25 QUESTIONS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE

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St. Augustine

Our God is a God of new beginnings, a God of fresh starts, and I love that because we all need a new beginning from time to time. We all need a fresh start from time to time, and it's a source of great hope for us. As we make our journey through Lent, and as we explore the lives of these different saints and the lessons of these different saints, one of the things we're going to discover is that God gave them all a new beginning. God gave them all a fresh start.

In fact, in many cases, God gave them many of those things. And we begin today with Augustine who was a great sinner. I mean, Augustine was a massive sinner. We talk about him today as a great saint, right? Oscar Wilde said, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” And Augustine had a massive future. And it's important for us to recognize that because there's hope in that. I look at Augustine, and I think, "Wow, if God can do that with him, he can do something with me."

And the first question I pose in the book is, "What do you believe about your past that is keeping you from your future?" What do you believe about your past that's keeping you from your future? Because we all have self-limiting beliefs. We all have self-limiting beliefs that are not from God, that are not holy, that are not humble. They've stopped us from being all God created us to be. They stopped from becoming a-better-version-of-ourselves today.

And in those self-limiting beliefs, we experience what Augustine describes in his most famous quote: this restlessness. Augustine wrote, "Our hearts are restless, oh Lord, until they rest in you." And so as we begin this journey together, I encourage you to find a quiet place today for a few moments and just rest with God. Just be with God. It doesn't matter what you say. Just sit, and be with God because one of the great, great benefits of our spirituality is this restfulness. We live in a restless world, and God invites us to peace, to calm, to quiet. And one of the lessons I really want us to drill down on over the next forty days is how do we learn to rest with God. How do we learn to rest in God? Because from that will come an explosion of goodness in ourselves, in our lives, and that we can take out to the world.

St. Walter

In our journey with God, there are many different seasons. There are some times in our lives when we're hungry to pray, we’re hungry to learn, we’re hungry to be with God. There are other times in our lives when we're not. There are times in our lives where certain types of spirituality engages us, and there are other times in our lives where those very same things that brought us great enthusiasm and great passion leave us dry and desolate. And so it's important to recognize the seasons in our spirituality.

One of the great seasons in my spiritual journey was when my first child was born. When my first son was born, I had this overwhelming experience, realization. I had just this sense that—okay hold on a minute—here's this little guy; I love him so much; but I am weak and broken and flawed with a bunch of failings. And if I can love this child this much, considering all my brokenness and all my imperfection, well then, how much does God love us? And it was in this experience that the infinite love of God really knocked me over the head. And through two weeks maybe, I would go to my prayer time, and half the days, I would just cry. I would just be like, "Wow." And he gave me this grace—in this season of my spirituality, he gave me this grace of just being immersed in his love, which was very, very powerful.

And so as we talk about resting in God, it's important that we understand this foundational truth, that God does love us. And to get to that truth, think about—who is the person or who are the people that you love more than anything else? And think about how great your love is for that person or those people. And then think about how weak and how broken and how flawed and how imperfect you are.

 

And think about the idea that, if you can love this person or these people this much, how much greater is God's love for you? And then immerse yourself in that love.

The question that I raise in the chapter about Walter in the book—about Walter, my son, and about St. Walter—is have you ever allowed yourself to rest in God's love? I think very often, we live in a culture that's obsessed with action, with activity. We've got to do something. And God is not calling us first to do anything. He's calling us first to be. He's calling us first to be with him, just to be with him. And then he's calling us to be who he created us to be. And then the doing of our life, the action of our life, is a natural explosion that comes from being with God and being and becoming who he created us to be.

 

 

The Desert

In the Gospel tomorrow, this epic reading is of Jesus going out into the desert for forty days. In all of our promotions for Best Lent Ever, we talk about the idea of "Don't give up chocolate for Lent this year," which is obviously designed to get people's attention. But more than that, it's to get us thinking beyond this cultural norm of, "Okay, I'm going to give up chocolate for Lent this year, I'm going to lose five pounds, and then I'm going to gain six and a half pounds back on Easter Sunday.” And millions and millions of people give up chocolate for Lent each year, but why? Because they've always done it? Or why? Because they want to lose weight? Or because they really want to become more attuned to God and the Holy Spirit? Or why? Because our spirituality lacks creativity? And if you gave up chocolate for Lent, that's great. There's nothing wrong with that. But to do it with great intentionality is what we're trying to encourage people to do here at Dynamic Catholic—not just to do things, but to do things and understand why do we do them. How do they draw us closer to God? How do they help us become the-best-version-of-ourselves? And so to do them with great intentionality. 

 

But Jesus goes out into the desert, and he fasts for forty days. He gives something up. And when we say, "Don't give up chocolate for Lent this year," we don't say, "Don't give anything up for Lent this year." But we want you to fast in a very meaningful, very intentional way. We do want you to give something up. We don't want to tell you what to give up because you know. What is the one thing you could do this Lent that would have not just a little, incremental shift in your life and your spirituality? What would be a game-changer for your life and your spirituality? What would happen if you gave that up for Lent? And I know we're already a few days into it, and we feel like, "Oh, I already got my plan." Maybe the Spirit's calling you to change your plan. Maybe the Spirit's calling you not to be so rigid. Maybe the Spirit's calling you to understand that sometimes you need to change plans midstream.

St. Irenaeus

When was the last time you felt fully alive? One of my favorite saints, one of the saints that had most impact on me, St. Irenaeus, and really around this single quote that "the glory of God is man fully alive." The thing I love about it is that it could have been written yesterday. It could have been written this morning. It's absolutely timeless. And that timelessness, I think, it points to a really core, central truth—it's not a fad, it's not passing, it's going to be as true fifty years from now, five hundred years from now as it was five hundred years ago—is that if we want to give glory to God, yes, we can do that in lots of ways by loving our neighbor, by going to church. But all of that is empty and hollow if we're not being and becoming who he created us to be, you know?

 

And so we ultimately give glory to God by becoming more perfectly who he created us to be. And serving the poor and going to church and any kind of spiritual activity should lend itself to that: should help us become more fully alive, should help us become a-better-version-of-ourselves, should help us become more perfectly who God created us to be. 

 

The question, I think, he lays before us in our reflection today is what is it going to take for you to feel fully alive? What is it that's preventing you from being fully alive? It may be something around your spiritual life, it may also be something in your emotional life, might be something in your relationships, maybe something in your intellectual life, maybe something in your physical life. It could be in any aspect of you as a person. It can be in any aspect of your life. But whatever it is that's stopping you from being fully alive, God wants to work on that with you. He doesn't stay up in the heavens and shout down to us and say, "Hey, work on that." No, he wants to come shoulder-to-shoulder with you and me, and he wants to work on that, whatever that is. And you don't need me to tell you what it is for you. I don't need you to tell me what it is for me because, when we open our hearts to the questions, God reveals that to us.

