Amazing Possibilities!

Holy Moments: Interview With Matthew Kelly


Jack Beers:

Hello and welcome. I'm Jack Beers and I'm joined once again by bestselling author, speaker, thought leader, entrepreneur, father, friend, Matthew Kelly. Matthew, it's great to be with you again.


Matthew Kelly:

Likewise.


Jack Beers:

So Matthew, this time last year we got together to talk about a book called Life is Messy. A year later, couple of million books distributed, I'm still getting people coming up to me and saying, "Have you seen this title? What a great title. I couldn't help but pick it up. I started reading it. Totally changed my life," and then I usually get a follow up question to it, which is, "I would just love it if Matthew expounded on the question, okay, yeah, life is messy, but now what do I do with the mess? So as we get together today to talk about this book right here, Holy Moments, first question I've got on my mind is, is this the answer to the question, what do we do with the mess? And if so, did you go about trying to do that when you wrote the book?


Matthew Kelly:

Yes, I mean, absolutely, but I think we do rush to solutions to our problems, and in doing so we can skip the lessons of our problems. Life is Messy, I think it resonated with people because of what was happening in the world, what is happening in the world, what is happening in people's lives. It's enough just to recognize, to acknowledge, to accept that life is messy, and that while there are some things that we can do to alleviate the mess, life is always going to be messy. We cannot eliminate the mess. I think we have trouble sitting with that, and I think it's important that we do sit with that.


But as we do think about, okay, what is the answer to the mess, or what is the answer to the struggle we experience in the mess, Holy Moments is absolutely the answer. The mess is created by unholy moments, magnified and multiplied throughout history.


Jack Beers:

So we'll get to a little bit more about what Holy Moments are in a minute, which will help flesh out what the answer to the mess really is. But I love starting out with this question, because it's at the highest level. So I'd love to know, Holy Moments, who is the book for?


Matthew Kelly:

Book is for me. I think the book is for me. Hopefully it's for a lot of other people as well. We have a sense that life is messy. We have a sense that the world is a mess. We have a sense that it's bigger than us, and that can lead to a defeatism, a hopelessness, a powerlessness, which is really the core of poverty, material poverty. It creates a hopelessness and a powerlessness, and is the core of spiritual poverty, because it leads us to inaction.


When we feel hopeless, when we feel powerless, it leads us to inaction. I think our cultures place so much value and focus on worldly solutions to spiritual problems that have failed and failed and failed for every generation. It is an attempt to restore that focus in our lives and in our church and in society, and come to the realization that worldly solutions to spiritual problems are never going to work never. Never. Do we have the courage to shift our focus away from worldly solutions and back to God's answers, God's solutions, to our spiritual problems? Of course, to begin that journey, we have to recognize that our problems are spiritual. Our problems are not economic. Our problems are not political. We have political problems, but the essence of our problems are not political. They are spiritual problems.


And we need political solutions? Yes. Should we actively participate in the political process? Absolutely. Do we need economic solutions? Yes, we do. Should we actively participate in that? Absolutely. But they have to be mixed and married to spiritual solutions in order for them to be effective.


Jack Beers:

One of the things you start out with the book on, which I think touches on this is, you also clarify the difference between something that's a problem and something that's not actually a problem or what you call a human malfunction. It's instead something else. This really grabbed me when I was reading it, which is, you said that you may find yourself thinking or saying something is missing, there's more to life, I have so much more to offer, and these are sacred truths. When you get into the challenges we face, and Holy Moments as a potential solution to those challenges, I thought it was great that you sort of drew the line between, well, hold on, let's clarify what's a problem and what's not a problem. You call it the sacred truths that are in people. Why do you call it sacred truths, and why did you think it was so important to start off by drawing that distinction between what is a problem and what isn't, and what's a human malfunction and what's a sacred truth?


Matthew Kelly:

That's a beautiful question. If I say, listen to your heart, most people have some sort of cliche defense against that. They're like, oh well, that's cliche. But that concept, the concept of listening to your heart, exists in every culture, in all the major religious beliefs, in every place and in every time. That's why it's a cliche. The problem with cliches is that we dismiss them because we consider ourselves above them. And in dismissing them, we inoculate ourselves against the wisdom that made them cliches to begin with. The truth is, maybe the hardest thing in this world is to listen to your heart and to follow your heart. Because when you feel lost and confused, your heart still knows the way. You may not know where you're going, but your dreams know where they're going. They will take you there if you, if you listen to them and if you follow them.


But in a world full of experts, we have learned to doubt ourselves and trust the experts. That has led us astray, and that has led us into a misery and a desperation of really industrial scale in our society. When we have the sense that something is wrong or that something is missing, or there must be more to life, we think, oh, there's something wrong. And what I'm trying to say is, there's something very, very, right. You, as a whole human being, are functioning at maximum capacity when you're able to recognize that, when you're able to hear that, when you're able to respond to that. I do believe there are sacred truths. I do believe they are sacred truths. I do believe they are placed in you, and in me, at particular times, by God, to summon us to the path that we were created for the fullness of life that Jesus so often speaks of in the gospels and that we tinker with, but don't really surrender ourselves to.


Jack Beers:

And so by treating them as, if I'm hearing you right, by treating them as malfunctions, we're actually missing our moment and invitation to pursue what we were made to pursue, and pursue our dreams. That if we seek relief from the sense that something is missing, we're actually preventing ourselves from going out and experiencing the fullness of what we were made to be and become and do. Is that what I'm hearing you say?


Matthew Kelly:

Absolutely. But that's the best case scenario. That's a bad scenario, but that's the best case scenario. The more likely scenario is that we do, or try to do with ourselves, what we tend to do with things that malfunction in our lives and in our society. And that is, throw them away and get a new one. Of course you can't throw yourself away and get a new one, and so that creates perhaps the ultimate existential dilemma for the human person living in 2022 in one world.


