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by Matthew Kelly
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
by Father Bob Sherry
Rediscover Jesus was launched in hardcover about six weeks ago, and I have been amazed at the response. From conception to publication, the birth of a book seems to take forever. When readers start reading the book and giving their feedback, it makes all the hard work finally seem worth it. Writing is a solitary job, and you often wonder if you are writing anything worth reading or simply rambling.
The feedback has been incredible, and I want to thank you all for the privilege of writing for you.
This week Dynamic Catholic did something bold. It announced $1* copies of Rediscover Jesus for parishes to pass out this Christmas. There is a limited supply at $1, so I encourage you to act on this offer soon. For more information you can visit DynamicCatholic.com/RediscoverJesus.
May God bless you and all those you love,
*Orders of 500 copies or more are $1 (plus 50 cents shipping) per book. Orders of 6–499 copies are $3 per book, including shipping. Available for shipping addresses within the United States. Cannot combine with other titles. Shipping to Canada is available at $3 per copy for orders of 500 copies or more.
Generosity is at the heart of the Christian life, just as it is at the heart of the Gospel. For it is often through our generosity that we are able to bring the love of God to life for others in very real and tangible ways.
— From “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” by Matthew Kelly
The happiest people I know are also the most generous people I know. Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so. The world proposes selfishness as the path to happiness. God proposes generosity as the path to happiness. I know many selfish people, but I don’t know any who have a deep and lasting happiness. Selfish people always seem restless and discontented. The happiness we experience through selfishness is fleeting because it is dependent on external circumstances. But I also know some very generous people, and their happiness is not dependent on things going their way or on getting what they want; their happiness is rooted in the life of God. This happiness, this joy springs up from something that is taking place within them. We are all invited to that life and that happiness, and generosity is the path that leads there.
Sometimes I wonder, what is God really like? We spend a lot of time talking about God and Church, religion and spirituality, but sometimes all this talk can get in the way of us really thinking about God. Have you ever wondered what God is really like? How would you describe him? Finish this sentence: God is . . .
“God is love” is how John’s Gospel finishes the sentence (John 4:8). Nietzsche made headlines with the statement “God is dead.” What words would you use to describe God?
One word I would use is generous. In everything we attribute to God, I see immense acts of generosity. Creation is generous. Free will is generous. Life is generous. Love is generous. The generosity of God is awesome.
We find this divine generosity displayed in incredible ways by Jesus. I love to read the Gospels. I read them over and over again and always seem to catch new glimpses into the life and teachings of Jesus. The Gospels are always fresh. It’s not that they change, but I change. The circumstances of my life change, the questions I am grappling with change, and so the Gospels seem new. Or perhaps it is because I wasn’t open to a certain truth the last time I read a particular passage, but God has brought me to a new place, liberated me from a bias or blind spot, so now I am open to a truth that was always there. Sometimes I like to read the Gospels with one theme in mind. As I have been preparing to write this book, I have pondered the theme of generosity in the Gospels. It turns out it is a significant theme.
All the great figures that emerge in the Gospels are generous. Sure, you have the widow’s mite, an obvious act of generosity. But in every great Gospel figure you find generosity. Mary’s response to God when the angel appeared to her was an incredible act of faith, surrender, and generosity. The Magi, traveling from afar with gifts for the infant Jesus, were generous. The centurion begging Jesus to cure his servant was generous. The first twelve’s leaving everything to follow Jesus was incredibly generous. And then there is Jesus himself. His first miracle in Cana was not a miracle of need; it was a miracle of abundance and generosity. Throughout his life he served people by teaching them, feeding them, healing them, providing spiritual leadership, and comforting them. Finally, in his suffering and death on the cross, he laid down his life for us in the ultimate act of generosity. The Gospels are a story about the triumph of generosity.
Generosity is at the heart of the Christian life, just as it is at the heart of the Gospel. For it is often through our generosity that we are able to bring the love of God to life for others in very real and tangible ways. God is by his very nature generous. God wants to convince us of his generosity, and in turn wants us to live generous lives.
