me, I am so thankful for so much…

  • Starting with Jesus Christ as my Savior
  • Very close second is my wife and the relationship we have, followed by our children and their families, all incredible blessings to us
  • For my journey (everything that has occurred in my life, including the tragedy) and what God now has me doing in my life
  • For my upbringing, my loving parents, my brothers, and our broader family and friends
  • For everything that occurs in my daily life, the good (for obvious reasons) and the bad (for the lessons they teach me).

I don’t mean to drone on, but want to provide you with examples. We all have so much to be thankful for in our lives. We need to take account of these things daily, thanking God in prayer.

Image by Bongkarn Thanyakij from Pexels

Do What You Can…Don’t Worry About the Rest
I’m reminded of the Serenity Prayer, which I say daily:

God grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would like it.

Trusting that He will make all things right,
If I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this world
And supremely joyful in the next.

We have very little control over much of our lives, i.e. Coronavirus. I believe strongly that the above prayer, including the first four lines, are indicative of the healthy way to live life. Do what you can and don’t worry about the rest.

Help Others
This one is obvious and we’re seeing examples of it everywhere. I, like you, could fill 13 pages with examples. Here’s a different slant though. Those who do mission work or ministry most often feel more served by those they’re serving than the other way around. In other words, it’s in those in need that we truly see the face of Christ, where we feel the love of Christ.

While serving others is not to be about us, we do benefit from it, which is a nice thing in these challenging times. Reading Scripture this morning, I came across Luke 8:39, where Jesus says to a man he just healed, “return home and recount what great things God has done for you”. Two things…first, be grateful. Second, another way to help others is to share the Gospel message, including your testimony.

Praying for all of us as we make our way out of this crisis. As always, should you have questions, comments, or concerns, please contact me at [email protected].

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

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

Kobe Bryant’s Big Three

Hey *|FNAME|*,

Kobe Bryant was one of the most prolific professional basketball players of all time, winning five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was the 3rd highest scorer in NBA history until January 25th, 2020, when LeBron James took his place, moving Kobe to 4th.

In classy Kobe fashion, he tweeted “continuing to move the game forward @KingJames; much respect my brother”. That tweet would be his last public statement. Kobe and his 13 year-old daughter were killed with several others, in a tragic helicopter crash the next day, on January 26th.

Image by Alexandra Walt from Flickr CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication

When I reflect on Kobe’s passing, two things come to mind. First is how we glorify our heroes in this world, whether sports stars, performers, dignitaries, or the rich and otherwise famous. In our culture, they are idolized. They are held on a pedestal, with most being envious of their lives, often believing that they don’t have challenges like us plain folk.

Two points I would make on the above:

  1. Everyone, regardless of fame or fortune, or lack thereof, has challenges in their lives….everyone!!!
  2. We are gifts from God, made in His image and likeness. As such, we are not to look down on anyone. Likewise, we are to look up to no one except Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Number 2 above doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to emulate positive characteristics of others. It does mean that you aren’t to idolize or envy them.

The second thing I think of are the “Big Three” things that Kobe arguably had figured out. They include:

  1. Faith
    1. It’s widely known that Kobe was Catholic. That in of itself isn’t a big deal in that many Catholics don’t practice the faith. Kobe did, reportedly attending 7AM Sunday Mass on a regular basis, including the day he and his daughter were killed.
    2. It’s also widely known that Kobe made a bad decision in 2003, where he was with a woman other than his wife. Kobe is quoted as saying, “The one thing that really helped me during that process was talking to a Priest”. Kobe indicates that the Priest gave him advice that all of us could use, “Let it go. Move on. God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go”. Kobe indicated that was the turning point.
  2. Family
    1. Even with the above, although they split for a period, Kobe and his wife, Vanessa, reconciled. The couple had 4 beautiful daughters. Reports indicate that Kobe was hugely invested in all of his girls, including his precious wife.
    2. So many people step over their families to be with others. Not Kobe. As the reports indicate, he knew his priority. He spent tons of time with them and loved them all dearly.
  3. Purpose
    1. In watching interviews and reading several articles, it’s clear that from a very young age, Kobe was an incredibly hard worker. He knew his passion. He pursued his passion vigorously and he was among the very best.
    2. One interview indicated that Kobe was keenly aware of the platform that basketball gave him. As such, he was committed to making a difference in retirement. With a concentration on youth, the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation provides scholarships and leadership training, while attacking youth homelessness. They were both actively involved in other charity work as well.