St. Benedict

Think about busy. Everyone's busy, right? It seems people get busier and busier all the time. Busy is not your friend. Busy is not your friend. Busy is bad, okay? It's okay to be busy sometimes. But to be busy, busy, busy, busy all the time—busy is bad in that context. Busy isn't your friend. Busy is not your friend. And you know what? It is hard to be a good person, it is hard to grow in virtue, it is hard to live the Christian life when we're busy all the time. I know that from my own experience. I know when I'm super, super busy, it's really hard for me to be patient with anything or anyone, you know? I get impatient. The busier I get, the more impatient I get. Which means what? The busier I get, the less Christian I become. 

 

So it's time for us just to recognize, okay, busy is not our friend. And then once we realized that we think, okay, we've got to do something about that. Well, this is great saint, Benedict, who worked this out. He realized that our daily routines were critical in setting us up for success or setting us up for failure, especially our daily routines at the beginning of the day. Because when we do take a few moments to reflect on our day, at the beginning of our day, we realize—okay, hold on a minute—what's the really important stuff I'm going to do today? And what's the stuff that doesn't matter that much? And we're able to prioritize.

 

And in some ways, love is a priority exercise. I've talked before about the idea that love transforms people because love changes our priorities. When we fall in love, our priorities change. And so God is constantly challenging us to love more, and in challenging us a lot more, he's constantly challenging us to reassess our priorities. And our priorities spring forth from those daily routines. 

 

And so what I want to challenge you to think about today is your daily priorities, especially those at the beginning of the day. Do they focus you? Do they reinvigorate you? Do they fill you with a sense of hope? Or do the things you fill your early part of the day with burden you, make you feel heavy and hopeless, that sort of thing? 

 

If you're doing this, if you're watching this video every day at the beginning of the day, how is it making you feel? How is it changing your day? Do you recognize—hey, if I watch it at the beginning of the day, my days are better than if I leave it until 11 o'clock at night? Are you aware of that? How the Spirit is moving within you just in relation to this one little daily routine that you've adopted for these 40 days? Hopefully, it's re-invigorating you. Hopefully, that challenges you to bring it further and further up into the beginning of your day, and hopefully, on those days when you don't feel like doing it, it gives you the courage, the strength, the wisdom to say, "Okay, I don't feel like doing it, but I have better days when I do it. So I'm going to force myself. I'm going to sit down and watch this three minute video.” 

 

Daily routines have a powerful impact on our lives, and we have to start to realize busy is not our friend. 

St. Teresa of Avila

The question I want to lay before you today is have you ever been taught how to pray? One of the things we discovered at Dynamic Catholic in our research is the great majority of people have never been taught how to pray. 

 

For the first decade of the life of Dynamic Catholic, we're working on these Catholic Moments programs. We just released the program on Baptism and parenting, and before that we released the First Communion program, the First Reconciliation program, the Confirmation program, the marriage enrichment program, the marriage prep program, and, of course, BEST LENT EVER and BEST ADVENT EVER every year. These programs are core to the life of the Church and to the life of Catholics. 

 

This year, I'm working on the program around daily prayer, and it's been a fabulous experience. I've been working on it sort of on the side for a couple of years, but it's my focus for this year. And one of the things I realized: if I could only spend the rest of my life talking about one topic, or if I could only teach people one thing for the rest of my life—every book, every speech, everything—would be about how to pray and the fruits of prayer and the challenges of prayer because I don't think anything has more impact on our lives than when we truly begin to pray, when we truly give prayer a place of priority in our daily lives.

 

And in Rediscover the Saints, I say that Teresa of Avila taught me how to pray. Now, obviously I wasn't alive when Teresa of Avila was alive, and I have not had mystical visions of Teresa of Avila in which she taught me how to pray, but by reading about her and reading about her life and reading about how she prayed, she taught me how to pray. And central to her experience of prayer was simply talking to God—just talking to God. And very often that's the piece that we take out of prayer or that's the piece that we neglect in prayer. 

 

And so what I want to encourage you to do today, just like Teresa of Avila—I want you to talk to God. If you've had an experience of the Prayer Process then you understand you go through the seven steps of the Prayer Process. It's designed (A) to teach people how to pray (B) to give people a format for prayer so that they don't sit down in prayer and think, “Okay, what do I do now?” because that's what happens if we haven't really been taught how to pray. But also, what the Prayer Process does—it ignites this conversation between you and God in a whole different range of topics and a whole different range of aspects of your life. And so my prayer for you today, my prayer for me today, is that we can learn to talk to God. That we can learn to be honest in our prayer, brutally honest, simply honest, and just talk to God as if he was a friend just sitting on the couch across from us. 

St. Ignatius of Loyola

I first met Ignatius of Loyola during my third visit to the United States. I'd been invited to speak at Georgetown University, and I had heard the name Ignatius of Loyola at different points throughout my life, but it's one of the things I talk about in the book—the idea that the saints can be there in our lives, and then they move into our lives, teach us powerful lessons, and very often move out of our lives, and other things come with other lessons and other experiences.

 

And so, I encountered Ignatius of Loyola very powerfully during this trip to the United States and began to read his book and read about his life and was fascinated with a connection between something that was happening in society, something that was happening in the business world, and the life and the work of Ignatius of Loyola. 

 

At the time, there was a lot of talk about EQ, a lot of talk about emotional intelligence. I'm reading the life and work of Ignatius of Loyola, and I realize—Wow, hold on a minute—this guy is the father of emotional intelligence. This is the guy. He's the person who said: When you go to pray, do you experience consolation or desolation? He's the guy who said: Okay, when you encounter people, how does the Spirit move you? Does the Spirit give you good feeling or bad feelings? Or when you have certain experiences or whatever happens in your life, how is the Spirit moving within you? What's happening within you because God is speaking to you in many, many different ways?

 

And what Ignatius says was one of the ways he speaks to us is through our moods, through our feelings, through all these sort of emotional experiences.

 

And it was really a very, very powerful experience for me. It had a very profound experience on me, on my life, on my writing, on my speaking, in just so many different ways—and of course, in my prayer because when we go to pray we have different experiences every day. And we don't necessarily know how to process those different experiences. And everything about our spirituality is designed to increase our awareness to make us more aware of what's happening within us, and what's happening around us and what's happening within other people. It's an astounding gift. Emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence, this incredible spiritual awareness is an incredible gift that comes from spending time with God in the classroom of silence. So let's stay committed to that, to making that time where we sit with God, where we be with God, and when we allow God to tune us in to his station so that we can be aware of how he's leading us, guiding us, challenging us, encouraging us every single day of our lives. 

