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by Matthew Kelly
I'M NOT OK.YOU'RE NOT OK. BUT IT'S OK!
by Father Bob Sherry
by Father Hayward
As I look around the world today, more and more Christians are being seriously persecuted because of their faith. And yes, here and now, in 2015, Christians in various parts of the world are being killed just because they are Christian.
Sometime this week, do a quick Internet search of “Christian persecution today,” and you will be amazed how our brothers and sisters in Christ are being treated around the world.
In comparison, our faith can seem like a cheap and easy faith. But I am sure that is going to change in the coming years. It is going to become more and more difficult to live out the Christian life in the midst of our modern secular society. Our faith is going to be challenged in expected and unexpected ways. Are we ready?
So this month, I would like to encourage you in two ways. First, let us expand the geography of our prayer to include Christians being persecuted around the world. Second, let us return to the ancient practice of fasting, however simply, so that through it God can strengthen us in mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t know where to start, start by simply saying no to yourself once each day.
One month of the year is already gone. Are you moving toward the goals God has placed in your heart for this year?
What if it were OK for us not to be OK, not to be perfect and have it all together? What if we could honestly just be who God made us to be, flaws and all, and simply take a break from all our games and protective habits?
— From “I’m Not OK. You’re Not OK. But It’s OK!” by Chris Padgett
While I don't know you personally, I am 100 percent confident that you are not OK. Life is so difficult, with familial obligations, neighborhood drama, work responsibilities, and personal struggles all seeming to overwhelm us without relief or restraint. We might want to pretend all is well, but I have a feeling if you were to stop and just ask yourself how you are doing, the vast majority of you would say that you are hanging on by a thread. You are not OK, and yet you continue to press forward, concluding like everyone else that this is probably as good as it gets.
I remember hearing about a very well-known theologian who got a divorce, and the feeling many of us had was one of utter shock. In many ways I thought his marriage and family life was one that was worthy of imitation, only to find out that he and his wife were not OK. In fact, so many friends of mine who have been brought up in the Church have either gotten divorced or have remained in marriages in which they often feel unloved, unheard, and unable to move beyond basic tolerance of one another.
You are not OK, and the braver you are in facing this truth, the faster you can find and and embrace a solution. Whether it is financial chaos brought on by unforeseen events or poor money management, or familial bickering, many of you feel that it is almost pointless to try anymore, since nothing ever changes. There is a desperation to your day as you wonder if you will get the job you've applied for, the raise in salary that you deserve, the attention from a spouse who seems to find interest in everyone but you, and when these moments end in loss, it often seems we knew failure was awaiting us at every turn. You are not OK as you hear people speak poorly about your family and make remarks that hurt you personally, and as you struggle internally with insecurities and depression, knowing that you are not what you want to be. You are not OK in more ways than you could have imagined, but I want you to know that it's OK.
What if life could be lived differently? What if an awareness of why we struggle, along with a hope of how to achieve victory, could actually be attained? What if it were OK for us not to be OK, not to be perfect and have it all together? What if we could honestly just be who God made us to be, flaws and all, and simply take a break from all our games and protective habits?
Some people are scared by change. They would rather continue a habit even when it no longer serves a helpful purpose. Some people are bored by monotony. Do you find that setting boundaries or limits is beneficial? When you rid your life of a bad habit, do you have a good habit to put in its place?
Here are several “good habit” suggestions from folks who wrote to me:
Dynamic Catholic also has a daily Prayer Process that can help us identify the impact of our daily rituals, both conscious and unconscious. A daily conversation with God, listening and speaking, will bring surprisingly revealing insights.
As a pastor, I am very grateful for the resources that Dynamic Catholic makes available for the Catholic Church in America.
Every summer, my parish, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Kenosha, Wisconsin, hosts the largest Catholic parish festival in town. In the summer of 2013, I decided to offer a good Catholic book to people who stopped by our evangelization booth. Previously, Dynamic Catholic had sent me a copy of Rediscover Catholicism. This book seemed like a great fit for evangelization, so I ordered 50 more copies. Offering them at the booth worked out well, and it motivated me to host a book club using the discussion questions on DynamicCatholic.com.
I shared this effort with our pastoral council, and we decided to hand out copies of Rediscover Catholicism at all the 2013 Christmas Masses. It definitely made an impact, and we received good feedback from people who took and read the book.
We decided to offer another book on Father’s Day in 2014. Working with Dynamic Catholic, we chose The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. To make sure we achieved the most impact possible, I preached about the book once a month, we ran bulletin announcements to encourage people to read the appropriate chapter for the next week, and we put discussion questions that corresponded with that week’s reading in the Sunday bulletin.
In years past, I have included a Christmas letter in our bulletin the Sunday before Christmas. Two years ago, my Christmas letter consisted of drawings. This last Christmas, I decided to use the Four Signs as a basis for the Christmas letter. I looked online for inspiration for each of the Four Signs, and then I sketched each image and wrote a Christmas-themed message for each sign.
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic is a profound tool for parish growth and development. I am not sure how we will continue to use it, but we will—it is too good to let lie on a shelf.
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.