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by Matthew Kelly
The Rhythm of Life
by Father Bob Sherry
Looking back on another year that seems to have zoomed past us, I cannot help but feel an intense gratitude. The team at Dynamic Catholic is amazing. My growing family is a constant source of comfort and amusement. The crowds that continue to show up in cities across the country for the Living Every Day with Passion & Purpose events seem to have more energy and enthusiasm with every passing month. The priests and parishes, directors of religious education and youth ministers, catechists and ordinary Catholics who are partnering with us to make their parishes more dynamic are truly inspiring. But the people who inspire me the most . . . the people I am most grateful for . . . are the Dynamic Catholic Ambassadors!
In just a few short years The Ambassador’s Club has become one of the most impactful and influential groups of Catholics in America. They are changing the fabric of Catholicism in America by giving millions of people (literally millions) a chance to discover the genius of our Catholic faith.
If you are an Ambassador, thank you! If you are not, become one today! The future really is in our hands, and if enough of us get together and do our little part, we will continue to have an enormous impact for God.
May God bless you and all those you love this Christmas. You have our hard work and prayers as we strive to serve you and your parishes.
P.S. In November Dynamic Catholic released its first-ever Christmas album, O Emmanuel. We believe that everything we do as Catholics should be world class. We are delighted to announce that this album reached #1 on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Albums chart the first week it was released. This is an enormous accomplishment, especially for our first effort. Order a copy today!
It constantly amazes me that men and women wander the earth marveling at the highest mountains, the deepest oceans, the whitest sands, the most exotic islands, the most intriguing birds of the air and fish of the sea—and all the time never stop to marvel at themselves and realize their infinite potential as human beings.
— From “The Rhythm of Life” by Matthew Kelly
Do You Really Know What You Want?
Several years ago I found myself standing before a class of high school seniors in Cape May, on the Jersey shore, in the United States. I had been invited to speak to them about life beyond high school graduation, but I found myself more interested in what they might have to say than in what their teachers thought they needed to hear.
I began by asking them how long it would be until they graduated. In a burst of excitement and energy, they replied in unison, “Eleven days.”
What I really wanted was to enter into the unbounded territories of the hopes and dreams these young men and women held about their future. There were eighty-four students before me that morning, representatives of the future. I was curious. I wanted to know what they yearned for. I wanted to be invited into their hearts and minds.
I invited myself by asking, “What do you want from life?”
For a few moments there was silence. Then, as they realized that my question was not rhetorical, a young man called out, “I want to be rich.” I asked him why he wanted to be rich. “So I can do whatever I want,” was his reply. I asked him how much was enough. “A million dollars,” he said, and I remember wondering how many people think that a million dollars will change their lives.
Then I raised the question again.
A young woman said she wanted to be a doctor. I asked her why. “So that I can help people, relieve suffering, and make a lot of money,” she replied. I wished her well and hoped she would be able to keep her reasons in that order as the years passed.
I asked the question again: “What else do you want from life?”
A young man toward the back called out, “I want a beautiful wife.” His friends giggled, and I asked him if he had been successful in locating one yet. He said that he hadn’t, and I sympathized with him, explaining that I had not, either.
Then I asked him if he knew what he was looking for in a woman. He said he did. So I explained that the best way to attract that kind of person was to become that kind of person.
Now, the room was filled with a profound silence as I asked the question again: “What else do you want from life?”
After a few moments of that silence a crowd exudes when it is almost exhausted of input, a young lady said, “I want to travel.”
I encouraged her to travel as early in her adult life as possible, explaining that “travel opens our minds to different cultures, philosophies, and worldviews. Travel opens our hearts to the people of foreign lands and their different traditions and creeds. Travel dissolves the stains of prejudice that infect our hearts and societies. Money spent on travel is money well spent on an education that you will never receive from a book or in a classroom.”
Now, I asked the question one more time: “What do you want from life?” But the crowd was quiet, and exhausted, and still.
I was surprised. I was disappointed. I felt an ache within me.
In less than twenty minutes, eighty-four high school seniors had become exhausted of their hopes, dreams, plans, and ambitions for the future. If that was not completely true, then whatever they had failed to share was either not worth sharing or they lacked the confidence to share it. Seven students had been able to summarize the dreams of all eighty- four. Was I still in the land of infinite dreams and opportunities? I wondered.