A Mountaintop Experience

In tomorrow's Gospel, Jesus takes Peter and James and John up the mountain for one of these astounding mountaintop experiences. And I have had experiences like this in my own spiritual life. I'm sure we all have had some type of mountaintop experience in our spiritual life. I've witnessed thousands of people have a mountaintop experiences like this on our pilgrimages. They come on pilgrimage, they come on sacred journey, and they have one of these mountaintop experiences. And it's incredible to witness, even if it's not happening to you. It's incredible to witnesses these other people having these mountaintop experiences on these pilgrimages. 

 

So they’re up on the mountain—Jesus, Peter, James, John. Elisha, Moses show up. Peter says, "It is good that we are here." And his next response: Hey, let's build some tents. I think there's a really profound lesson here for us because, very often when we experience something spiritual, the first thing we want to do is make it material. Very often, when we experience something incredible, the first thing we want to do is to materialize it. 

 

You see this with travelers. One of the things I always talk to the pilgrims about on pilgrimage usually at the beginning—and if I'm not traveling with them, I usually send them messages—you got to decide: are you going to be a pilgrim, or are you going to be a tourist? And Peter's being a tourist here. It's like let's build some tent, let's get some souvenirs, let's materialize this spiritual experience." 

 

And of course, Jesus doesn't even respond to that because the experience becomes even more powerful. We hear the voice of God the Father: "This is my beloved Son in whom I'm well pleased. Listen to him." And that's where I want to focus us where I experience at Church tomorrow. The voice of God the Father says, "Listen to him." Are we? Are we listening to Jesus? Are you listening to Jesus? When is the last time you really turned to Jesus and said, "All right, Jesus, what do you think? What do you think I should do in this situation? What should I be thinking about this situation or opportunity or experience or circumstance? What do you think, Jesus?" When is the last time you cracked your Bible open to the Gospels midweek and just started reading the life and teachings of Jesus and listening deeply to what Jesus has to say to you because he has a message for you and for me every single day of our lives? The question is not is Jesus speaking to us. The question is are we listening.

St. Francis of Assisi

The saint we are exploring today in the book and in our time together is Saint Francis of Assisi. He had a great life. He didn't want for things. His family wasn't super wealthy, but they weren't super poor. He had things. He had experiences. He had opportunities. He was popular. He had a good life. And in the midst of that, he had a real emptiness. He was aware—had this emotional intelligence, this spiritual awareness—that, okay, all of this has gone really well. Why do I still feel like this inside? Why do I still feel empty? Why do I still feel like something really important is missing? Not just that something is missing, but something really important is missing.  And so he sort of focused in on this dissatisfaction and began to ask, "All right. What does that mean? I've got this dissatisfaction, what is it that it means?"

 

And so I think the question he raises for us and the lesson he comes to teach us, is that God is speaking to us through our dissatisfaction. What is it that you are dissatisfied with at this time in your life? And what is God saying to you through that dissatisfaction? And when you become aware of that dissatisfaction, or when you have a moment where you really encounter that dissatisfaction and it really gets to you, what is God saying? What is he calling you to think differently, do differently? What's he saying through that dissatisfaction? 

 

And we're not going to work that out in five minutes. It's an invitation into the classroom of silence. It might be an invitation: go out into the desert, like Jesus, to find a quiet place for a little bit longer than you usually spend in your daily prayer, to really lay that dissatisfaction before God and say, "Hey, God. I'm open. Talk to me. What are you saying to me here?" And so when you go into your time of prayer today, to really reflect upon what is it that you're dissatisfied within your life, and what is God saying to you through that dissatisfaction?

St. Thomas More

We've been talking about the saints and how they come in and out of our lives at different times to teach us different lessons. I encountered Thomas More when I was in high school. And I became intrigued with him. I became fascinated with him. He became sort of a symbol, a beacon, of integrity—I  think—around many, many aspects and situations in my life because he just had this enormous integrity. He was not going to betray his God, but he also was not going to betray himself. He saw his self as something very real, very tangible, and a great gift from God. And he wasn't going to betray his self.

 

And I think very often we do turn our back on our selves. I think very often we do betray our selves in lots of ways and lots of circumstances, and we lose a sliver of our integrity each time we do. Thomas Moore was this man of enormous integrity. What does that mean to you and me? Yes, there's something about being honest; there's something about walking with God; there's something about being in alignment with our conscience. But I think there's another piece, and that is in order to be a man or a woman of integrity also requires that we live an integrated life. And if you look at the Gospels, and if you look at our spirituality, it is a constant invitation to live an integrated life. And when we do feel distressed, when we do feel unhappy, when we do feel dissatisfied, when we do feel just stress, they're fairly good indications that we've stepped away from the integrated life. They're parts of our lives that are not integrated with the whole. There are parts of our lives that are not integrated with the person that God created us to be and is calling us to be. 

 

And so having integrity as a person and living an integrated life are connected. And the question I think Thomas Moore lays before us today—two questions actually—one is what parts of your life are lacking integrity? And in what ways are you not living an integrated life? Because I think if we face those questions openly, honestly, if we go to prayer and we ask ourselves which parts of my life are lacking integrity, and then if we ask God to partner with us to work on that, and then if we ask ourselves which parts of our lives are not integrated, then we start to see an opportunity. We start to see a path towards the bigger, better future that God is inviting us to.

St. John the Apostle

You know in the chapter today, we talk about John the Apostle who had an incredible relationship with Jesus. You put twelve guys together with Jesus, they're all going to have different relationships with him. That's just the nature of relationship. That's the nature of personality. That's the nature of God and the creativity of God. He finds different ways to relate with each and every single one of us, but it's clearly pointed out in the Gospels that John had a unique relationship with Jesus. And when we read that, what does that make you feel? What does that make you think? Does it make you think, “I wonder what that was like? I would really like to have a relationship with Jesus like John did.” Or does it make you think: I want to have an incredible relationship with Jesus, but I want it to be creatively different according to however Jesus wants that to be? 

 

But I'm not sure we think about it. Is your relationship with Jesus better this year than it was last year? If you think yes, how do you measure that? If you think no, how do you measure that? And obviously, it's impossible to measure definitively, but I think we have a sense. I think it's good for us to check in from time to time. 

 

One of the reasons it's important because relationships are central to life. In one of my earliest books, A Call to Joy, I talked about the idea that essentially we never have better relationships with people than we have with God. Because we learn all our relationship skills, we learn so much of that from our relationship with God, especially the big stuff like forgiveness, the big stuff like listening. We learn so much of that from our relationship with God. So it's very hard for us to have better relationships with other people than we have with God. So if we're not investing in our relationship with God, that places a governor, that places is a limit on our relationships with other people. 