Jack Beers:

So Holy Moments come into this. They come into your life, maybe not necessarily in the form of the phrase, holy moments, but the concept came to you when you were 16, the idea that there are choices that you make that are holy and choices that you make that are not holy. So, it kind of came to you when you were a teenager. What happened there and what changed in you when you had that realization?


Matthew Kelly:

I was in this conversion type experience, probably from when I was about 15 to, let's say 16 or 17, and I had this great spiritual mentor. He's the one who encouraged me to stop by church for 10 minutes each day on the way to school. He's the one who encouraged me to start reading the Bible, in particular, the gospels over and over again. He's the one who took me to nursing homes, taught me how to spend time with the poor, how to spend time with the lonely. Obviously he had an enormous influence on my life. In the midst of all of that, if you delve into the faith, you realize, okay, at the core of the faith is this universal called holiness. Our tendency is to think that is for some people. We also like that. That's why we put saints on pedestals, because it separates them from us. It gives us the ability to say they're different. I'm not like that. And because I'm not like that, I'm not called to what they did or they do, or more importantly, how they became the best version of themselves.


It was at this time in my life, and on a day in particular, I can see where I was. I was walking home. I'd been having coffee with this guy. I was right outside a family doctor's office. It was actually in a home. It was in a neighborhood. It was on the corner of the street. I can see myself there. I remember that moment. It was, and is, a defining moment in my life. It just occurred to me that some moments are holy, and that we participate in them. Some moments are unholy. We participate in them and our participation, our choices, our decisions give moments, their positive or negative charge, in most cases, and give moments there of holy or unholy charge.


Jack Beers:

One of the most arresting parts in the book, I literally had to stop reading it for a second and reflect on it. You said something in there, "Everything good in your life is connected to that moment." And that was just like, wow. That's how powerful one idea can be. That's how powerful this idea in particular is. What gave you the confidence to say that, and what makes you say that everything that is good that has come from your life has come from that particular moment?


Matthew Kelly:

It's just a fact. I don't feel great confidence is needed to say that. just is, it's just a fact. I look at my life, I look at what has happened, I look at the opportunities I've had. I look at the ways I've suffered. I look at the friends I've had. I look at this incredible work I've had the opportunity to do. It has all been, I can tie every single moment of my life back to that moment, good or bad. In most cases, the good or bad has to do with whether I have embraced the wisdom of that moment in this new moment or rejected the wisdom of that moment in this new moment. There's been plenty of both.


Jack Beers:

So ,let's get to it then, I think. We've talked a little bit about how holy moments has impacted you personally, and sort of set the stage that holy moments is the answer to the mess of life. So what is a holy moment and how do I have one?


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. One of the things I did in the book was I really spent time on defining the holy moment. Then I broke it down, word by word, phrase by phrase, step by step, so that there would be no confusion. A holy moment is a single moment in which you open yourself to God. You make yourself available to him. You set aside personal preference and self interest. And for one moment, you do what you prayerfully believe God is calling you to do. That's a holy moment.


Jack Beers:

That's how you have one too, is that you have this moment, and this awareness there, and you invite God into that moment, and you set aside self-interest. So I would love it if we broke it down a little bit. I just want to ask you, why do you focus on a single moment? Why just one single moment? Why do you get that specific and that narrow with it?


Matthew Kelly:

Many reasons. I think one reason is because that is where life happens. Life happens in the present moment and it is the only place to meet God. God is constantly existing in the present moment. If we want to commune with God, if we want to connect with God, if we want to spend time with God, it will happen only in the present moment. That's one reason. Another reason is because it's very, very difficult, possibly impossible, to be overwhelmed by a single moment. Even a single moment of horrific suffering, a single moment, not five minutes, but even a single moment of horrific suffering can be absorbed, can be integrated, can be experienced. It's the addition of these moments that make life unbearable and overwhelming, whether that's someone being tortured in a military situation or just the stress of daily life. It's never the single moment that overwhelms. It's the addition of moment upon moment upon moment.


The single moment is really important because, especially when someone is setting off on a spiritual journey, when someone has the sense, okay, there must be more to live. I must be missing something. I feel like I'm called to more. I feel like I'm capable of more, or all those sorts of things. They're in a very tender place. What religion tends to do to people in that moment is overwhelm them. Jesus talks about the idea that, I will not crush the bruised [inaudible 00:19:20], and very often we do. People come, they're in these early stages. They're very vulnerable. They're very fragile. It's just a little, a little sprout growing out of the earth. A strong wind can destroy it. So it's very important when people want to grow spiritually that we don't overwhelm them. A single moment doesn't overwhelm them.

If you say to them, "Hey, you need to be saint. You need to be a saint like [inaudible 00:19:58], or Mother Teresa, or what happens? They get overwhelmed. They start to think about all the impossibility of why they can't do that or why they can't be that. What the single moment does is it reveals possibilities. It puts us in a place mentally, psychologically, spiritually, in a place of possibility. So the single moment is really important.


Jack Beers:

It feels like when you distill it down to a single moment, that where I am in my life, it actually, it doesn't matter at all. There's no prerequisite for it. I read that and I think I don't need any background or any training, or literally anything in order to have a holy moment. I just, I need to do what you just shared. I need to be able to place... I need to give God the opportunity to speak into my life in a single moment. That's all that needs to happen. It feels so simple. Is it too simple, or I don't know, what do you think about that?


