Our phone system is currently unavailable. Please email our Mission team at info@DynamicCatholic.com.
There are no products in your cart.
Meeting people where they are . . . Leading them to where God calls them to be!
A free, daily email program to help you experience Christmas on a whole new level.
Take your children on a faith-filled musical adventure. Get the new BLESSED Music Album!
by Matthew Kelly
by Father Bob Sherry
What gifts has God poured out upon you lately? The truth is, God is constantly sustaining us with his gifts… but all too often we are not aware of how generously God is providing for us in so many ways.
About a week before Christmas I had a profound encounter with my son, Walter. He came to me while I was working in my office at home and said, “Daddy, I need a meeting.” He often hears me saying I am going to a meeting and has been very curious about what a meeting is. This had been explained to him a few days earlier and now he was requesting his own meeting. I invited him to sit on the chair opposite my desk and asked him what he would like to discuss in this meeting.
He said, “Daddy, I have a question.”
“OK” I replied, “What is your question?”
“Daddy, if Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, why do I get presents?”
Wow. What a fabulous question for a three year old. He sat there now looking up at me, wide eyed, waiting expectantly for the answer.
I told him that Jesus loved us so much that he wanted to share everything with us, and Walter seemed satisfied with that answer.
But I have thought about it for a few weeks now. Our lives are filled with so many gifts – most of which we take for granted – and they all flow to us through Jesus.
This month I want to encourage you to get grateful. Take time in your daily prayer to get into a place of profound gratitude, and then try to stay there throughout your days.
January is behind us. It went by so quickly. What great things are you going to accomplish this year? Are you 1/12th of the way towards achieving your goals?
True life really begins when the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit begin to grow in your heart and life.
— From “Nine Words” by Dr. Allen Hunt
God’s destiny for you is a life in the Spirit. Saint Paul describes that destiny as fruit, the fruit of God’s Spirit. Jesus offers that kind of life to you. How does that happen? True life really begins when the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit begin to grow in your heart and life. As those fruit grow, Jesus will change you and me from the inside out.
These nine fruit of God’s Spirit are the focus of this study. Notice that the apostle Paul says “fruit” of the Spirit rather than “fruits.” He uses the singular, not the plural. He does this because God does not give you just one or a few of the fruit. Rather, God begins to bring all of these fruit to reality in your life as you seek Him. That is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. We do not pick and choose the fruit; God intends to give them all to each of us. After all, they are your destiny. These nine words capture the-best-version-of-yourself.
These fruit may grow at different rates and at different times in our spiritual lives, but each of us can and will experience growth in all of them to some degree. In other words, when you live in the Spirit of God, you will begin to watch love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control blossom in your life. That is how you will know that you are growing into the best-version-of-yourself: You will notice more of God’s fruit in your life.
In the third century, Emperor Claudius II didn’t allow his troops to marry. He believed that a soldier’s performance in battle would be more focused if he was not worried about his wife and children back home. Additionally, polygamy was more popular and culturally acceptable in 3rd Century Rome than marriage between one man and one woman. As a young priest Father Valentine opposed both the Emperor’s edict and society’s pagan ideals, and so he married man and woman—teaching that marriage was sacred, life-long, and to be embraced.
At the time, Christians were captured, tortured, and martyred for practicing their faith. Despite the risk, Fr. Valentine’s heroic love for God and his people empowered him to valiantly share the Gospel until his martyrdom on February 14, AD 270. While in captivity, one of his appointed judges had a blind daughter who came to him for help. He prayed over her and she was miraculously cured leading to her father’s conversion to Christianity. Legend holds that Valentine’s last words on earth were in a note to the judge’s daughter, ending with the phrase: “From Your Valentine.”
Whether you are a priest, an emperor, a judge, a single person, or married, there are times when you must decide what actions lead to the best version of yourself. Sometimes that means laying down your life.
Saint Valentine is the patron saint of “lovers,” because he loved selflessly and unconditionally to the end of his life, and beyond. Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” (John 15:12-13).
If you are married or thinking of marriage, I pray you do get a good sense of God in your life. If you want love, you want God. “God is Love.” (I John 4:16) Love might be expressed in a box of chocolates, but that kind of love will melt. Love that is strong has laid down its life and will live and work forever. Be your best; be a Valentine. Be Bold. Be Catholic.