 

Jesus, in a very unique way, teaches us how to be a good friend. And if there's one thing society needs today, it needs really good friends, you know? I think that more and more people realize that, wow, they could do with some really, really good friends. But I'm not sure that we'd know how to be that great friend to other people. I'm not sure that we've honed that skill, that we're aware of what does that take. And so, in many ways today, John the disciple and Jesus are inviting us to learn how to be a great friend. 

St. Martha

The first parish I belonged to, my childhood parish, was St. Martha's in suburban Sydney. And obviously, Martha is famous in the Gospels—a couple of very powerful scenes there—but St. Martha always reminds me of this really very powerful experience of parish I had—very vibrant community I had primarily as a teenager.

 

One of the things I've realized is we all have this great yearning for community. We're created for community—created for relationship—and we're created for community, and this is one of the areas as a Church where we really have a great opportunity to grow and to become better, to become hungry for excellence. 

 

Our newest initiative here at Dynamic Catholic is our Dynamic Parish initiative, which we spent the first decade building the Catholic Moments, we dedicated the second decade to Dynamic Parish, which essentially is the work of, okay, how do you take a parish from wherever they are and turn it into a place of excellence, turn it into a dynamic and vibrant experience for people who come to church there on Sunday, and that becomes a place of intrigue. So people who live down the street might think about, "Oh, maybe I should go back to church," and they see things. They see life in this parish, and they think, "Wow, there's something going on there." And, so I'm fascinated with the life of a parish. I'm fascinated with the work the team here is doing on Dynamic Parish, and it ties so directly into our hunger for community.

 

What I want you to think about today, what I want you to reflect upon today—because these videos are really just starting a conversation, a conversation in your heart, mind, and soul, and hopefully a conversation with you and other people in your life and in your community and in your circle of influence—but the question I want you to reflect upon today is do you belong to a vibrant faith community? Is your community a vibrant faith community? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Whether it is or it isn't, it probably can be better in a hundred different ways. And so the follow-up question is what can you do? How can you become more involved, or more strategically or intentionally involved, to help your parish become a vibrant community, to help your parish become a dynamic parish? Because the reality is every single person wants to come to a dynamic parish, even the people who only come once a year at Christmas. What kind of parish do they want to come to at Christmas? A dynamic parish. And so one of the great challenges we have as a Church at this moment in history is how do we create dynamic parishes? And again, that is not somebody's problem over there, or up there, or somewhere else. That's your problem and my problem, your opportunity and my opportunity. So what do we need to do to help create a dynamic parish right where you are for you and your family to visit every single Sunday?

Encountering Jesus

Tomorrow, we hear the story of the woman at the well. When Jesus shows up at the well, she got this attitude of like “what are you doing here." So she ignores him, and many people, when they first encounter God, they sort of ignore him, right? And then Jesus engages her—tries to engage her. She's very standoffish. Very often, when God tries to engage us, we're very standoffish. And Jesus asks her for some water and she's like: Well, you don't have a bucket. And he says: Well, I'll give you water, a different type of water. She's like: Well, where are you going to get that from? Again, don't have a bucket. 

 

And so she goes from ignoring him to being standoffish to being curious to being skeptical. Okay, where are you going to get this living water from? You tell me if I have this living water then I won't never be thirsty ever again. Where are you going to get that living water from? And you don't even have a bucket.

 

And of course, here in this particular part of her journey, we see very clearly that she's trying to apply human thinking to a spiritual reality, that she's trying to materialize a spiritual reality, when the reality is that Jesus' water doesn't need a bucket. Or the water that Jesus is talking about doesn't need a bucket. And so she goes from ignoring him to being standoffish to this curiosity to this skepticism. It's like: How are you going to do that?

 

And then he tells her about her life. And that, of course, captures her imagination. That intrigues her. It's like: Hold on a minute; this guy just showed up in town, and he knows about me, and he knows about my life. And at that point, she calls him a prophet, which in and of itself is a profession of faith, a minor profession of faith, because she acknowledges: Okay, you've got a gift; you're a prophet; you've been sent by God. And then she goes to her friends, to her family, to the village and says: Hey, come and check this guy out; he told me all about my life. And as the people encounter him, as the people react to him, they then begin to refer to him as the Messiah.

 

And so in this one reading, we see this whole journey from ignoring God to being standoffish with God to being curious about God to being skeptical about God to believing in God and, of course, to being open to God's ways and God's plans. And so much is accomplished in so short a time in this one story in the Bible. And this, of course, is just one way to look at it, just one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is to compare our journey with the woman's journey. How will you listen to the Gospel when you're in mass tomorrow? 

St. Vincent de Paul

When I was in high school (last couple of years of high school) they used to take us to this homeless shelter on Friday nights, and it was in downtown Sydney in a really rough area. And the homeless shelter was run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and it was a really uncomfortable experience, awkward experience, difficult experience. I think, for most of us as teenagers, just to go into that environment on a Friday night, and we used to feed the men—it was a shelter for men—we used to feed the men their dinner and then sit with the men and talk to them. And I think it was profound, and I think it was disturbing, and it was a really good piece of our education and I'm very, very grateful, in hindsight, that our teachers decided to make that part of our education because it was very powerful and it does have staying power. It is something that I remember. It is something that my friends remember. We talk about it from time to time. 

 

It's impossible to read the Gospels and not recognize that Jesus loved poor people and that he had an enormous compassion for our humanity. Usually when we talk about poor people, we think about people who don't have stuff or don't have food or don't have money, but the reality is that we're all poor in our own way. We're all dealing with a form or a type of poverty. Very often, we're unaware of it, of course. But the Gospel challenges us to say when Jesus heals the blind man—the Gospel challenges us to say: okay, in what ways am I the blind man? When Jesus cures the deaf person it challenges us to think about in what ways am I the deaf person. What have I been deaf to in my life? And when Jesus cures the lepers, he challenges us to say: okay, in what ways am I a leper, or in what ways have I made other people lepers, socially, politically, economically, or in any other way shape or form?


And so poverty is much more universal than not having food or stuff. And so the Gospel is an invitation to explore our own poverty, and in many ways, it's by exploring our own poverty and understanding our own poverty that we develop compassion for everybody else in their particular type of poverty because we realize one of the most radical truths of Christianity, one of the most radical truths of Jesus's teachings, which is the idea that we're all in this together. And the radical generosity of St. Vincent de Paul, the radical life he lived by engaging with the poor and the poorest of the poor, materially poor, challenges us to remember that we're all in this together and there can't be some winners and some losers. We all win or we all lose, and that is a very radical truth in our society today, just as radical as it was 2,000 years ago. It has not lost its flavor.    