Matthew Kelly:

In a lot of my writings I talk about the idea that like, if you get to an end of a chapter, or if you get to end of a book and you feel overwhelmed, you have misunderstood what I'm trying to say. At the end of each point, at the end of each chapter, at the end of each book, I want my reader to be able to say, "Wow, I can do that. That's possible. That's not overwhelming. It's not too much. I don't need a doctorate in this or a masters in that to begin. I can begin today, and I really can do that."


So if you ask, is it too simple, I would argue there's no such thing. Our capacity to complicate things is astounding and devastating. Even the simplest things, we have a tendency to complicate them.


Then the other thing I think that's important to recognize is that given the state of the world and the state of our lives, whenever there is big problems, complex problems, lots of dysfunction and bureaucracy, only the very simplest solution can cut through all of that, gain broad acceptance. So be used by millions and millions and millions of people in a way needs to be used, and have an impact and be effective. I would argue that holy moments is not too simple. It's just simple enough. It is very, very, very simple. I mean, I've broken it down to what I believe is its simplest form, and I labored over it. I mean, we look at that definition, I labored over it, and I've been laboring over it for years. It's showing up now in a book form, but it's been labored over for a long time.


Jack Beers:

Well, I mean, to some degree it's been labored over since you were 16, right? At 16, you have that moment, and then at 19 you start talking about the universal call to holiness, and then somewhere around there, I don't know that the age, you saw the response of people to the universal call to holiness, and how it wasn't resonating and eyes are glazing over, and you move to the best version of yourself. Eyes start lighting up and you start communicating this journey of becoming a better version of yourself every day, as a part of this call to talk to people about the universal call to holiness, and all of the fruit that's been born from that, I mean, you can't go anywhere now without hearing someone saying something that refers to becoming a better version of yourself. Then now after 30 years of ministry and thinking about it, you have a definition for this holy moment. It feels like a full culmination in that way to me. Does it feel like that to you?


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah, it's interesting because that's a really profound insight, I think, into how things have unfolded over the past 30 years. But I thought, oh, universal call to holiness, that...

But I thought, huh, universal call to holiness, that's a simple concept. Everyone is called to holiness. Holiness is becoming all God created you to be. That felt simple and complete to me 30 years ago, as a 15 year old. It was life changing. I go out on the road at 19 and I realize, okay, people don't get it. Now, they don't get it because they didn't get to sit down with a spiritual mentor and have coffee and play basketball and ask stupid questions, and resist God and have someone patiently watch you resist God and continue to encourage you and inspire you and educate you. They didn't have that, so that's okay.


But the evolution of that into, and not even evolution, but the presentation of that as God has a dream for you, he wants you to become the best version of yourself, I think was the holy spirit at work, was inspiration. But then I would've thought that was complete. I would've thought that was simple enough. I would've thought, okay, that makes sense. People get that. And certainly they have, but I think the piece or this piece, is it the last piece? I don't know. Is the how. Is the real how. I think people say, oh, okay, become better version of myself. If I exercise, I become a better version of myself. If I eat foods that really fuel and nourish me, I become a better version of myself. If I take care of myself by sleeping, I become a better version of myself. There's lots of ways I can relate with people in my life. Relationships help me become a better version of myself. If learn new things, if I read great books, I feed my mind, I become a better version of myself. Then spiritually, silence, solitude, scripture, sacraments. They help me become the best version of myself.


We know all of these things. We've talked about all of these things over the past 30 years. I've written about all of these things. But the real DNA of how we approach these things is holy moments, because if we go a little further into the definition, a holy moment is single moment in which you open yourself to God. You open yourself to God. It reads simple, but that's a cosmic shift in the spiritual life of a person.


It's not a one time thing for you or me. I did it when I was 15, probably for the first time with great intentionality in my life, but I have to do it every day and I have to do it many, many times a day. There are moments in the day when I do exactly the opposite. I close myself to God. Now, I don't say to myself, all right, I'm going to close myself to God now and do this or say this, or be this. But my actions are actions that close myself to God. It's that, it is simple, but as you get into it... I mean, we could talk for an hour on each collection of words here, each phrase, each concept.


Jack Beers:

Yeah. I'd love to get into a little bit on why you need to set aside self-interest and preference, because one of the things that I've experienced is, what do you do when God moves through you, when you open yourself up to God and God moves through you and you act on what God is doing? I could say that I've probably never been happier than when I follow through on what God is asking me to do. Then it, to some degree, incentivizes me to do that again. Now, I'll resist it, because I'm human, at different times, but there are certainly times where it's like, well, I'm going to do this thing that God wants me to do because it's probably going to make me happier after a certain amount of time. So in your mind, what is the relationship between self-interest and and preference and that holy moment?


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. So it's a great question and it's something I try to explain in the book, because I think it is really, really important. I am not saying set aside self-interest and personal preference because you should suffer or you should spiritually discipline yourself in this way or any of that. I'm saying set them aside so that you can really hear what God is calling you to. He might be calling you to do exactly what you want to do in that moment. So yes, you set self-interest aside, you set personal preference aside, but then in opening yourself to God and listening to what God is calling you too, he may give that straight back to you and say, "That is what I want."


I think it is a distorted and a depraved spirituality to say that God always wants what you don't want, or if you want it can't be the will of God. In fact, I think one way to measure spiritual progress, is over time, we should discover that we want what God wants more and more. Over time as we're setting aside self-interest, as we're setting aside personal preference, over time we should see God returning us back to that and saying, "No, that's actually what I want," because alignment in desire, desiring what God desires, is wisdom. He gave us the capacity desire. He gave it to us for a reason. It's a matter of directing our desire, placing our desire on those things that are good and true and right and just and noble, and ennobling to ourselves and others.


