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by Matthew Kelly
Messy & Foolish
by Father Bob Sherry
This past November, I had an opportunity to meet Pope Francis when I traveled to Rome with a group of Dynamic Catholic Ambassadors. His goodness and love for people is evident in everything he does. I was struck by his presence. I was struck by the enormity of his daily mission. I was struck by his patience.
I would like to invite you to meet Pope Francis in your own way. At Dynamic Catholic, we have released two books over the past couple of years, The Joy of the Gospel and Pope Francis: A Living Legacy. You can request a free copy (just pay shipping) of these by clicking on the links. Get to know this man. Get to know his heart, not just the sound bites that the media takes out of context.
The second way I would like to encourage you to encounter Pope Francis is by praying for him. Nobody can imagine the weight he carries in his heart and mind on a daily basis. Nobody can imagine the pressure he is constantly under. Let us pray for him together.
Finally, I would like to invite you on the Dynamic Catholic pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, and Florence this November. Click here for details. Last year’s group had a life-changing experience, and I hope you will pray about making this sacred journey.
May God fill you with the joy that Pope Francis invites us to share in,
It is time for big, bold changes. It’s time to get out of maintenance mode and go on a mission. It’s time to go! You exist to go out, to be shared, to love and be loved.
— From “Messy & Foolish” by Matthew Warner
There were no pews or seats, only cold, wet sand. But that wasn’t going to stop three million energetic young people from celebrating Mass that day on Copacabana Beach in Brazil.
“Go!” said Pope Francis. “You have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community.”
As the 2013 World Youth Day festivities came to a close, the pope was kicking everyone out—but not without marching orders.
“I want a mess. I want trouble in the dioceses! I want people to go out! I want the Church to go out into the streets! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, installation, comfortableness, clericalism, being shut in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions exist to go out!”
It’s Time to Make a Mess
When you know you have something really special, you can’t help but want to share it with everyone you meet. And when that something happens to be God’s honest truth—the Gospel, the secret to a meaningful and joyful life—you’d think it would be spreading like wildfire.
But it’s not spreading like wildfire. In fact, the fire seems to be going out. We must be doing something wrong.
In the next generation, half the pews will be empty. And not because of something that will happen, but because of something that has happened. A generation is already missing and so are their children. And they show no signs of coming back any time soon. The inertia alone ensures that the situation will get worse before it gets better. It’s a crisis of massive proportions, the severity of which has been masked by positive personal anecdotes and clouded in an ambiguous “hope” that, in the end, things will turn out fine anyway.
Sure, we can point to many bright spots worth celebrating within the Church today, but the bleeding continues. None have yet reversed the mass exodus of modern man from church.
We’re in the midst of an identity crisis. We’ve forgotten we were made to live courageously. We’ve forgotten who we are. We’ve forgotten we’ve been charged with a radical mission—a mission to turn the world on its head.
There is indeed hope. But it’s not a vague, passive hope, where we stand on the sidelines and wait for God to swoop in. Rather, it’s a hope intimately tangled up in our human messiness and fueled by our weakness. It’s a fool’s hope.
It is time for big, bold changes. It’s time to get out of maintenance mode and go on a mission. It’s time to go! You exist to go out, to be shared, to love and be loved. The Church exists to engulf all of humanity, not just the poor sinners within its walls. But unfortunately, whatever we’re doing now simply isn’t working.
There is a movement afoot, though—a movement that, by God’s grace, can turn the tide.
It is a movement of people inspired by the opportunity of the information age, prompted by the poverties of modernity, and frustrated by the status quo. It is a movement fueled by big ideas and an exciting vision for the Church. A movement of people who know that the dawn of a new renaissance is possible in our lifetime.
These people are already hard at work, through many diverse efforts across the country, as faithful partners in this new evangelization. And more people are joining this movement every day.
But what makes their evangelization efforts so successful when so many others are failing? The secret is that they begin where we must all begin—with a mess and a fool.
