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by Matthew Kelly
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
by Father Bob Sherry
by Laura Valdez, Alaska
About six months ago a friend of mine died. He was the father of two little ones and it was a desperately sad situation. I have always thought it must be very hard to be told you are dying, and know you are going to die leaving young children behind.
This week his three year old son got into an elevator and as soon as they stepped in, he turned to his mom and said, “Daddy was just here!” His mother looked at him puzzled and asked, “What do you mean?” The boy said again, “Daddy was just here, I can smell him.”
Someone must have just been in the elevator with the same cologne that his dad used to wear, and the little three year old boy recognized the cologne.
The mother tried to explain, but the boy was adamant. “Come on, let’s get out. Hurry! If we are quick we will find him. Daddy is here somewhere.”
God is always near. Sometimes we know it for sure. Other times he seems far away, and we doubt it. Sometimes we sense he had his hand on our shoulder guiding. But mostly it is when we look back that we realize that God has been looking out for us all along – that he has indeed been at our side all along.
Take a few minutes this week to look back as we move forward into this New Year. When you look back, recognize the times in your past when God has worked powerfully in your life.
We remember how God has worked in our PAST, we are given HOPE that he will work in our PRESENT and in our FUTURE.
“God is with us.” This is the message of Christmas. Let us carry it throughout the year, and recognize his presence in every moment, in every person, and in every situation.
This prayer is a game changer for you spiritually, and a game changer for every aspect of your life.
— From “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic Book” by Matthew Kelly
I promise if you apply yourself to this practice of prayer it will change your life, and it will not take one hundred years for you to realize it. Commit yourself to the Prayer Process for ten minutes each day for thirty days, and by the end of the thirty days I am confident you will be convinced.
This prayer is a game changer for you spiritually, and a game changer for every aspect of your life. If every Catholic in America prayed in this way for a few minutes each day the Church would be on the fast track to renewal.
But don’t take my word for it. Whether you start with one minute a day or go straight to the full ten minutes, use the Prayer Process every day for thirty days. If you do, I think you will very quickly be convinced of its power.
Here is the process in its simplest form:
Gratitude: Begin by thanking God in a personal dialogue for whatever you are most grateful for today.
Awareness: Revisit the times in the past twenty-four hours when you were and were not the-best-version-of-yourself. Talk to God about these situations and what you learned from them.
Significant Moments: identify something you experienced today and explore what God might be trying to say to you through that event (or person).
Peace: Ask God to forgive you for any wrong you have committed (against yourself, another person, or him) and to fill you with a deep and abiding peace.
Freedom: Speak with God about how he is inviting you to change your life, so that you can experience the freedom to be the-best-version-of-yourself.
Others: Lift up to God anyone you feel called to pray for today, asking God to bless and guide them.
Finish by praying the Our Father.
On or about the twelfth day of Christmas, the shepherds must have been replaced by the Magi. Or, maybe, they all mingled together around the manger for a few days, before returning to their own locales. I’d like to have seen the smelly shepherds mix with the princely princes. The highly kings and the lowly shepherds gathered around the Almighty baby. I might have heard: What brought you here? Oh, the singing angels! What brought you here? Oh, that big star guided us. Ah, they learned from each other.
What brought YOU here? A star? An angelic song? A Christmas dream? A new hope for tomorrow?
Pope Francis, The Man of the Year, invites us to mingle with the sheep, the lowly. Maybe Dynamic Catholic’s research, which discovered the four signs of a dynamic Catholic, may be your guiding star for a new year of grace and growth.
Star One: Prayer. Attend a Catholic Church a few times this new year which has a demographic very different from your own. Mingle with the novel princes or smelly shepherds there. They are part of our flock too.
Star Two: Study. Read a book out of your comfort zone this year: a book about Catholic meditation, or a history of the early Church, or a biography of a great saint or pope. Stretch your Catholic mind.
Star Three: Generosity. Look at that tax return you are preparing, and plan to give away 1% more than 2012; pick a new deserving charity; donate 100 community service hours; spend 20% more time with your family.
Star Four: Evangelize. Be a star and guide your own three Magi to RCIA, seek out that lost sheep you used to see two pews ahead of you in church and lead them Home. Pray to be an evangelizer.
It is a new year, a time of new beginnings. Now that we know what makes a Catholic dynamic, go for it. Focus your life and be a shining star.
I had a great interaction today on the Metro! I was reading Finding True Happiness, which is the collection of Fulton Sheen’s works that you all have put out and that I got as part of the Ambassador’s Book Club. The woman next to me asked if it was about Christianity. When I told her it was, she asked if I was a Christian and proceeded to tell me that she was from a Buddhist background, but didn’t really have a faith and that she was really struggling because her husband had a very aggressive form of cancer. I told her about the Gospel and clarified that it is not about condemning people, but encouraging them to experience the joy and peace that they are meant for, which was contrary to what she had experienced. I gave her the book to keep and told her I would pray for her and her husband. So, the Ambassador Book Program has had great impact! Now, I just need to get another copy. I’m going to bring Allen’s new book, Life’s Greatest Lesson, on the metro tomorrow.
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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.