Jack Beers:

I think one of the temptations with the way that you've described holy moments is to believe that you have to be aware of that process in order for it to be a holy moment. In order to have a holy moment, I need to be like, okay, God... wait, hold on. I got to put myself interest aside for a hot second here. Okay, God, what do you want me to do? All right, I'm going to go do it. But in the book, there's an amazing example that you give of your son, Walter, who has a beautiful holy moment, but he's also not consciously aware that he's having one. What is the relationship between awareness and holy moments?


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah, so we're driving home one day and we go past the donut shop and Walter says, "Should we stop and get some donuts for Ralphie? Ralphie loves donuts." Walter doesn't need donuts, and we did. When we got home it turned out Ralphie had had a rough day. It just really, it was a very touching thing to see Walter bring these donuts into Ralph and then to learn about his day. It was just clear the spirit was at work. Later that night, Walter came into my office and I was working on the book and he said, "Dad, what are you working on?" Because one of the things I've had to teach my children is that I do a lot of things in my office at home. I do business work. I pay the bills. I read, I write. There's a lot of things I do in there. I don't want them to grow up thinking daddy works all the time. There's a lot of things I do in there that are not work, and that are important parts of my life.


Anyway, he came in and he said, "What are you doing?" I said, "I'm working on a new book." And he asked me what it's about, and I explained, it's about holy moments. I said to him, "Did you have any holy moments today?" He's a very thoughtful little guy. He's 12, and sits there for a moment and he said, "I don't think so." And I said, "Well, I think you had a holy moment on the way home when we stopped to get the donuts. That was your idea, and I think the spirit was stirring in you. You don't eat donuts. It's something you wanted to do for your little brother. Then when we got home, clearly Ralphie had had a day, and you could see that God was working through you to soothe, to care for Ralph. It's just a small thing, but that was a holy moment."


To circle back to your question, Walter was not doing that intentionally. He wasn't saying, "I am going to create a holy moment." I think the danger is to think that we have to teach Walter to do it intentionally. I think we actually have to return to where Walter is, where it happens naturally, spontaneously, creatively. The spirit is alive and well, thriving in all of those things. But we worship our intellects, and so we think that if we intentionally do something, that it has more value. But of course, that also is a form of self worship, because ultimately it is God that is creating the holy moments. He's collaborating with us to create these holy moments. Should people set out to intentionally create holy

moments? Yes, but only because, like virtue, over time by doing that, it will become natural and spontaneous and creative, and it will not require the same level intentionality that it requires early on in the beginning.


Jack Beers:

That's a totally different way to look at what Jesus said when he invited us to be like little children, right? That's just, little children have that natural propensity to collaborate and cooperate with the spirit. Ah, so that's-


Matthew Kelly:

And to listen to their hearts and to follow their hearts. Yeah, it's a beautiful thing.


Jack Beers:

Yeah. Wow. What do you think? It is so simple and if you read it or if you're just hearing it now, it's like okay. I don't need to read it again. I don't need to hear it again. I just go do it. There's bound to be some resistance, too. So what do you think some obstacles are to someone who's going to say, "Okay, I'm open to the idea. I'm going to try to have a holy moment today." What obstacles do you think they might face and how much you speak into those?


Matthew Kelly:

I often talk about the holy spirit as the great encourager, and everything that is evil in this world discourages us. I think you have to be mindful of anytime you feel discouraged, where is that coming from? Because it is isn't coming from God. Great fathers are great encouragers when they're at their best. Discouragement is sort of a poison that leads us away from what is possible. It's sort of a voice of impossibility, whereas encouragement is a voice of possibility. I think discouragement is one obstacle that people will face. It comes in many forms. It comes in self-talk. It doesn't have to be someone else discouraging us. It comes in self talk, and the most common form of self talk in these types of things is, that's not going to make a difference. It's such a small thing, it's not going to make a difference.


The problem is that it does create a butterfly effect, a ripple effect. You don't know what your goodness will end up accomplishing. I'm sitting here today, that guy having coffee with me, playing basketball with me, taking me in the nursing home, in his wildest imaginations could not have imagined the ripple effect that his goodness, his generosity, him pouring himself into me, has had on me, on the people who are personally connected to me in my life, and to the millions of millions of people who have heard me speak and read my books and been impacted by the message. So goodness never dies. It goes somewhere to live. The tiniest act of goodness transfers to another person, transfers to another person, on and on and on. It multiplies and magnifies. I think the obstacle is discouragement, and we have to be very mindful of that.


Jack Beers:

You write in the book that holy moments draw out your potential. I'm sitting here, and there's untapped potential within me. Holy moments is a mechanism by which my potential can be drawn out. So many people want to reach their potential. How do holy moments draw your potential out of you, and what does that look like?


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. I particularly talked about soul potential, and that concept just sort of came to me as I was working on the book. Because we think about, okay, people have intellectual potential, or physical potential, or career potential, or relationship potential, or all these different types of potential, but what is the core of all of that? What is sort of the sum of all of our potential? It is soul potential. It is spiritual force that is within us that has been placed within us, I think for very specific reasons, to play fairly specific roles in this, just world and in our lives and in other people's lives.


We look at children, we see potential all the time. You just look at little kids and they'll just do a little thing, just a tiniest little thing, and you realize, ooh, there's potential for whatever there. At some point we stopped looking at people and seeing potential. I think that's a really sad thing, as a society. I think at some point we stopped looking at ourselves and seeing potential, because we're grown up now, right? Only we're not really, and there still is this sort of extraordinary, almost infinite potential, but it is soul potential. It's not of this world. It's not, oh, I have potential to be a great golfer, a great basketball player, or a mathematician, or a scientist or whatever. It is something spiritual, which means it affects everything.