In reading my blogs, you know that I strongly believe that God made each of us with special gifts and talents; gave us all a unique purpose….and that it’s incumbent upon us to discover those things and exercise our greatness. You also know that I believe that first in our lives needs to come our faith and our family. Kobe Bryant got it. He did these things. He’s a great example to all of us, not because he’s an NBA star, but because he loved our God, embraced his purpose, and was a very good husband and father. Kobe and Gianna, Rest in Peace.

Image by Ethan Miller from Getty Images

How is Kobe an example to you? Feel free to comment on that question or reach out to me with other questions, comments, challenges at [email protected].

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

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

It’s Such Good News, You Have to Share It

There are many things that we discover in life that change our behavior on a go forward basis. A good example for me is my diet. Given the extensive research that my wife has done, in addition to her willingness to shop for and cook organic, quality ingredients, we eat incredibly healthy food, which also tastes very good. My diet today isn’t what it was 20 years ago or 40 years ago. Our diet is different than it was just 5 years ago.

The same is true regarding my exercise. Always an exercise enthusiast, my routine today is different that 30 years ago. I’ve not only enhanced it over time, but adapted it to my age, with more of a concentration on cardio and light weights as opposed to heavy weights.

In both cases above, I’ve made changes in my life for the better, having learned lessons along the way. That said, I’ll occasionally miss a workout. I’ll also rarely stray from my good diet to indulge in an old favorite, i.e. Italian hoagie from my favorite sub shop.

You Won’t Want To Go Back

There’s one place I don’t stray, given the lessons learned and experiences had…that’s my faith. I have a deep faith in and incredibly strong love for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Since my conversion in March, 2006, I’ve not wavered on that for a second. In fact, there’s no one I know, who once they’ve had their conversion or made the decision, would go back to a life without Jesus Christ. No one.

The point of this blog isn’t to answer the question “why” for the above. For those who regularly read my weekly messages, have been to my website, or read my book, they know that me understanding and internalizing the love of Christ changed everything in my life. It absolutely rocked my world…for the (much) better.

You Can’t Help But Share

Part of having this particular, overwhelmingly positive experience is the desire, the need to share it. Although not exactly the same, we can draw analogies from life. If you see a great movie, read a really good book, or have a very nice experience at a restaurant, you’re very likely to share those things with others. We all do this. It’s human nature. We share the things we like in our lives.

The same is true of our faith. For those of us who have caught the bug (so to speak), who have had that conversion and/or really have internalized the love of Christ, we can’t help but want to share it. The question is how.

How to Share Your Faith

I have a good friend named Dave VanVickle, who is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, an author, national speaker (including the Steubenville Conferences), and the Director of Evangelization at my Parish. Dave just published an article in our weekly Parish bulletin on this subject, where he states that the goal of evangelization is to foster an encounter with Jesus Christ. Dave indicates that we are introducing two people and until the introduction actually occurs, we have not met our goal. He suggests three possible methods to use when engaging in personal evangelization:

  1. Very simply asking someone if you can pray with them is often that moment where Jesus breaks into their life in a meaningful way. It might be awkward, so both have step out in faith that God will work. A great opening for this is when a person presents a specific problem in their life. Instead of saying you will pray for them, why not ask them right then if you can pray with them. Lead them in prayer and ask God to come into the situation.
  2. Suggesting a prayer or scripture to take to their quiet times. When you sense someone is ready to let Jesus in, suggest to them to prayerfully read a specific chapter of the gospels. What’s your favorite?
  3. Possibly the most powerful way is to invite them to Eucharistic adoration. They don’t have to do anything at all. They can be angry, sad, bored and none of it matters because Jesus is there, and all they have to do is be honest with Him.

This is the moment you prepare and pray for. That moment when you feel the Holy Spirit saying, “Now…they are ready for an invitation.” Are you ready to step out in faith?

As always, feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or challenges at [email protected].

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

Mark Joseph