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by Matthew Kelly
by Father Bob Sherry
by Laura Valdez, Alaska
The First Sunday of Advent is the first day of the Church year and marks the beginning of our journey toward Christmas. We prepare for everything we consider important… and how we prepare for Christmas says something about what our priorities are.
How will you prepare for Christmas this year? What will be most important? The gifts? The food? Avoiding family drama? The tree and decorations? The manger? Midnight Mass?
Here’s an idea: Make this Advent a life-changing time in your life. Allow God’s grace to touch you and your life in a new way, to transform you in ways you know you need and ways unexpected.
Make the most important part of this Christmas spiritual renewal.
I thought this was going to be one of the more sane years I have experienced since I started speaking 20 years ago. But it turned out to be one of the busiest years of my life. I need the Lord to lead me to peaceful waters and restore my soul this Advent and Christmas. Join me.
May God bless you and all those you love. Let us never lose sight of how blessed we are, and mindful of our blessings may gratitude be our constant state.
It is God you are looking for. Your unhappiness is not due to something outside you, but a want of something inside you.
— From “Finding True Happiness” by Fulton Sheen
Do you remember when you were a child, how ardently you looked forward to Christmas? How happy you thought you would be, with your fill of cakes, your hands glutted with toys, and your eyes dancing with the lights on the tree!
Christmas came, and after you had eaten your fill, blown out the last Christmas candle, and played till your toys no longer amused, you climbed into your bed and said, in your own little heart of hearts, that somehow or other it did not quite come up to your expectations. And have you not lived that experience over a thousand times since?
The fact is: you want to be perfectly happy, but you are not. Your life has been a series of disappointments, shocks, and disillusionment. How have you reacted to your disappointments? Either you became cynical or else you became religious. If you became cynical, you blamed things rather than yourself. If you were married, you said, “If I had another husband, or another wife, I would be happy. “ Or you said: “If I had another job….,” or “If I visited another nightclub…” or “If I were in another city, I would be happy.” In every instance, you made happiness extrinsic to yourself. No wonder you are never happy. You are chasing mirages until death overtakes you.
It is God you are looking for. Your unhappiness is not due to something outside you, but a want of something inside you. If the sun could speak, it would say that it was happy when shining; if a pencil could speak, it would say that it was happy when writing – for these were the purposes for which they were made. You were made for perfect happiness. That is your purpose. No wonder everything short of God disappoints you.
About half a trillion dollars is spent annually on advertising. Several companies spend over a billion dollars a year. And, we all know the best way to build a brand or promote a product is to get people talking about it. Word of mouth costs nothing for the company; it is free. It is the best method of promoting something because people will believe someone they know and trust more than a paid-for slick commercial. It is said that all big ideas start by word of mouth.
Jesus was possibly the best advertiser of all time. And Jesus did not spend a penny, or a denarius, on advertising. His Board of Directors and His marketing guys were trained as fishermen and tax agents; no social media degrees among them. But look how they changed the world, and it is still changing. It is still changing to the Way of Jesus because of people like you. You caught the captivating message from someone, or some event, and then, filled with the Spirit and zeal, you are constantly looking for new ways to pass along the message. You especially use word of mouth, and other dynamics to make Jesus better known and loved.
The Year of Faith will close shortly, but the New Evangelization will live on, person to person, voice to heart, hand to shoulder. Our new Holy Father, who even welcomes little children up on his stage, regularly gives eye to eye messages showing Jesus’ love and acceptance. The Catholic Church of Jesus Christ is being watched and listened to again by the expensive media. Let’s join the band of apostles and walk with Jesus and let the little, and the big, children come close to Jesus.
Look for an opportunity to use your voice in uttering the Good Word or use your life to serve God’s lost children. The time has come, and it won’t cost you a cent.
Let me know how you did. email@example.com
I was invited last minute to hear Mr Kelly speak at St Mary’s in Cincinnati. I attended with two friends and my pastor, Father Nick. I wasn’t sure what to expect and it was the first time I had ever been to a “speaking event” that was actually ‘in’ the sanctuary. As a convert, I just always thought that was not approved by the church because the focus in that space was to be on Jesus alone. Once I got past my own distracted thoughts and listened to Matthew, he truly spoke to my heart and showed me that the focus actually was on Jesus. Although he is a very talented speaker, I didn’t leave there looking up to him, but I left there more in love with my faith, on fire to do something NOW and to stop living my life on the surface of my past. I’ve been blessed to hear what God put on Mr Kelly’s heart and I am ready to grow deeper into who I am to be for my God, with my God.
So, first point, is that I want to say thank you for the sacrifices those at TDCI make to share their passion with me. Second, God moved me a few years back to trust in Him and do what is asked of me. In turn, I have been blessed to serve my church family and many in the community. I am the community coordinator with a local boot camp fitness group that wants to keep a focus on ‘giving back’ and I am a hands on volunteer for my parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary, in Burlington Kentucky. I was able to leave my career as a microbiologist of 10 years to be a stay at home Mom for my four young children. Through all of that, God has made it clear that he didn’t “free up my time” but, rather, He has redirected me and my efforts. Since hearing Mr Kelly’s talk yesterday, I keep thinking about how I can move Catholicism and I get a lump in my throat….I feel passionate, I feel pulled to take action, I want to get involved on a deeper level than just on the surface of my church’s basic needs. I’m ready for a game-changer.
When I asked my God today, “what is my one thing to focus on this week?” all I could think of was the difference TDCI is going to make in the lives of so many…and how are they doing it?…by starting with our youth during confirmation. This speaks to me on a whole new level and, maybe someday, I can share my story with someone here. Summing up, my “one thing” for me to do this week is to pray daily for the Dynamic Catholic team and your efforts and to see how I can get involved.
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.