Jack Beers:

One of the things that you've said often is that great books walk and talk with you wherever you go. I mean, great as in, maybe effective. It could be a negative book, right? A book that impacts you negatively or positively, what you read, what you consume, it walks and talks with you. I read Life is Messy, and it had walked and talked with me, in that it gave me some things to really seriously consider and ponder on and think about, and really related. This book was so different, and it's different on the topic of potential, because I read it and then it's walking and talking with me and I am... and the concept of holy moments and that there are tons of opportunities throughout my day to either have a holy moment or an unholy moment, it was like the first time that my potential became tangible.


I could just see it now, like going through the day. My wife is tired and I know she's tired, and all of a sudden I've because I've read this book, I'm like, okay, I have options here. I can look at my wife and I can say, "Well, it's too bad. Those dishes are pretty high. Have fun." Now I want to stay married, so I'd never say it like that. I could say, "Well, hey, I'll tag team them with you." That's okay. Or I could do the thing that I could really sense that God was calling me to, which was, "Hey, you've been running around with the kids all day today, go up. I'm going to take care of the dishes tonight, and I'll be up there. So tomorrow you wake up, it's a clean kitchen." It was just like, oh, that's my potential to love. It's right in front of me and I have these different paths to choose. I know, with based off of the enthusiasm that the option is coming to me, what the right one is.


It was just, it's been this very strange experience to see my own potential for goodness, both to say something or not say something, do something or not do something, go the second mile when someone's only asking me to go one. It's really changed the way that the way that I see my every day, and it's brought me to this conclusion that holy moments is actually, it has an unlimited capacity to impact my life. Would you agree with that? Do you think it has this unlimited and lifelong potential to impact literally every single person?


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah, and every situation, and literally every moment. That's why I made the subtitle a handbook for the rest of your life. The concept is so powerful that once you know about it, you can't set it aside. You can't unthink it. You can't unhear it. You are going to see it everywhere you go, in every circumstance. You are going to see opportunities for you to collaborate with God and create holy moments. You're going to see opportunities for other people to collaborate with God and create holy moments. Sometimes it's going to be like watching a car wreck. You're driving along, you can see this car wreck about to happen, and you're going to see that because people are going to either pass up the opportunity to collaborate with God and create a holy moment or worse than that, they're going to go in the other direction and they're going to create an unholy moment.


But what you described, is the essence of what it means to be a human being, is the essence of the crisis in our society today. You are response able. You're capable of making response. You're able to respond to the same situation in many, many different ways, and that dynamic of being response able is the crux. It is, whole lives turn on that, in that moment. Whole society's turn on that, right? And unfortunately we are in the midst of a massive application of personal responsibility. We're essentially saying we are not response able, or we don't want to be response able. That is causing grief, sadness, suffering, both internal and external, on a massive scale in our society.


Jack Beers:

You talk about the, well the concept is very empowering, right? Holy moments is very empowering concept for me, but it's empowering in the sense that there's an aspect of it. That's very inspiring. Then there's an aspect of it that's like, oh shoot. There's, I am powerful as a person. You talk about humanity has an incredible power. I think one of the things I started to realize after reading the book is I treated myself as if I, for the most part, was neutral on the world, that I was, for the most part, not really having a positive impact or a negative impact, but wasn't really having any at all.


Positive impact or a negative impact, but wasn't really having any at all. I read this and it's like, well, I could have an unholy moment, I could have a holy moment. And it's clear that if you have an unholy moment that it's not that great. But if I choose not to do the thing God's calling me to and not using my power for good, that is almost worse. And you talk about what if someone had an incredible power and didn't use it for good. And that question has just been really sinking in. And I think when you talk about the problems that are billowing out in society, it's not necessarily the people just going out and doing evil, it's the people who are deciding not to do good. How does that sit with you?


Matthew Kelly:

I think there's a few things there. One, you start using words like empowering and I have power or I am a powerful entity being. I think it's important to point out that there are a lot of people very uncomfortable with that language. I think that I have been broadly criticized for empowering people and helping them to recognize that they do have this power. And I think that comes from a very distorted view of Christianity. God wants to empower us. If Jesus didn't want to empower us, he would've stayed. His ascension is an empowerment of humanity. It is saying, okay, I'm going to send the spirit, he's going to fill you with this incredible power. You don't need to be confused about where it came from, it came from me. Okay. You didn't do it on your own, but go out into the world with that power, go out into world empowered, recognizing that I have placed this power in you and use that power as a tremendous force of good.


I think it's very important to call that out and to recognize that is a very valid and critical aspect of Christianity. Otherwise, we can say, well, God doesn't want us to be empowered. It's God that does it. Okay. I'm not confused about that, but he does it through you. He wants to do it through you. He loves collaboration. Could have clicked his fingers and Jesus show up as a 33 year old male, ready to die on the cross. He didn't. He put his son in a womb of a woman in the most significant collaboration between God and humanity in history of the world. And if you read the scriptures, I think through that lens of collaboration between God and humanity, it's a beautiful theme. And one that should come into our lives and into our moments. And what we're essentially saying, what is holy moment? It is a collaboration between God and man.


Am I encouraging people to go out and create holy moments? Yes. Can they do it without God? No, but God's piece of it is guaranteed. Grace is never lacking. It's always our response or our resistance, that is the X factor in the equation that makes it happen or doesn't make it happen. So I think it's very, very critically important that we understand that Christianity by its very nature is empowering, that the holy spirit does fill us with an incredible power and that we can go out into that world and use that power or not. And that really is the heart of your question.