If I had asked them to tell me what was wrong with the education system, our discussion might have lasted for hours. If I had asked them about their favorite sporting highlight, or television sitcom, the discussion might have lasted all day. Have we become more interested in spectator sports and television sitcoms than in our own future?
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads . . .
(“’Twas the night before Christmas,” Clement Clarke Moore)
What visions danced in your head as you awaited the wondrous night of nights as a little child? Your own bicycle? A drum? A Pac-Man game? When did your hope and vision for the real meaning of Christmas become more mature?
Now do you have dreams of whom to marry or how to raise your children to glorify God? Dreams of what you’ll become when you graduate college? Dreams of owning your own business? Dreams of retiring? Dreams of spending more time with the people you love?
This autumn, did you lie on the lush grass on the side of a hill and look through the falling leaves to see shapes in the drifting clouds? Did you see an angel form? The outline of a horse? The silhouette of the Eiffel Tower? What did you see?
God created us with vivid imaginations so we can dream of how God’s kingdom on Earth can be as it is in heaven.
Here are my three dreams for our Catholic Church:
1) Rephrasing Jesus, I dream that all may be One, as Jesus is in his father and as he is in us. I dream that this whole world may be re-energized and united by the love of Jesus for us and our love for one another.
2) I dream that our Catholic Church may be so re-energized that it is recognized as the bridge-builder within families, and among parishes, nations, races, religious denominations, and cultures. With whom can you build a bridge?
3) I dream that all people, starting with us Catholics, can quote and live out a verse of the Bible that gives our lives passion and purpose, direction and fulfillment, guiding us into God’s kingdom. What is your verse? (Mine is Matthew 6:33.)
What is your vision for Christmas? What is your sugar-plum?
Have a blessed Advent and Christmas.
Be Bold. Be Catholic.®
I didn’t want to do it. I had just finished reading the last section of Resisting Happiness as I sat in the lobby of the hair salon. And God said, “Leave the book here.”
As a member of The Ambassador’s Club for Dynamic Catholic, I had just received a free copy of this book. My mental response was something along the lines of, “Seriously? But I really enjoyed this book. I really let it sink in. I’ve made actual changes to my life because of this book—I’m getting up when the alarm goes off, I’m tackling projects that I’ve been avoiding, I’m reading Scripture, I’m exercising regularly, and I’m planning to read this book again and again to keep the momentum going. So you can’t mean that I should leave it. I mean . . . seriously?”
“Leave it here.”
So I left the little yellow book on the side table.
The next time I went to the salon, it was still on the table. How many people had casually picked it up and read even one section? None? Ten? One hundred? I’ll never know.
It just so happens that I was at the salon again today (months after I left the book), and it was not on the side table. Had one of the hairdressers ultimately borrowed it for a more detailed reading? Had someone who was lonely or afraid or broken been comforted by the message of the book? Did it end up in a garbage can? Again, I’ll never know.
And it doesn’t matter, really. What matters is that the little yellow book had helped bring me to a point of hearing God and allowing him to work through me in a seemingly small way. Where it goes from there is up to him.
This simple act was, in fact, God pushing me to be a missionary: to share my knowledge and love of God with others. Although being a missionary is a fundamental aspect of our faith, it is not something that comes easily to me at all. But this simple thing that God pushed me to do—just leaving a book where someone else might find and benefit from it—THAT I could do.
In fact, the resources at Dynamic Catholic have been key elements in my efforts to be a missionary. And that’s why I joined The Ambassador’s Club and give to Dynamic Catholic. When someone expresses a spiritual need or some confusion about our faith, it’s a perfect opportunity to follow up with a gift from my stash of Dynamic Catholic books and CDs. It lets the person know that I was really listening to them, have a sincere interest, and am willing to continue the discussion. This is just a small and simple way of being a missionary, but if God can feed thousands with just a few loaves and fishes, there’s no telling what he can do with my small and simple efforts.
You know, it’s funny. I was resisting God’s request that I share the book Resisting Happiness. But when I finally stopped resisting, I was, in fact, happier by having done as he asked. I’ll have to remember that.
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.