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by Matthew Kelly
Journey To God
by Father Bob Sherry
As we make our journey through Lent, I find myself amazed at how God is blessing the Dynamic Catholic mission. More than 200,000 people are experiencing the Best Lent Ever email program. I had hoped we would serve 20,000 or 50,000… but no, as always, God surprises us.
These surprises always make me especially grateful for one group of people: the Ambassadors. These are hard-working men and women who want the future of Catholicism to be vibrant and make sacrifices to support this mission. Thank you, Ambassadors—whether you are giving $10 a month or $100 a month, this Lent you are gifting more than 200,000 people with an incredible journey. You never cease to inspire me. (Not an Ambassador? Please consider becoming one. Learn more HERE.)
On a personal note, I also want to share that Meggie and I are expecting another baby in August. Walter, Isabel, and Harry are beside themselves with excitement.
May God bless you and all those you love as you journey through this Lenten season. There is genius in Catholicism. That genius is all around us all the time, but we often overlook it. It is even in the seasons. The season of Lent is a powerful time of renewal. Let go. Stop resisting God. Allow him to fill you with the joy that lasts forever.
Spiritual direction is the means through which the Holy Spirit guides us and provides coaching for our souls.
— From “Journey to God” by Daniel Burke
Not too long ago, I came across fresh mountain lion tracks while fly-fishing alone in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My first response was a bit of concern, but after a brief, careful survey of the surrounding terrain, I turned my attention back to the river. As I did so, all my instincts began to press in on me and I realized that I was in a very bad situation. Facing the river and focusing on the water, I was completely unable to keep track of what was around me. The roar of the river through the canyon completely disabled my ability to hear anything but the rushing water. I tried to brush off the feeling, but the tension just continued to rise until—with a teeth-bearing growl—I decided to hike back to safety. I just couldn't get beyond the fear that the huge blind spot behind me harbored an inevitable attack.
This is a picture of a rare event in life. Blind spots are called "blind spots" because we are not aware of them; we are "blind" to them. The best among us work very hard to develop virtue and to avoid, or eliminate sin, yet often have only a vague understanding of the fragile nature of our souls. Saints and sinners alike, we all have blind spots. For all of us, the most deadly are those that threaten our spiritual health and growth. Simply put, these blind spots can hide potentially fatal attacks from the enemy of our souls. "Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in faith" (1 Pet. 5:8-9a).
However, the devil is not the only source of attack. Scripture reveals two other serious threats to our spiritual health: the world and the flesh. The world is constantly drawing us away from God. Secular culture is always raising subtle and not-so-subtle arguments against God, all the while attempting to lure us into lifestyles and choices that promise life and freedom but deliver bondage and eternal destruction: "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16:33).
The last threat on our short list is "the flesh," which refers to the part of our nature that is inclined to darkness, or sin. Unfortunately, the flesh is the gateway to the soul and the door through which the world and the devil enter into the picture. Ultimately, we cannot be blindsided by the other two without the flesh providing an opening for attack: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Mt. 26:41).
Symeon the New Theologian (AD 949 to 1022) said this: "Do not follow the wolf instead of the shepherd (cf. Mt. 7:15).... Do not be found alone, lest you be seen to be the prey of the soul-killing wolf, or as succumbing to one illness after the other, thereby dying spiritually and alone in attaining that 'woe' after you fall. For one who gives oneself to a good teacher will have no such concerns, but will live without anxiety and be saved in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory to the ages. Amen."
Here Symeon reveals both the problem and the remedy. Without exception, the teachings of the saints and spiritual doctors of the Church agree: spiritual direction is among the most powerful tools to help us in the battle. Do you know any wise doctors who treat themselves when they face serious health challenges? Have you heard of any top athletes who don't have personal trainers and coaches? Spiritual direction is the means through which the Holy Spirit guides us and provides coaching for our souls. No doubt that this remedy is in itself a challenge (as most remedies are), but history books are replete with those who have chosen it and found the difficulties to be nothing when compared to the benefits.
Is this turning out to be your Best Lent Ever? I hope so. Jesus advised us that we need to take up our cross daily in order to follow him. “Cross” and “daily.” These two words catch me every time. I like to face a problem, work through it, and be done with it. But daily? The same cross? Ouch!
Each Lent ends in an Easter, promising that all crosses will someday be gone, eternally gone:
So we fully engage in this 40-day spring training camp, striving to become the-best-version-of-ourselves. We gladly surrender to the coach’s exercises of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving because we trust in his ways. Then, when the ball gets hit to us, we will be ready to field it with assurance that God is working in us with his new life.
The morning after Ash Wednesday I was doing my morning meditation and complaining about some crosses I was carrying. I happened to look up at a picture on my wall of Jesus laughing. For the first time, I interpreted this drawing not as “The Happy Jesus,” but as the “Jesus Who Knows Each Cross Is Insignificant” compared to the Easter that will shortly arrive.
Have your Best Lent Ever.
I recently sat down and read a Matthew Kelly book I received for Christmas, The One Thing. This wasn’t the first time, nor the second time I had read this book, but the third time! I am at a loss of words because of this book, but my thoughts are strong and powerful. I will try to express them.
This book is honestly one of the most powerful and straightforward pieces of literature I have had the pleasure of reading. In these short 60 pages, I not only heard Matthew’s thoughts about faith and his son, but also felt an overwhelming amount of sorrow and regret toward my own faith.
As I read the book this time, my daughter KaLiya was sleeping on my lap. I felt a real connection with this book because Walter (Matthew’s son) was sleeping on Matthew when all the thoughts were going through his head.
In the middle of reading, KaLiya woke up, looked me in the eyes, and ever so softly said, “Daddy… I love you.” At that moment, I was overcome with so much emotion that I started to cry. She looked at me and asked why I was crying, and I replied, “Because I love you so much, baby.” She looked at my tears, wiped them away, told me it would be alright, kissed my cheek, laid her head on my chest, and fell back asleep.
It was at that exact moment that I realized something: Our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are so young and impressionable that it truly scares me. I constantly wonder what the future holds for my little girl. I also find myself wondering what I can do to help secure the future I want for her. All those thoughts were answered while reading this book.
This was the first book I have read by Matthew Kelly, and it has me wondering why I haven’t read more. His words are so pure and powerful that it truly makes you think. He puts into perspective a lot of things that go unnoticed from day to day.
Being a father is the absolute best thing that has EVER happened to me. It has made me cherish the small things in life. Watching KaLiya grow has taught me to not sweat the small things, because as I watch her play with her toys I notice how free and peaceful she is.
It is hard to put into words my emotions as I sit here processing everything. I want to change my ways. I know I cannot change my past, nor do I want to because it has brought me to where I am today, but I know that only I can control my future. I know what I want for my future, and I will stop at nothing to achieve that. We are only given one chance at this game called life, and I intend to make the most of it!
Want to share your story? Write us at email@example.com
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