And I talk about it in the book. I said, if someone had an incredible gift and they used it to do evil in the world, well, we all recognize that's problematic and that's a betrayal of self and a betrayal of God and not good. But if someone has an incredible gift and they just don't use it for good, that also is a tragedy. And most of us participate in that tragedy. And we justify that tragedy by saying, yeah, but I'm not doing evil. These other people are doing real evil, I'm not doing evil. Yeah. Okay. But you've got this incredible gift. It's like having a storehouse full of food and your door neighbor is starving to death and you say, yeah, but I didn't do anything evil. Well, it all depends on maybe how you define that.


Jack Beers:

Yeah. I was probably in that camp, was a little bit wishy washy on that point that you're making. And then a couple of weeks ago, so my son is two, he's not speaking a ton. So he speaks in fragments. And I was looking at something on my phone and he just walked up to me, pulled the phone out of my hand, put it down and said, "Dad, no, car." It's like, let's go play. And it just distilled it down to me. It was a very empowering moment, certainly, but it was a very challenging moment where I wasn't doing anything wrong. There's nothing wrong with being a big sports fan and wanted to know what the score is. I wasn't doing evil to my son, but I also wasn't doing the greatest good either. And it was like, holy moments have the power to just take you to the whole next level. And that was where that became real to me.


Okay. So we've moved naturally where the book has moved. So the book makes a pivot. And the first part of the book, which we've been talking about is holy moments as it impacts me as an individual and its relationship to what my future looks like and the impact that I have on the world. But the book makes a shift to what holy moments can do in our culture and in our society. And you refer to the good Samaritan as the patron saint of holy moments. And I wanted to let you unpack that for us a little bit, why the good Samaritan and why did you really with that story of the good Samaritan, make a turn in the book and start pointing to the impact that holy moments can have in the world?


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah, so obviously the patron saint language is the use of language. It is the use of language to get people's attention. It is the use of language to recognize the role that the good Samaritan has played in our society. And not just from a faith perspective, but even from a secular perspective. You've got hospitals in almost every city and the planet named good Samaritan hospital. You have all sorts of organizations named after the good Samaritan. And any time anyone goes out of their way to do something for someone in need, especially a stranger, even the most secular news channels will report that as the act of a good Samaritan.


And so the good Samaritan is one of the most famous anonymous people in history. And obviously it's the story Jesus told. Now, where did the story come from? Did he make it up? Was it something he knew had happened? All of that obviously is conjecture, but I think biblical imagination is important. And what happened to the good Samaritan after, and what happened to the guy whose life is saved and how did he go on to live the rest of his life? And how did this moment affect the life of the good Samaritan? I think we leave these stories and we don't wonder enough about what happened to these people and where did they go and what did they do afterwards.


So I thought that good Samaritan was just the perfect example of a holy moment. There are other people who walked past the man on the street and they had their reasons. And they had many reasons, they had complex reasons tied to their spiritual beliefs, but the good Samaritan stopped and he created a holy moment. He collaborated with God to create a holy moment. And if you think about the impact of that holy moment on the world, that's why the good Samaritan is almost universally known.


I do transfer or shift, as you say, in the book then to impact holy moments can have on a world, because I think it's important that people see the connection that they realize that they are participating in something much, much, much greater than themselves for them to realize, okay, yes, holy moments changes me, it changes the person that are direct the holy moment towards, it changes the people who witness the holy moment or hear about the holy moment. But it's also important to recognize that if you multiply that out enough, you do change your marriage, change your family, change a workplace, change a community, a city, a village, a nation, and ultimately the world. But the world will only improve if we improve as human beings. And holy moments cause us to improve as human beings and help others to improve as human beings.


There's no better world without helping human beings become better human beings. That's one of the great lies of progress in our culture. It's like, oh, we can have better lives and we can have a better world by being worse people. No, I'm sorry that just isn't going to happen. And in our culture, we've shifted away from, even things like character development or character education. We moved away from that, which would've been outside the realms of faith education. It would've been in any secular environment 20 years ago. We would've said, okay, well, we're not going to bring religion into this environment, but we understand the value of character and virtue. And we are going to provide education around that so that the people in this environment can become better human beings.


One of the great tragedies, I think of what is happening in our culture is we've abandoned the idea of better human beings that we can become better human beings, that we should strive to become better human beings. And again, we're back to looking for worldly solutions to our profoundly spiritual problems.


Jack Beers:

You touched on two big themes that I want to dive deeper into. So the first one here is progress. So there is some sense that we're trying to make progress, and yet it would seem to me that we're headed in the wrong direction. So when you talk about progress, what do you think the culture means by progress? And what do you think actual progress is?


Matthew Kelly:

I think change and progress have become synonymous. And I think we've all seen change. It was anything but progress. I think progress is sold to people as this will be a great change. But very often on the other side of whatever the change is, people think, well, this actually isn't better. I've spoken a bit about cell phones lately. I don't know a parent who would say, oh, my relationship with my child is better because I gave my cell phone, where they gave it to him a month ago, a year ago or a decade ago. I don't know a single parent who would say, yeah, my relationship is just indisputably better because my child has a cell phone. And so I think we're confused about what progress is. I think we're confused about what changes progress should lead to human flourishing. The goal of society is to create an environment and opportunities for human beings to flourish. We're not seeing much of that.


And so we're not making much progress. We can call it whatever we want to call it, but human beings are not flourishing. They're not flourishing more today than they were 10 years ago. They might have more stuff that is in progress. Having more stuff isn't progress, having more money isn't progress. Not that those things are bad, but what gives them their positive or negative charge is do they help human beings flourish? If I give you more money and it causes you to become a worse human being, well, how is that good? Or if I give you more stuff and it causes you to destroy significant relationships in your life, it's obviously not progress.


