Weekly Blog

We Only Have One Savior

Do you ever feel like it all relies on you? You feel all this pressure, believing that if you don’t perform that it’s not going to get done? That without your efforts alone, failure is right around the corner. All is doomed. It’s you or nothing. 

I know that in my past, prior to me experiencing conversion and being on this spiritual journey, I felt like that most of the time. It was especially true for my business life, but to be honest it’s the feeling I had in other aspects of my life too. Unknowingly, I was playing the “savior”. 

Having matured in my faith and having a greater reliance on God, I thought that I had escaped the above. Then recently, through some “spiritual coaching”, I discovered the opposite…I’m still playing the savior. Maybe not in the same way as before, but my behavior would indicate that I still believe it’s all up to me. 

Some things from my notes from that coaching:

  • I need to work at a pace that is healthy and trusting in God, so I can stay in His peace.
  • I need to surrender it all to Him and stop playing savior; it’s more than I can carry.
  • Intercessory prayer is more important than human effort; it’s only God who can change hearts. 
  • The primary agent is God; need to turn all over to Him.
  • Need to say/pray, “Lord, I’m trusting in You”. 
  • There’s a difference between doing something “with” the Lord and “for” the Lord. He wants to work with us. 
  • If it’s going to be saved, it will be by God and not me. 

In a recent blog I wrote, “pray as though everything depends on God; act (work) as though everything depends on you”…often attributed to St. Ignatius and St. Augustine. I like this quote because I think it speaks to the reality of our lives as Christians. Having made us very uniquely and perfectly, God calls on us to use our God given gifts to the best of our ability…but then leave the rest to Him. 

Photo by Alicia Quan on Unsplash

Doing the above is surrender, which we’re reminded of in one of the first prayers we learn, the Our Father, “Thy will be done”. I think that’s my hang-up here. There’s a big difference between surrender and SURRENDER…in all we do. I’ve been talking about all of this for several years now. Truly living it is another thing. Simple, it’s certainly not easy. 

I’ve said before that surrender first requires absolute trust, knowing that God loves me unconditionally, that Jesus would have still died that same torturous death if it were only me on this earth. God made me with unique gifts and talents and put me on this earth for a specific purpose, all according to His grand plan, individually and as part of all of humanity. He wants me to be happy and fulfilled. Even with life’s challenges, God’s given me the ability to live in peace and joy. Lastly, the Holy Spirit lives within me. 

These things are true for all of us. And it’s only in understanding and internalizing them as truth that we can come to this place of surrender. I think I have when it comes to those things that require small “s” surrender. But those BIG “S” SURRENDER things. They’re something different. 

Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

Humility is a part of it, understanding that it’s not really us doing the work, but Him working through us. Connecting it to gratitude, we’re then free to not feel the pressure of the outcome, but leave that instead to God…knowing that all happens for a reason, according to His grand plan.  

We only have one Savior, that’s Jesus Christ. It’s not me and it’s not you. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. I pray that I continue to grow in faith, becoming holier, and living a life of surrender, gratitude, humility, and love. It’s a journey for all of us. I pray you do the same. 

As always, please email me at [email protected] with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests. 

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

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

Losing Those Close To Us

Today is three years since my Dad died, and I miss him dearly. With the exception of my wife, there’s probably no one I talked to more frequently. He was always there, my biggest fan and advocate. I wrote about him on October 23rd, 2019. 

My Dad didn’t die suddenly, but was failing over a period of time. The same was true for my father-in-law and most of the people I’ve lost in my life. Now 59 myself, the list is extensive, including all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others…most where it wasn’t a surprise by the time they reached the end. I have a cousin, Eric who died almost 30 years ago at the age of 30, from Hodgkin disease. With him beginning his cancer journey at age 9, it wasn’t a surprise, although very sad and felt different given how young he was. 

My father and mother

Jim Sweeney, acclaimed offensive lineman at Pitt, followed by the New York Jets and the Steelers, just suddenly died at age 60. I had the privilege of knowing Jim, playing high school football with him and reconnecting when in our early 40s. With all his success, you’d never meet a more humble person than Jim. What a great guy, who will be missed by many. 