St. Harry 

We named our second son Harry, Harold James, after my mother's father. Grandpa Harry—he was a fine man; he was a man of great character, great integrity; and he was a very quiet man. He came back from the second World War—he just became a very quiet man, hard-working, took care of his family, worked out in his workshop. I remember going into his workshop in his garage, and he could make anything; he could fix anything; it was like he had magical powers. As kids, me and my brothers would go to visit my grandparents. And Grandpa had this place where he could make anything or fix anything. So if we ever broke anything, my parents would say, "Well, put that aside. We'll take that on Sunday when we go to grandpa's house, and he'll help you fix that." 

 

A beautiful thing was, we'd go, we'd come with something we'd broken, and first thing Grandpa would is ask was like, “Well, how did this happen?" And it was obviously very clear, very often, that whatever needed to be fixed had been mistreated, sometimes maybe in an extreme way. And that's the nature of having seven brothers and a lot of, sort of, things going on. But his first question would be well like, "How did this happen?" And then we'd have to tell him the story, and he'd usually get a giggle out of that. He could fix it—I mean he could fix it in two minutes on his own—but that wasn't his way. His way was always to involve us, to have us fix it with him helping, with him supervising. And so those experiences were—they were great experiences, but they were very educational.

 

And so we named our second son Harold James, after my mom's father. And very little is known about St. Harold. We know that he was murdered as a child in England. And we don't really know that much more. And on hand, we might say, "Well, that's a tragedy." And on another hand, we might say, "Okay well, that's good." Because not every saint has to be a superstar. Most saints are not superstars. Most saints go about their lives; they do their thing; they live with honesty and integrity and love their family and love their friends. And most saints pass through this world unproclaimed. And it's very, very, very important that we recognize that—only a tiny, minuscule portion of saints get canonized and end up in books and things like that—because without that understanding it can distort how we think about the saints. It can distort what we think a saint is. And so these anonymous saints remind us it's just about doing what God puts in front of you each day. It's about doing those things with great love, with great compassion, with great encouragement for others. It's just about doing what is put in front of you each day.

 

And it's about that, you know? So the question I ask you in the book and in the journal is, "When was the last you did something with your whole heart?” When was the last time you did something with your whole heart? When was the last time you put your whole heart into something? Because that's what the saints teach us. They teach us to put our whole heart into whatever God has put in front of us today.

St. John Vianney

One of my favorite saints is John Vianney, and I think there's just so many reasons, but one of the reasons is just his commitment to the humanity of people. He was almost kicked out of seminary because he couldn't learn his lessons, couldn't pass his tests. Some person intervened for him and basically said to the bishop, "Well, he's a good man. He's got a good spirituality. He loves God. He loves people. Let's ordain him, and we'll send him into nowhere to some little rural parish. And keep him out of harm's way or limit the damage he could do," or whatever the thinking was.

 

And so they sent him to this village of Ars, and the people came. His goodness was so magnetic, that people just started coming there. So many people came there that the French government built a railway line, off the main railway line, straight into the village of Ars just so that people could get there. So many people were going there every day, every week, every month to see this parish priest, and he would hear confessions for ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day—just talk to people. He would be with people. He would bring God to people. 

 

And what the saints teach us, what John Vianney teaches us, is that incredible possibilities that exist for us are not dependent on our gifts, our talents, our abilities. Very often, when we plan our lives, we put a plan together in accord with our gifts, our talents, our abilities, our desires, that sort of thing. But then when we invite God into our lives, when we realize that God has a better plan for us, everything changes. We realize, wow, that's a tiny, little insignificant plan we've put together for ourselves because God sees all these amazing possibilities that we don't see, and God reveals these amazing plans to us.

 

The question is how detached are we to our own plans? Are we willing to step back from our own plans? Are we willing to detach from our own plans and turn to God and say, "All right, God, what is your plan for me today? What is your plan for me this year? What is your plan for my life?" And then to ask the big question: God, what is it that you want me to do? What is it that you are calling me to, inviting me to? Because He sees things we don't see. He sees things we don't see, and if we're too attached to our own little plans, we miss out on his amazing possibilities.

 

So as you go into your quiet time with God today, I just encourage you to pray this short, simple prayer: Lord, I am open to your amazing possibilities. Lord, I am open to your amazing possibilities

St. Thomas the Apostle

In our journey with the saints, today we come across Doubting Thomas, as he is traditionally known. There's two great lessons here for us. There's hundreds of lessons in each of the lives of the saints when we really dig into them, but two things I want to talk about today in relation to Thomas. 

 

The first one is that the whole world in all of history has labeled him, has branded him, “Doubting Thomas.” And of course in the book, I talk about all the great things he went on to do, and yet the world continues to think of him as Doubting Thomas because of this epic story in the Scriptures. I think there's a great lesson there for us because the world sees us one way, but God sees us as we really are.

And I think it's important for us to tie into that second vision more often than perhaps we do. Too often, we are concerned about what the world thinks of us but not concerned about what God thinks of us. Too often, we are obsessed with how the world sees us, when we should be thinking much more about how God sees us. We think about how we interact with the world probably more than we think about how we interact with God. And so our priorities get upside down and what the saints come to teach us is to rearrange our priorities. And I think that's one of the great lessons that Thomas teaches us.

 

The second is around doubts. We all have doubts. If we didn't have doubts, it would be certain. And if it's certain, it's not faith. And so faith and doubts go together. And often great faith and great doubts go together. We read, in many of the lives of saints, they had enormous doubts. They had periods in their life where they questioned even the very existence of God. And it's this dual nature, this relationship between faith and doubts, and so we have doubts. You have doubts. I have doubts. They pop up at different times in our lives. The question is how do we think about them; how do we approach them; how do we deal with them?

 

I think it is common for us to be defensive or for us to feel bad about having doubts. And that isn't how God wants to feel about our doubts. Our doubts are invitations to new places spiritually. Our doubts are invitations to knowing God in a new way and knowing our faith in a new way. Our doubts are always an invitation to a new place. And as we see in the story with Thomas, he had these doubts. He had great doubts. But his great doubts led him to an incredible new place in his journey. And ultimately his great doubts led him to greater faith than ever before and allowed God to send him out on an incredible mission. Doubts, they're your friends. They're an invitation. 

Is Jesus the Light of YOUR Life?

In our journey with the saints, today we come across Doubting Thomas, as he is traditionally known. There's two great lessons here for us. There's hundreds of lessons in each of the lives of the saints when we really dig into them, but two things I want to talk about today in relation to Thomas. 

 

The first one is that the whole world in all of history has labeled him, has branded him, “Doubting Thomas.” And of course in the book, I talk about all the great things he went on to do, and yet the world continues to think of him as Doubting Thomas because of this epic story in the Scriptures. I think there's a great lesson there for us because the world sees us one way, but God sees us as we really are.