Last month I had the honor of celebrating a college classmate’s 50th wedding anniversary, as well as the actual wedding of a former Dynamic Catholic co-worker. Both of these celebrations made me reflect on marriage, family, and what makes marriages last. Along the way, I uncovered some interesting items.
Going to Church
According to a U.S. Census Report, 55 percent of marriages last 15 years, 35 percent of marriages last 25 years, and 6 percent of marriages last 50 years! A variety of research shows that regular church attendance is a strong contributor to long-lasting marriages. Couples who never attend church are twice as likely to divorce, couples who sometimes attend church are 10 percent more likely to divorce, and couples who regularly attend church are 46 percent less likely to divorce.
A study found that couples who spend $20,000 or more on their wedding are 46 percent more likely to divorce, while couples who spend $5,000 or less are 18 percent less likely to divorce, and couples who have more than 200 guests at their wedding decrease their chance of divorce by 92 percent, while couples who have 1-10 people at their wedding have their chances of divorce decrease by only 35 percent. The more support the better, it seems.
It’s Not Love
Some research offers the opinion that the most important word in marriage is not love. According to Dr. Allen Hunt, the most important word is an often forgotten dimension of relationships that proves pivotal in determining the lasting satisfaction and health of a marriage. Find out what it is with this set of talks.
The Most Important Thing?
When asked what element is most important to a long-lasting marriage, a focus group selected "communication." (Other options were honesty, trust, compromise, and humor.) Unfortunately, praying together at home as a family was not one of the options.
I have came across some great advice for how to have a long-lasting marriage: Never go to bed mad; it’s a matter of give and take; give one another space; respect, love and be there for one another. What advice do you married folks have for growing a loving, lasting marital relationship?
Pope Francis made his first journey to the United States in big part to express his support for marriage and family. When he returns to Rome he will shortly convene a distinguished group to further discuss marriage and family. I look forward to hearing the wisdom he will share.
Many Catholics avoid the sacrament of confession. I, too, was one of those Catholics until last year.
My mother went deaf prior to my birth, and I was subsequently born with a 60 percent hearing loss. Growing up, my mother and I had to go to confession face to face with the priest in order to be able to communicate. I hated it, I felt embarrassed, and I stopped going to confession when I was 19 years old. I never went again until May 2014.
I fell away from the Church about 15 years ago and was later married outside the Church. I was so busy working full-time and being a caretaker for family members that I convinced myself I didn’t need to attend Mass—that I could be a good Christian without the Mass and the Eucharist.
When my father-in-law passed away two years ago, I began to feel restlessness in my heart that I didn’t understand at the time. As Saint Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord.”
A year ago, a dear friend asked me to attend Mass with her. It was at that Mass that I knew I needed to find my way back to the Catholic Church.
Several months later I registered at the parish and met with Father Danda, giving him a brief history of my life. I can still vividly recall when he suggested I consider going to confession. I shuddered at the mere thought of it! That meant I would have to go face to face with him and tell him some sins I was truly ashamed of. I didn’t want to do it.
Through prayer and discernment, however, I asked myself, “How could I ask God to welcome me back into the Church if I was not willing to go to confession?” I also asked, “How could I go to confession and seek absolution from God if I couldn’t first ask forgiveness from some people that I hurt?”
I met with several people asking for their forgiveness. Then I had my confession with Father Danda. It was very difficult to be face to face and tell him what I had done. But when I heard the words of absolution, I was moved to tears! There was a sense of freedom and serenity that enveloped me.
My marriage was then convalidated (officially recognized by the Catholic Church) on October 12, 2014, and I thought I had come home. But the journey home was just beginning. In going to regular confessions, I soon discovered I had a lot of guilt and pent-up emotions that needed healing. I plead with you, do not be like me! Do not deny yourself the healing power of this wonderful sacrament.
My journey has continued in ways that I never expected. Fr. Danda introduced me to Dynamic Catholic, which has sent me on another journey of spiritual growth and learning about the Catholic faith. I’ve listened to many inspirational CDs, read several good Catholic books, and attended several Dynamic Catholic events. I realized how very little that I knew about the Catholic faith, and I regretted being away for so long. I pray and hope that it is God’s will to grant me good health and many years so that I can serve him and give back of my time and treasures.
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.