My wife, Laurel, and I had the pleasure to attend an inspirational talk by Matthew Kelly from Dynamic Catholic. It was held at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in New Braunfels, TX. If you have never been to a Matthew Kelly talk then you are missing out. The name of his institute describes him and his speaking style…dynamic. You will be engaged the entire time.
Before I tell you about what we heard, I wanted to give you a little background on The Dynamic Catholic Institute. It started back in 2009 with a mission to “re-engage disengaged Catholics and increase engagement among Catholics in general.” They began by first researching what it is that makes a Catholic highly engaged. Once the research was completed in 2012, they released the findings in a book entitled The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World. And in the four years since, they have developed a series of programs and resources designed to re-engage disengaged Catholics. Their new mission is re-energize the Catholic Church in America by developing world-class resources that inspire people to rediscover the genius of Catholicism. And their vision is to become the innovative leader in the New Evangelization, helping Catholics and their parishes become the best version of themselves.
The event was titled Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose. Matthew walked us through several concepts with an occasional musical break from a wonderful singer, Eliot Morris.
He started off describing someone who is engaged. They are hungry for best practices, committed to continuous learning and they know what matters most and what matters least. Later he talked about how God wants us to become great decision makers being ok to give a firm no or a passionate yes. In order to become better decision makers, we need clarity. And clarity, he says, emerges from silence and solitude. If we can only get away from the hustle and bustle of every day and spend a few minutes of the day in silence, we will begin to hear God.
As we begin to hear God, there are 3 ordinary voices of God. Legitimate Needs: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs necessary for survival. Talents and Abilities: universal and unique skills we have as both individuals and just being human. Deepest Desires: the mission we were each created for. We tend to devalue certain things like our universal talent to simply make a difference in someone else’s life. The culture of the world makes us obsessed with our wants, it hides the true value of things and fills us with superficial desires. Instead, God wants us to serve powerfully our legitimate needs first and then have God speak through us as we use our talents and abilities. And as we listen more closely to God, we will more clearly see our mission and purpose…our vocation.
One other thing that will help us be great decision makers is His gift of incredible awareness. We tend to just have awareness in hindsight but He desires us to have present moment awareness.
After a short break, we got back into with a challenge from Matthew. He challenged us to accept 1 out of 3 game changers.
- Read the Gospels 15 Minutes a Day for 1 Year. While it seems small, as you read the Gospels every day and get to know the real Jesus…the radical Jesus who loves and prays for His enemies…we will begin to see that there is huge gap between our lives and the life of Jesus. Jesus wants us to transform into Him and what we typically want is to just tweak. He will always answer prayers of transformation and if we diligently read the bible every day, then we will begin to see the real quest for change. Its not a little change here and a little change there but a true transformation.
- Confession Once a Month for a Year. We all have blindspots and we don’t tend to see things as they really are. Spending more time in confession will help to eliminate those blind spots. It will chase mediocrity out of our lives and you will have the best relationships of your life.
- Ask God to Show Us One Way to Become Better Versions of Ourselves in Each Mass. Listen to everything at mass and it will hit you. But be sure and take a notebook with you. Our tendency is to forget what we felt God was saying to us. Once it hits you, write it down and then spend the rest of the mass praying about that one thing. It will liberate you. Looking back at the journals will show you what was in your heart and soul at different parts of your life. And lives will change when habits change.
After the final break, we talked about the difference of Christianity. How did Christians change the world? They lived differently, loved differently and worked differently. We have always been counter cultural. But the biggest lie told by Christians today is that holiness is not possible for them. It is possible. But instead of trying to make our whole lives holy, we should instead focus on holy moments. A holy moment is doing what God is calling you to do in that very moment. Saints didn’t live holy lives but they did live holy moments. It starts with just one holy moment and then make them more frequent and we will reach our destiny…our purpose.
We are experts at making excuses but human beings, through the help of God, are capable of extraordinary things. God is looking for availability. How available are you to God. The challenge he left us with was simply, “make yourself 100% available.”