And so we need leaders who understand the role of society, that understand the role of government, that understand the role of leadership, that understand the role of teaching. And that is to facilitate this human flourishing and to not interfere with this human flourishing and to build environments and opportunities where this human flourishing can take place. And unfortunately, there are few and fewer environments that encourage human flourishing, and there are few and fewer opportunities that people naturally bump into that create human flourishing. We're quickly approaching a scenario where if you want to flourish as a human being, you have to go looking for environments and opportunities to the extent that you actually have to avoid most environments and opportunities because they will not cause you to flourish. They will destroy you.


Jack Beers:

When I think about what you're saying, that most environments that are out there are actually going to destroy you and you have to avoid them. As a person who tries to be a person of possibility, I can't help, but say I'm drawn to what a great opportunity for the Catholic church in America. If the Catholic church was the best, there's plenty of opportunity now, but if the Catholic church was the best place in the world at helping human beings to flourish, that would be a great opportunity, that would be a great way to turn the tide on Catholicism's influence in America.


And so one thing I've been thinking about is Holy Moments is the Christmas book this year that we are making available at a dollar a copy to be distributed at parishes this Christmas. And when I think about the books that you've written, and then also the books that we've distributed through the book program, and it's been millions and millions, there's upward of 30 million books that we've distributed through the book program. I think this is the most important book since Rediscover Catholicism. Not necessarily say like, oh, is it the book that has most deeply impacted me? Maybe, maybe not, but I think it's the most important one for the church since Rediscover Catholicism, because I think it's an actual formula that everyone on a quick hit can actually start to flourish as a human being or at least get better as a human being.


And the church because they got the book there, can actually be seen as the place to which help their lives improve. So I wanted to know what you thought about that. We haven't talked about that. But I wanted to know what you thought about that, and if there is a problem that the church is facing right now that cannot be significantly improved, if people just started having significantly more holy moments. I guess that was two things in there through that last one on the end.


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. When I wrote The Dream Manager, obviously it's a business book, but the idea that your dreams are your dreams for a reason, and you can follow them or ignore them, it seemed too simple to me. I put off writing the book for a long time. I almost didn't publish the book because I just thought, uh, it's just too simple. But the phenomenal success of that is really around this concept, your dreams are your dreams for a reason, and you can ignore them or pursue them. Once you know that you can't really forget that. If you ask someone, what are your dreams? They're like, I don't know, because they haven't thought about it or no one's ever asked them or they're not willing to say or that thing, but that question will not leave them alone. They will lie awake at night wondering what are my dreams? When did I stop dreaming?


And in a small way that concept is unforgettable, you can't set aside, it won't leave you alone once you are aware of it's in your life forever. In a much, much, much larger way, the concept of holy moments is everywhere. It's like once you hear about it, once you know about it, you're going to see it everywhere, you're going to see situations through that lens. And you're going to be able to bring to life holy moments yourself very quickly and many of them. And there's a great joy that comes from that. I've written a lot of books, 30 something. If you said to me, you have to pick one of your books and nobody will ever read any of your other books ever again, that will only read the one book you pick, this is that book. This is that book.


Jack Beers:

When you think about all the challenges that are facing the culture and that are facing the Catholic church in America, is there one that you think holiness can't solve?


Matthew Kelly:

No, I don't think there is. And I also think it far transcends us, it far transcends the church. It's not only what the church needs, it is what the world needs, it is what society needs. And it is a 100% issue, which I've talked about before. It's like, if you're against creating holy moments, there's something wrong with that. And it can be everywhere, it can be in our marriage, it can be in every environment, it can be a way of elevating everything we do.


Jack Beers:

You write in here that your dream for the book is to unleash a tidal wave of holy moments. And then actually there's more to it. You say by raising an amazing grassroots movement to transform our culture one holy moment at a time. What gives you hope that, that's possible? And what does that look like?


Matthew Kelly:

It's the only solution. And I think it's important to be clear about that. It isn't one of many solutions. It isn't one option. It's not like, oh, here's six options for the solutions to our problems as individuals, as a church and as a world, pick whichever one of the six you want. This is the only one. It is the solution. And I've known that my whole life. I think I probably have not spoken as boldly about it as I should have in retrospect, but this is the solution to our problems. And that's obviously an enormous statement. And I do think it is important to break it down. But if people have like, let's say a troubled relationship, how many holy moments would it take to turn that relationship around? Okay. I don't know. It might be one, it might be 10, it might be 10,000. I don't know.


But I do know that if you pour enough holy moments into that relationship, it will transform that relationship. And the whole world is just a multiplication of one relationship. And so what can transform a single relationship can transform the world because that's what the world is. It's us relating with each other, formally, informally, as individuals, as groups, as families, and of course, as nations.


Jack Beers:

People have loved for a long time. The quote that mother Teresa has, which is, "You want to change the world? Go home and love your family." And at one sense I love it, in another sense I thought it was frustrating because I've always felt like, "Okay, I'm in either one of two states in my life, which is one, what am I supposed to do with my life? Like, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know where I'm going. I don't know what's next. I need to figure this thing out. Or God has answered that question.


I'm in that thing." And now I'm like, "Well, how do I do this?" And it feels like holy moments is the answer to that question. When my kids come to me like, "Dad, what do you think I should do with my life?" This is the answer. It's like, "Well, I'm not exactly sure. You've got this, but at this state of your life, the answer that you could... Is holy moments. Just start having holy moments, just start creating some holy momentum in your life. And amazing things will happen."


That was kind of what I took from it. And the practical aspect of it and how you kind of build this tidal wave of goodness in your own life. Because I feel like I can get so busy getting bogged down on the idea of these questions. What am I doing or where am I going or what's happening that I forget to live into the answers. Do you think that will help build this holy momentum if we stop sort of getting distracted by these things and just focus on this concept for a while?