And I think it's important for us to tie into that second vision more often than perhaps we do. Too often, we are concerned about what the world thinks of us but not concerned about what God thinks of us. Too often, we are obsessed with how the world sees us, when we should be thinking much more about how God sees us. We think about how we interact with the world probably more than we think about how we interact with God. And so our priorities get upside down and what the saints come to teach us is to rearrange our priorities. And I think that's one of the great lessons that Thomas teaches us.

 

The second is around doubts. We all have doubts. If we didn't have doubts, it would be certain. And if it's certain, it's not faith. And so faith and doubts go together. And often great faith and great doubts go together. We read, in many of the lives of saints, they had enormous doubts. They had periods in their life where they questioned even the very existence of God. And it's this dual nature, this relationship between faith and doubts, and so we have doubts. You have doubts. I have doubts. They pop up at different times in our lives. The question is how do we think about them; how do we approach them; how do we deal with them?

 

I think it is common for us to be defensive or for us to feel bad about having doubts. And that isn't how God wants to feel about our doubts. Our doubts are invitations to new places spiritually. Our doubts are invitations to knowing God in a new way and knowing our faith in a new way. Our doubts are always an invitation to a new place. And as we see in the story with Thomas, he had these doubts. He had great doubts. But his great doubts led him to an incredible new place in his journey. And ultimately his great doubts led him to greater faith than ever before and allowed God to send him out on an incredible mission. Doubts, they're your friends. They're an invitation. 

St. Bernard

When I set out to write Rediscover the Saints, one of the things I did was I sat down, and I tracked sort of my whole life and where had different saints come into my life and what lessons had they taught me. What questions had they raised? And sometimes they came into my life, and I didn't realize until 10 years later or 20 years later the impact they had had on my life or the question they had raised in my life. 

 

Today we read about St. Bernard, and my father's name was Bernard, and my second youngest brother was Bernard and named after Bernard of Clairvaux. And Bernard is known as sort of a reformer, as a person of renewal in the church, particularly in monastic life. And I think as we look at the faith today, as we look at the church today, as we look at the world today, we realize—wow—that there's great need for reform. There's great need for renewal today. 

 

And when we think about reform and we think about renewal, the tendency is to think about the structure of the Church or the structure of society. When we think about reform and renewal, we don't necessarily think about ourselves. But our journey toward Easter, our Lenten journey, is an invitation to reform. It's an invitation to renewal. But it's an invitation to a deeply personal type of reform and renewal God is calling us to look at our lives, to assess our lives, to see where we're at, to see where we've come from, and to see where he's calling us to, and to ask ourselves: okay, what's helping us to get where he's calling us to? And what's in the way of us getting to where he's calling us to? And what parts of our life need reforming? And what parts of our life need renewal? 

 

We're called to renewal constantly as a Christian. There's never one day when we'd wake up and said: Oh yea, we took care of that reform stuff. No, it's a constant call to renewal and a constant call to transformation that is essential to what it is to be a Christian. And in the midst of this modern world, very often these saints from hundreds and hundreds of years ago speak very powerfully into our lives. And today, that's the message of St. Bernard. It's an invitation to the joy of a simpler life.

 

 

St. Therese of Lisieux

We've been exploring the theme of amazing possibilities and how God sees things that we don't see even in ourselves. Today, we come across this incredible story, this amazing person, that just sort of encapsulates this whole message of amazing possibilities. 

 

We get seduced by the spectacular. And when there's a problem, we look at the world, we think: wow, the world's a mess; we need a huge solution to these huge problems. But you know, what the Catholic saints teach us is that it's the little things. At the end of the day, it's the little things that have massive impact. And they encourage us to set aside the seduction of the spectacular and to commit ourselves to whatever it is before us in a powerful way.   

 

Thérèse of Lisieux talked about doing little things with great love, which is right at the core of the Gospel. It's right at the core of our faith. When you think about it, these Catholic women are incredible. She lives the last nine years of her life, her whole adult life, inside a cloistered convent and becomes one of the most influential people in history. How does that happen? Because she did her little bit. She wasn't worried about other people's bit. She wasn't worried about what was going on here or there. She was focused on what is the best and highest use of my life.

 

Thérèse reminds me, in many ways, of the Ambassadors. When I look at my life and I think about the people I'm grateful for, one of the groups that stands out is the Ambassadors. I mean, we literally wouldn't be sitting here today if it wasn't for the Ambassadors. They make it all happen. And I say that sometimes to people, and I see they look at me and think: oh, I don't know if that's true. But really, it is. 

 

Ten years ago, Dynamic Catholic didn't even exist. Today, there's 15,000 parishes in the United States. More than 12,000 parishes used at least one of our programs last year. There's a million people tuning in every day to BEST LENT EVER and hundreds of other ways that Dynamic Catholic is having an enormous impact on the lives of individuals and on the life of the Church. And it's all because of the Ambassadors. 

 

What did they do? They give 10 bucks a month, they pray for the mission, and they go out and they talk about what's going on and what's available. And so when we think about what is the best and highest use of our time, talent, treasure in life, when we think about how can I do my little bit, this is one way. I think the temptation is to think: oh, we can't change the world. It's not true. We can change the world. We can change the world together. The temptation to think: oh, we can't change the Church. It's not true. We can transform the Church. We can renew the Church. We can't do it on our own, but we can do it together. So today, I want to invite you to do your little bit. I want to invite you to become an Ambassador. Click the button on the bottom of your screen, and join a group of people that is having an enormous impact on the life of the Church and on the life of millions and millions of people every single year. Don't leave your bit undone. May not be able to do everything, but we can do our little bit. And we need to decide here, now, today: I will not leave my little bit undone.

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Last fall, Pope Francis invited me to the Vatican to speak at a conference on the New Evangelization. And I began my remarks by saying, “Everybody evangelizes about something.” Some people evangelize about their favorite vacation place. Some people evangelize about their favorite restaurant, their favorite movie, their favorite musician. Some people evangelize about their new iPhone. I made the point that there are 2.5 billion iPhones on the planet today, and that didn't happen without serious evangelization. The reality is that everybody evangelizes about something. 

 

Most people do not evangelize about God and the Gospel message. Why don't we? Well, maybe it hasn't impacted us enough yet. Maybe it hasn't touched our lives deeply enough. But whatever the reason, I think it is important to understand that we do have these muscles, that we do have this gift, that we do have this ability to bring our enthusiasm about something or someone to other people. And by bringing our enthusiasm about something or someone to other people, we can have an enormous impact on their lives. We can change their lives. It's a very powerful gift, and so what we choose to focus this gift on really matters.