Jim was a shock. The deaths of the others, as indicated, were expected. Brian, a friend who I’ve known for almost 30 years, is in a different category for me. Still with us while fighting a cancer that has progressed significantly, it’s tough to watch. Maybe it’s different because Brian is 10 years younger than me. Or because I’m of the age where my own mortality is more relevant. Or knowing the age of his kids, sensing what this is doing to his family. 

I say “watch” above figuratively because I’ve not seen Brian often (couple times) since his diagnosis. I feel badly in not being more present to him. We talk and text periodically. I pray for him and his family often. None of it seems like enough.

Where am I going with this?

What’s my point? I think it’s three things…love, gratitude, and reflection. Taking the last first, I think we can learn a lot in reflecting on the lives of others. What are the lessons for us? Their impact on our lives? The things they may have done differently. We can also reflect on how we interacted with them…the things we would change for the future with others. 

Born out of that reflection should be gratitude…for their lives, our relationships, and the lessons learned. When talking about death and suffering, it’s sometimes difficult to have an “attitude of gratitude”, understanding as I often say, “everything happens for a reason, according to God’s grand plan”. Believing that God doesn’t create these things, it’s my lived experience that He allows them to bring a greater good, have us grow closer to Him, and internalize His unconditional love. 

Lastly is love, which arguably always comes first. Above all else as Jesus tells us in the Great Commandments, we’re called to love…love God and love our neighbors. While still on this earth, we need to love them, love them, love them, which can take many forms. That love can’t wait till they’re gone. We need to act. I need to act, not letting the busyness of life get in the way, not being distracted by the unimportant. 

Here’s my encouragement to all of us. Life is precious. Life is short. Let’s love each other, including those sick, suffering, or in need. Let’s be grateful for the lives of others, and our relationship with them. Let’s continue to learn all that we can from those who go before us, so we can live the lives God calls us to. 

As always, please email me with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests at [email protected].  

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

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

Enough Is Enough

I am Catholic. I was raised Catholic, cherishing my faith now today more than ever. If I had to guess, 98%+ of the readers of this blog are Catholic. Those who aren’t, are Christian. Consistent with our faith, we are pro-life, treasuring the human person from the point of conception to natural death. 

Some of us, like me, although pro-life don’t do a lot about addressing the issue, other than with occasional discussion…probably with those who are already in agreement with us (again…that’s me). There are others who have the conviction to do something about it. Those things could be regular prayer for the unborn, working at a pregnancy crisis center, or going on the March of Life. 

Then there are those who have the courage to do the tough stuff, i.e., commuting 4 hours round trip every Wednesday, to spend 6-8 hours praying and promoting life outside an inner-city abortion clinic. That would be Mark Houck, founder of The Kings Men and good friend to Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Pittsburgh. 

On Friday, September 23rd, 20+ armed FBI agents surrounded Mark’s house for a 7AM raid in Bucks County, PA. With them pounding on the door, Mark’s 7 young children were crying frantically. When Mark opened the door, he, his wife, and children were faced with rifles in their faces. For what you might ask…a dispute at an abortion clinic that Mark had months earlier, that was already thrown out of court. Check the details here.

Just fill your car with gas or go to the grocery store…we live in a country where inflation is out of control. Crime, especially violent crime, has risen dramatically over the last 2 years. With the 200,000 pouring across our southern border every month, we have record levels of illegal drugs (causing record number of overdoses in our country), human trafficking, and known terrorists…all as documented by government statistics. 

So with the above chaos in our country as a backdrop (and I could include more), with so many not facing any consequences for their crimes…Mark Houck, a man dedicated to ministry for his entire adult life, is treated like this, in front of his family. Just another example of how Christians and conservatives are treated totally differently than others in such circumstances. To be clear…Mark’s experience is further evidence of the weaponizing of the Department of Justice and FBI. Sad days in America. 

I have two suggestions in relation to Mark, in addition to reading the article above:

  1. Please consider donating to Mark and his family here
  2. Contact your Senator and Congressperson and express your outrage. Just do an internet search on how to contact them and it will come up. 

You may ask what all this has to do with our faith. Depending on your perspective, maybe it does or doesn’t. To me, enough is enough. I can’t believe this has happened to someone I know personally. We live in a country where our liberties and religious freedoms are openly under attack. Please join me in praying for our country and discerning how you can make a difference. We (including me) can no longer stand on the sidelines. 

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