Matthew Kelly:

Yes. But again, I think holy moments is the answer to those questions. So you are asking those questions, "What should I do with my life? How is the best way to live? Should I do this or should I do that? I've got this opportunity and this possibility. And what should say yes to what should I say no to?" And you've got a whole world of people who are asking very similar questions, right? In one way or another. And when that person came to mother Teresa and asked her that question, that person was representing the whole world.


Everyone who had ever lived and everyone who will ever live, who have all of those questions. And all of those questions, what we're really saying is I want to see more clearly. I want clarity. I'm confused. I'm living in a world of chaos. In that confusion and chaos, I want clarity. And what mother Teresa was doing was providing a starting point saying, "If you want clarity, start here." She wasn't saying, "This is the only thing you ever do.", When we get into that chaos, when we get into confusion, when we feel overwhelmed, what we need is a starting point and great leaders give us that starting point.


And that's what she did in that quote. And that's what she did in her life and in her work. And really in so much of her writings, which primarily was speeches. Holy moments is the pathway to clarity. I don't care what your question is, okay? Whatever question you are trying to answer in your life, whatever question you're wrestling with in your head, heart or soul create holy... Every holy moment you collaborate with God to create will bring more clarity to that question. And so it is multidimensional. It is a path to clarity, and it is a path out of the chaos and confusion of our lives in the world into the clarity that God wants us to live and thrive in.


Jack Beers:

You said a couple of things I want to circle back on. I think the first one is, you were talking about how people will say, "I'm just one person. What can I really do?" When holy moments get put in light of the enormous problems that are facing our culture and our world and even in the messiness of our own individual lives. And I want to circle back to that because I've heard you say that people are not just underestimating themselves. They're also underestimating God. What do you mean when you say that?


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. So firstly, I think it's important to recognize that the mess was created by individuals. It wasn't some grand conspiracy. It wasn't some great collaboration of millions and millions of people getting together and saying, "All right, let's make this world a really big mess." It was individuals choosing unholy moments, turning their back on holy moments, choosing unholy moments. That created the mess. They were individual people. And it's the multiplication of individual people and their choices that led us to where we are today.


We want to believe that there's some big solution that will liberate us from taking on our personal responsibility and doing our part to bring about the desired outcome, the desired result, there isn't. The only way from where we are to where we want to be is individuals who are responsible, responding to situations in ways that improve themselves, improve other people, and improve the world, create holy moments. So I think that's the first thing that's important to understand in relation to your question.


And then in relation to the concept that we underestimate ourselves, I think that's easy for people to see. I think we see that in ourselves, but we do also underestimate God. And as a writer, my craft, my responsibility is to get you to think about ageless things in new ways. Sometimes words and phrases can do that. And life is messy. We saw that in things like, Don't Waste Your Gold Dust. Mm. Here we see it. I think in phrases like sole potential.


And we see it in the concept of don't underestimate God, because he doesn't underestimate you, and he understands your sole potential. He's not confused about that. We're the ones that are confused about that. And when we say, "I'm only one person," we're underestimating what God can do in us and through us and in collaboration with us. And there's plenty of evidence in history of how powerful that can be, when one person open themselves to God, sets their personal preferences aside, and allows God to direct the moments of their life.


Jack Beers:

Well, it's almost the same story, if you look at all of the saints at their core, and that's what we're looking at, right? We're looking at people who asked God, collaborated with God and set aside self-interest and then responded. That is it at its core, right? Am I missing something?


Matthew Kelly:

Absolutely. I didn't dream this stuff up. I just have extracted it from history and from personal experience and tried to present it in a way that people can integrate into their lives.


Jack Beers:

One of the aspects of the book that I've never heard you speak on before is spiritual multiplication and what God can do. God's math versus our math. How does holy moments unleash and collaborate with God in a way that defies our standard human math?


Matthew Kelly:

Yeah. We think that we have to do everything. That's the first obstacle or trip rope that we come up against. We very rarely think about the invisible effects that we have. So if you do something that is kind and thoughtful and generous and caring for somebody, the chances of them doing something that's kind and thoughtful and generous and caring for somebody else exponentially increase, and in fact, almost guaranteed. Particularly around generosity, which we've done a lot of study around. People who are the recipients of generosity tend to become much more generous.


And it's a fairly short sort of feedback loop or repetition loop. They don't wait 10 years to be generous with somebody else. They tend to become generous with other people fairly quickly. The same thing with holy moments is that people who are the recipients of a holy moment or encounter a holy moment, tend to then turn around fairly quickly and replicate that in their lives. And so God's math is that multiplication is okay if you teach two people how to create holy moments and they teach two people to create holy moments and they teach two people to create holy moments. The multiplication of this is unfathomable.


I do the math in the book because I think for people to actually see the math can be mind blowing. And it really is sort of the spiritual expression of something... Well, other powerful things, like let's say compounding interest, which we understand, that's incredibly powerful, positive or negative, right? You get on the wrong side of compounding interest with credit card debt or whatever, that can destroy you, right? And the same with holy moments, the same with spiritual multiplication, you get on the right side of it, and it is very, very powerful force to unleash in this world.


Jack Beers:

Well, there's a momentum to it, right?


Matthew Kelly:

Yes.


Jack Beers:

One of the things you write here is that holy moments will make you insanely happy. And there are so many people in the world searching for happiness as a state. Enough momentum in their life that they're happy. And you write that holy moments make you insanely happy. Cognitively, it's like a process that causes you to put yourself interest aside is going to make you insanely happy and is going to create this amazing positive momentum in your life and in the life of everybody that your holy moments touch. It's a bold promise. How does that happen? How does holy moments make you insanely happy? Does it really