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by Matthew Kelly
by Father Bob Sherry
Too often the world we live in is cynical and skeptical and filled with negative humor, but among people of all faith, and even among those of no faith, the mood in our culture warms in these weeks leading up to Christmas. Somewhere deep inside, we all hope. The world sends us messages like, “hope is for fools,” or “don’t hope and you won’t be disappointed.” But hope is central to the Christian life.
The opening lines and closing lines of a book can take weeks to get just right. I closed Rediscover Catholicism with the following paragraphs, because it was the message of hope that I wanted readers to take forth into their families, parishes, and the world . . .
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Hope is one of those things that you can’t buy, but that will be freely given to you if you ask. Hope is the one thing people cannot live without. Hope is a thing of beauty.
I hope . . .
I hope I can live up to the gifts and talents God has given me. I hope I can have the courage to be a true friend, a good father, and a loving husband. I hope I never stop striving to become the-best-version-of-myself. I hope I will continue to take time to listen to the voice of God each day. I hope I will have the courage to follow where his voice leads me. I hope we can build a world where our children can grow free and strong. And I hope we grow wise enough to realize that we have no better ally than Catholicism in achieving these hopes.
I hope . . . and that is a wonderful thing. Join me in that hope and together we will awaken all men and women to discover the incredible dream God has for their lives and for the world.”
Everything we do offers people hope or robs them of hope. Our virtue conveys hope. Our generosity, kindness, gentleness, and thoughtfulness all convey hope to a world desperate to believe that the things God promises can and should be hoped for.
This Christmas, let us, as Christians, once again bring hope to the world in our own way and in our own place.
May God bless you and all those you love,
Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Hope is one of those things that you can’t buy, but that will be freely given to you if you ask.
— From “Rediscover Catholicism” by Matthew Kelly
For a long time I have wanted to write this book, and yet, at the same time I wish I had another fifty years to prepare. In this book I have not tried to answer all the questions that surround Catholicism, nor have I tried to cover all the controversial issues. This book is not, strictly speaking, a theological work, and it is not a book that promises to deliver monumental virtue with seductive ease. These are merely reflections on my experiences as a Catholic and on Catholicism at this time. I have simply tried to share what I have witnessed, learned, discovered, and experienced about Catholicism so far in my short life. In doing so, I have attempted to demonstrate that Catholicism is an incredible learning system, a lifestyle, and a spiritual odyssey that God the Father invites us to through the Catholic Church. It is because we respond to that invitation that an adventure of epic proportions begins, one that will leave no corner of our lives as it was before.
The problem with books is that they are never really finished; they are only ever abandoned. You could keep writing and rewriting the same book for your whole life and never be fully satisfied with it. As I read back over these pages I realize there is so much more that I would like to share with you. They seem so inadequate when compared to the love and affection that I have for Catholicism. I hope the words on these pages are a celebration of faith, a celebration of all it is and all it can be. I hope that as we read them and apply them to our lives, our lives in turn will become a celebration of Catholicism. More than anything I hope these words have filled you with hope and renewed your enthusiasm for your spiritual life.
On the desk in my office I have a Post-it note that reads simply, “Something wonderful is about to happen!” It has been there for a long time now. I have thought of having these words printed in calligraphy and putting them in a nice frame, but there is something powerful about this simple Post-it note.
I believe something wonderful is about to happen. I believe it for my life, I believe it for your life, and I believe it for the life of the Church. I pray that you and I will make ourselves radically available to God so that he can use us to make it happen. You see, God doesn’t necessarily use the most talented people, he doesn’t necessarily use the people in positions of power and authority, and he doesn’t necessarily use those who are the best educated. Very often education, power, authority, and talent can become the prideful impediments that keep us from doing God’s work. What type of person does God always use in powerful ways? Whom has God always used throughout history to do his work in the world? The people who make themselves available to him.
God uses those who make themselves available. How available are you willing to make yourself to God?
It is true that the Church finds herself in the midst of a difficult time in her life. The dilemmas we face as a Church are a cause of sadness for all who love the Church. In mythology, for thousands of years it has been believed that the darkest hour is right before the dawn, and that in the hour of greatest darkness the great heroes of the new times are being born. The darkness that the Church is passing through at the moment will not last. There is a light at the end of it all.
Sometimes people ask me what stops me from becoming depressed or falling into despair. Two things, I tell them. First, I know the renewal that the Church so desperately needs is not my sole responsibility, and second, hope. Where does the hope come from? What feeds that hope? It comes from my God and from my neighbor. My hope comes from God, who loves me, and from my neighbor, who loves me.
In a world filled with so much cynicism, the supernatural virtues—Faith, Hope, and Love—are often laughed at and dismissed as foolish and naive. Some people say that hope only sets you up for disappointment, and because of that hope is a bad thing.
Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Hope is one of those things that you can’t buy, but that will be freely given to you if you ask. Hope is the one thing people cannot live without. Hope is a thing of beauty.
I hope . . . and that is a wonderful thing. Join me in that hope and together we will awaken all men and women to discover the incredible dream God has for their lives and for the world.
Was Chicken Little correct? Is the sky falling in? Is the world being violently blown apart?
In the midst of all this chaos, Pope Francis has called for an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. (Learn more about the Year of Mercy and find resources here.)
Our Holy Father calls mercy “the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”
If it were a Year of Justice, we should get what we deserve. But Papa calls for a Year of Mercy, so we don’t get what we deserve!
We pray that in the midst of all this chaos, we will find islands of mercy. And we are gifted with several such islands this month, shining in the afterglow of Thanksgiving:
– Dynamic Catholic’s two new books: Beautiful Mercy and Rediscover Jesus
– The season of Advent as we prepare for the return of the Prince of Peace
– Dynamic Catholic’s free email program Best Advent Ever™ Rediscover Mercy
– The celebration of Saint Nicholas (December 6)
– The feast of The Immaculate Conception (December 8)
– Extra hours of reconciliation in many parishes
– The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12)
– The feast of Saint John of the Cross (December 14)
– Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses
– Your own personal and family islands of mercy
Some of us recently found islands of mercy on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. We all believed that the love and joy we felt on that journey could be continued in our little islands back home. Our prayers and our mercy will prove Chicken Little wrong again. It is not a time of destruction, but a time of mercy.
Have your best Advent ever!
Just think for a moment . . . When was the last time you or your children participated in a life-changing Catholic program?
Last spring we released DECISION POINT©, the Dynamic Catholic Confirmation Experience and the first of our Catholic Moments programs. Because of the generous support of Dynamic Catholic Ambassadors, DECISION POINT is now the most used Confirmation program in America. It is available to every Catholic and every parish in the United States for free. And it is changing thousands of young lives.
Meet Julia. Last year, Julia went through DECISION POINT. It had a profound impact on her life, and engaged her in a personal and powerful conversation about the genius of Catholicism. Julia’s story is not unique. Watch this short video to see how the generosity of our Ambassadors is changing lives.
Want to share your story? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Making time for each other isn’t that difficult if you think about how to anchor the time around already established routines at home.
Life is short, and the holidays fly by. Don’t waste this time texting your friends about how crazy your family is making you (even if it’s true). Do your best to be present to them, seek to understand and to love.
Waking up early is a war. It is a battle against the self. You are your enemy. And there is only one way to win the war: Discipline.
When you choose to be the-best-version-of-yourself, when you exercise virtue and strength of character, you impact the world more than you will ever know.