 

We have a similar experience with our saint today, who is Maximillian Kolbe. And if you're not familiar with the story, he was in Auschwitz and a prisoner escaped, so they decided to kill 10 prisoners to teach the prisoners a lesson. And one of the prisoners that gets chosen is a father with a family, and he's begging the guards for mercy saying, "I've got a family!" And Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest, steps up and essentially says, "I'll take his place." He lays down his life so that this other man can live. 

 

And so, the question I want to put before you today is really the question Maximilian Kolbe's life and example and witness and death puts before us. And that is what are you willing to lay your life down for? And are you laying your life down for what you intend to lay your life down for? Or are you laying your life down haphazardly for different things, different people every day, without intentionality? Because we are called to lay down our lives. We are called to lay down our lives in service, in generosity, and we're called to do it with great love and great intentionality.

 

Yesterday Matthew spoke about a group of people who like Maximillian Kolbe are laying down their lives so that millions of people can rediscover their spiritual selves. We call that group of people the Ambassadors Club. Pray about becoming a Dynamic Catholic Ambassador today, so together we can continue to do great things to reenergize your faith and your parish.

Mother Teresa

Two of the most common experiences in society today are being overwhelmed and being bored, and our faith is a cure for both of these realities. And perhaps we all fall into these things at different times in our lives. 

 

Our theme today is Mother Teresa—lived an incredible life, demonstrated again the power of if you just love who and what is before you right now and you do that a thousand times a day every day of the year you just begin to have this massive impact on your community and, in her case, ultimately on the world.

 

And in the lives of all of the saints, we find these three things: truth, beauty, and goodness. And the reality is that when there's truth, beauty, and goodness in your life, you can't be overwhelmed and you can't be bored. When there's truth, beauty, and goodness in our lives, we call to a simplicity and a balance and an integrated life.

 

When we stop making time for truth, beauty, and goodness in our lives, that's when we get kidnapped by or seduced by the things of this world and the philosophies of this world, and that's when we tend to become overwhelmed or when we tend to become bored because a life without truth, beauty, and goodness will ultimately become boring. And a life without truth, beauty, and goodness will ultimately become focused on the wrong things. And when we're focused on the wrong things, we very, very quickly become overwhelmed because—those things—they're not feeding us. They're not feeding our hearts, our minds, our souls. And when that happens, we don't have what it takes to be sustained, and so we do become overwhelmed.

 

God doesn't want us to be overwhelmed. The message of the Gospel is do not be overwhelmed. The message of the Gospel is do not worry, do not be afraid, and by extension, do not be overwhelmed. But we find ourselves overwhelmed, I think, increasingly in modern society. And so when we do, I think we have to ask ourselves: okay, what place are we giving in our day for truth, beauty, and goodness? Are we taking a few minutes to read so that we can allow some beautiful truths to come into our hearts and our minds? Are we taking some time to experience beauty, whether that's art or some other form of beauty, that inspires you in a special way? And are we taking time for goodness, to experience goodness and to share goodness, because it's by focusing on goodness that we ultimately create the good life that God is inviting us to for ourselves and for other people?

Lazarus

Tomorrow's reading is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. We're talking about amazing possibilities, and one of the things we see in this reading is just an astounding faith from Martha and Mary, who are Lazarus's sisters. And Lazarus dies; they bury him; he's been buried for days. Jesus shows up, and the sisters are like: If you had been here, Jesus, this wouldn't have happened. Firstly, that's amazing faith. That's just incredible faith. And then Jesus says: Well, he will rise from the dead. And their faith is so earnest, and it's so unentitled, because I think if we were best friends with Jesus and our brother died, and then Jesus showed up, and we said, "If you'd been here, Jesus, he wouldn't have died," and Jesus said, "He will rise," I think it's easy to have an entitled perspective and think Jesus going to raise him right now. 

 

But their faith is so earnest, and they say: We know that he will rise from the dead just like our faith has taught us, just like the Scriptures have taught us. And then of course, Jesus goes, and he raises Lazarus from the dead. And think about that. As I often say, I think we suck the humanity out of the Scriptures, and they can become boring then. And there's so much humanity in the Scriptures. Okay, think about what it is actually like to put somebody in a tomb, dead, a few days ago and then for that person to come walking out of that tomb alive. How do you process that? How do you experience that and it not have an enormous change on your life, on everything you do, on everything you think?

I think we have to ask ourselves: What part of your life needs to be raised from the dead? Because without a Messiah, without a Savior, without a resurrection, death was pretty final and pretty depressing. But Jesus comes along and says—hold on a minute—even death holds amazing possibilities. And so there might be some aspect of your life that is dead or almost dead or not working out, and I think today is a great day to turn to Jesus and say: Listen, Jesus, I really need you to resurrect this part of my life.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

St. Mary MacKillop

The saint I talk about today in the book is Mother Mary MacKillop, who was Australia's first saint. The saints—they teach us so many lessons. And the lesson I chose to focus on in the book around Mother Mary MacKillop was the idea of coachability. We talk about being a disciple of Jesus or being a good disciple of Jesus. And what is it that makes a good disciple? And one of the things that makes a good disciple is the willingness to be coached, to be coached to a better place, to be coached to become a better disciple, to sit at the feet of Jesus, sit with the Gospels, read about the life and teachings of Jesus, pray about life and teachings of Jesus, and allow Jesus to coach us to live at a higher level, to live in new ways, to put our lives to the best and highest use every single day. And the saints had this. The saints were coachable. 

 

If you think about what are the essential elements of coachability, it largely comes down to humility. How humble are we? Because it takes great humility to allow ourselves to be coached. If you look at any aspect of human life, the best of the best, the champions at anything—they love coaching. They love coaching because they love getting better at whatever it is that they do. And this is true in sports, it's true in business, it's true in every aspect of life. Champions love coaching. 

 

And so a question I want to lay before you today is how coachable are you. When was the last time you really opened yourself up and allowed Jesus to coach you in a particular situation? When was the last time that you opened yourself up and said, “All right, Jesus, I've got this situation. I really need your help. Lead me, guide me, coach me. I'm open, I'm available, I'm coachable. Show me what to do”? Because it's that coachability and excellence, they go hand in hand. Whether it's on the sporting field or in the spiritual life—that coachability and excellence—they just go hand in hand.

St. Anthony of the Desert

We hear a lot about culture in our daily conversation. The saint we're talking about today is Anthony of the Desert. He lived in a time where he basically decided the culture is bankrupt. And yes, the culture of his times had problems. I think culture of our times has 10 times more problems, 100 times more problems, than the culture of his times. Anthony of the Desert decided to go to the desert. He basically said: the culture is bankrupt; I'm leaving it behind; I'm going to go out and live in the desert; I'm going to live a life of prayer and reflection; and that's how I'm going to become a-better-version-of-myself, become all God created me to be, and try to live a good life.