Molly. Why Molly? Her parents came for visiting day and I leaned shyly against a bunk bed while she embraced her father, having not seen him for 4 weeks. He asked her questions about camp; what is your favorite thing to do here? Is the food good? Are people nice? She answered enthusiastically; waving her arms, shaking her bob haircut, laughing through her slur. Then he asked her, Molly, who is your best friend at camp? And she stopped waving her hands and bobbing her head. She became very still and serious. Then she pointed at me. Rhea, she said softly, is my best friend at camp.
I was so excessively touched that I felt like she had punched me in the heart. Her father looked at me and nodded sort of disinterested and continued on with the questions. Molly and I lived in the same bunkhouse and I was one of three staff in her cabin of young women with disabilities. I hadn’t wanted the position working with older girls, but I was so desperate to get away from the senseless life I had created for myself after three years of college, that I accepted a summer job at a camp for young people with special needs in the back country of Pennsylvania without batting an eye lash. Life in residential summer camp is not real life. Especially there. The place was 7 weeks of madness; young people of varying emotional, behavioral and cognitive disabilities living in community with each other and staff from all over the world….all with absolutely no cell phone reception (at least for me!). We were “on duty” almost around the clock, only having a day off every two weeks. We shared every meal together, we shared a sleeping space, we shared two small showers. Our cabin was especially high needs; some of our girls could be as violent as others were lovely but all of them full of life, reaching out to us to share that life, pulling us in to give life back to them. We were constantly braiding hair, up in the middle of the night with one of our girls, talking some of our rough ones down from an angry outburst, engulfed in tight and heartfelt hugs, encouraging our girls when they struggled and learning to love them in the most infuriating, exhausting, joyful, funny and peaceful time in my life.
But summers always end, and I found myself back in my college apartment for senior year, 200 hundred feet from the loudest frat bar on campus and surrounded almost entirely by friends and peers “living the college dream.” It was back to a culture of partying, hooking up, skipping class whenever possible and trying to “live while we were young.” My heart was broken. I had spent 7 weeks so far away from that garbage. 7 weeks surrounded by beauty and love and friendship and laughter and genuine hearts. 7 weeks living in absolute relationship with the people around me. 7 weeks of catching my breath as I looked out at the mountains and could hear my girls laughing and chattering in the background. 7 weeks of God speaking softly but clearly- “You asked for a way out and I gave you one. Look around you. Of course I exist! This is what love looks like. This is what you were made for.” Why Molly? Or any of my girls for that matter? Beautiful girls….that our society has made a blatant effort to eliminate and marginalize because of their disabilities. Beautiful creatures of God. Why Molly? Because Molly, like many other people with disabilities, has the gift of presence. The gift of friendship. The gift of loving you as you are, no matter where you are, no matter where you’ve been. A simple and pure love, with no strings attached. A love a lot like the Father’s.
I thank God for His infinite mercy on me throughout my life but especially that summer. That after years of hearing his Word and receiving Him in the Eucharist, after years of my family’s valiant effort to educate me in the faith, after years of sitting in beautiful churches staring blankly ahead, after years of listening but not hearing, seeing but not believing, God woke me up. It wasn’t enough for me to show up on Sunday and stay awake through the hour. He wanted a relationship. He wanted to love me as I was, no matter where I was, no matter where I’d been. But as Matt Fradd would say, God loved me too much to leave me as I was- living senselessly, staring blankly, standing shyly on the sidelines while life happened in front of me. I had asked for an out and He gave me one. That out was straight into His arms; that were always open even when I was sprinting in the other direction. Everyday is a fight, to run into His love instead of away from it; to open my arms to relationship with others around me instead of sprinting in the other direction. But it is a fight that brings me great joy. Love is worth fighting for. Relationship is worth fighting for. God is Love and He wants a relationship with each and every one of us.
Thank you Lord, for the gentle ones like Molly, who inspire us to pursue the Love worth dying for. Thank you to the gentle ones, for reminding us of the Love we were made for. I will never forget you.
**Molly is not the girl’s real name.
Want to share your story? Write us at email@example.com
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.