Are you concerned that the genius of Christianity is not being taken seriously? Are you as frustrated as I am that so many continue to walk away from it without ever really knowing it? Are you ready to start a new era of evangelization unlike the world has ever seen? Good. Now let’s get started.
Pope Francis was right. It’s time to make a mess. It’s time to change the world. And we are just the fools to do it.
Dynamic Catholic often refers to “the beauty and genius of Catholicism.” Would you say that Ash Wednesday and Lent are examples of that genius? What about the four signs of a dynamic Catholic? I’d say that the four signs and Lent were made for each other.
First Sign: Prayer
Lent is a time of prayer: to learn how to pray, to take extra time to pray, to learn to pray better. Even the Gospel for Ash Wednesday has Jesus speaking about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Second Sign: Study
For the second year in a row, Dynamic Catholic is offering the free email program Best Lent Ever®, which is based on Matthew Kelly’s new bestseller Rediscover Jesus. This will be like prayer and study rolled into one!
Third Sign: Generosity
One form of generosity is almsgiving. Lent teaches us that the most generous thing you can do is lay down your life for your friends. Another form of generosity is to place all you have and want into your open hands and pray to God: “I’ll give what you take, and I’ll take what you give.” Now we are rolling prayer, study, and generosity into one.
Fourth Sign: Evangelization
Prayer, study, and generosity during Lent are primarily for our own spiritual enrichment. But when you practice them with integrity, others cannot help but observe and wonder, “What goodness has come over you!” Maybe a seeker has become a believer! All of the four signs become one.
May this be your best Lent ever!
We have been so blessed by the Best Advent Ever™ program! It’s changed our lives.
A couple of Sundays ago, we were at Mass at an out-of-town church. I sat near the choir so I could be close to my wife, who had been invited as a guest singer. When it came time for the first collection, I pulled out a $20 bill to put in the basket. But the baskets never made it to the choir area, so I held on to the money. I put the bill into my shirt pocket, hoping I might be able to figure out how to donate it after Mass. When Mass ended, my wife and I visited with friends and even talked to the presiding priest about his homily.
When we got into the car to head to the hotel, I realized I still had the money in my shirt pocket. I thought about bringing it back the following Sunday, but I also thought that I might be able to give it to someone in need as a “special act of mercy,” as mentioned in Best Advent Ever.
A Special Act of Mercy
We ended up stopping at a grocery store. As we walked in, there was a homeless man sitting right by the door. He was not begging; he was just resting. I heard God say to me, “There you go. Here’s your chance to show mercy.”
I pulled out the $20 bill. But as I approached the scruffy man, I couldn’t help feeling that he would probably just buy liquor or drugs with the money. I heard the Best Advent Ever teaching playing over and over in my head, and I went ahead and offered the $20 bill to the man.
I felt like I was doing a good thing. This man was obviously in real need—he was grimy; he wore dirty, torn, and tattered clothes; and his bare, calloused feet looked like they were causing him pain. I could hardly make out his face underneath his bushy beard, or his eyes and very tan forehead underneath his wild sandy-blonde hair.
I Was Shocked by What Happened Next
Barely acknowledging me, he simply looked at the bill and said in a strikingly and very uncharacteristically clear and peaceful voice, “I have enough for today.” His words penetrated my heart, played over and over in my mind, and then changed me. I walked into the store basically in shock, thinking, “Well, that’s not at all what I thought would happen.”
That homeless man changed my life more than my $20 bill ever could have changed his life. As I worry about how to get by sometimes, I now try to adopt the “I have enough for today” approach. In my attempt to do a special act of mercy, I was the one who ended up blessed. As it says in Scripture, “. . . all things work for good, for those who love God, . . . ” (Romans 8:28).
Thank you, Dynamic Catholic, for opening up our hearts to God’s will to make us the-best-version-of-ourselves.
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.