 

At different points in history, we do need people to separate from the culture in order to reflect very deeply on the culture. But we're not all called to run away from the culture in such a complete and in an absolute way as Anthony did. 

 

Parents often asked me: what can I do to help my child live the faith or become a-better-version-of-themselves or take these ideas seriously in their life. I encourage parents to write down a two-sentence description of their child or how they envision they would like their child to be when their child is 21. And then another two-sentence description of how they would like their child to be when their child is 35. And another two-sentence description of how they like the child to be when their child is 50. And then when I read over those descriptions with the parent, what I point out to them is what they describe is a countercultural person. No parent says, “Just give me the average 21-year-old; that's my vision for my child. Give me the average 21-year-old on culture, and I'm good with that.” There isn't a parent on the planet that has that vision for their child.

 

Our vision for our children tends to be countercultural. And so then we have to ask ourselves: okay well, what in my life is countercultural? How will my child, how will my children, learn to be countercultural? We may be in the culture, but we don't have to be of the culture. And we are called to be in the culture so that we can share the truth, beauty, goodness about faith with other people. 

 

And the saints, every single one of them, were very, very aware. They had this awareness of the relationship between their spirituality and the culture. They had this awareness that the spirituality could build in them a strength so that they could go out and have a positive impact on society, on the culture. But if they got lazy in their spirituality, a reverse osmosis began to take place, and that is the culture began to have an impact on them and usually a very negative one. So our question today is: is culture helping you, or is the culture hurting you?

St. Nicholas

The saints have this ability to focus on the really important stuff. And the saint we talk about in the reading in Rediscover the Saints today is St. Nicholas. And of course, Santa Claus has his roots in St. Nicholas. I think one of the questions that all parents dread—and there are quite a few I'm working out—but one of the questions is is Santa real. And of course in its origin, absolutely, this mythic figure of Santa Claus has its roots in this Christian St. Nicholas. And who was he? He was a bishop. How did it become so famous? He became famous with radical generosity, and his radical generosity was only possible because of his radical awareness. 

 

I think it's easy to spend time with people and miss half or most of what they're saying to us. When we spend time with people—everyone has needs—and they reveal their needs to us even if they're trying to hide their needs from us. And Nicholas had this incredible ability to realize this family over here has got this problem and they need this; this guy over here has got this problem; and this guy over here—he's about to die and he doesn't have any money for his daughters to have a dowry, so the two of them are going to be sold into prostitution most likely. And so Nicholas gets together some money to create dowries for the two girls and drops it through the window of this family's home.

 

And the challenge is to go back to the original inspiration, and that is St. Nicholas. And what can we learn from the radical awareness and the radical generosity of St. Nicholas? Because it's just such a beautiful example of how a Christian saint can impact the world and influence the world. And yes, it's gone on to be commercialized, but still so much good has been done in the name of this one saint, Nicholas—so much good. And the thing about goodness is—the good we do—it never dies. It lives on in other people, in other places, in other times. The good we do, it never dies. It lives on forever. And so the constant challenge of the Gospel is to get out there and do good.

Mary

I remember, when I was in my late teens, really when I first began to take my faith seriously—and I think most of us have an experience where we decide to make ourselves completely available to God or we surrender—and I remember having one of those experiences and then coming home, and my brother asked to borrow my golf clubs. And it was sort of this really stark experience because I 'd been at Church, and I'd basically said to God: All right, God, I'm 100% available; I surrender everything to you; I'll do whatever you ask me to do. And then I come home, and my brother asked to borrow my golf clubs, and I loved my golf clubs. And I'm like: all right, God, everything but the golf clubs. My brother was a real hacker. I had no confidence that these golf clubs would come back in any usable form if my brother took them to play golf with. 

 

So I think in our spiritual life we do have this scenario where we give everything to God, or we surrender completely to God, and then we take it back little-by-little. And during Lent is a great time for us to reflect on where are we at with that. How much have we taken back from God? How much are we surrendered to God?

 

Today, we're talking about Mary and her beautiful surrender, her wholehearted surrender. Our culture is a culture of control. Our culture is a culture that tells us we need to be in control; we need to be in control of things; we need to take control of things. And when you think about control, I think it's a good lesson for us spiritually to think about how little do we actually control. What is it that you can actually control? And when you sit with that question, and even pen and paper, and start to write down what is it that you can control, it's a fairly short list, compared to all the possibilities that we encounter even in one day. And so we're faced with the reality that control is sort of a fool's errand and that, as usual, the wisdom of God prevails. And the wisdom of God, the invitation of God, is not to control, but to surrender. And so Mary's life and her witness is an invitation to surrender to God, to surrender wholeheartedly to God, to surrender completely to God.

 

Are you willing to surrender to God? Do you understand? Do you believe? Do you see the possibility that by surrendering to God, great things will happen?

Highs and Lows

Very often, our lives can go from great highs to great lows with astounding quickness or vice versa. And we begin to see this in the readings. And in this time in Jesus' life basically five minutes ago, he was triumphantly marching into Jerusalem being celebrated by the masses. And in tomorrow's reading, he's before Pilot having already experienced the ridicule of many, many people, and now he's having this experience with Pilot. And this exchange that takes place between Pilot and Jesus is frustrating to Pilot basically because it's taking too long. He's basically I'm a busy guy, and I got things to do, and this wasn't one of the things on my schedule today, so can we wrap this up? 

 

And for Pilot, Jesus is an inconvenience. So for the Pharisees, he's an inconvenience. For the Scribes, he's an inconvenience. Now for Pilot, he's an inconvenience. And there's a lot of people—if you just go through the Gospels and look at the Gospel through that lens—there's a lot of people that just find Jesus inconvenient. The truth is you and I do, too, sometimes. The truth is that there are moments in our days, there are times in our lives, when Jesus is present, his teaching is present, we are clear about the right path to walk, and we find Jesus's presence and His teaching and His path all very inconvenient because we have selfish desires, our own plans, that are not aligned with Jesus and His invitation. And so the inconvenience of Jesus, I think, is a phenomenal theme for us to explore in the Scriptures and for us to explore in our lives. And it takes, I think, some courage to face ourselves and ask ourselves: in what part of my life at the moment do I find Jesus inconvenient? In what part of my life at the moment do I find Jesus' teachings inconvenient? Because by going deeply into those questions and that reality, I think we will find a starting point for great growth, a massive growth in our spirituality and a new era in our own lives.

St. Ralph

The saint we're exploring together today is St. Ralph. He lived in the ninth century. And his lesson for us really was a love of learning. We named our fourth child Ralph. And one of the things when you're around kids you just realize, they're just naturally curious. And over time, I think that natural, beautiful curiosity can be bred out of us, or it can become deformed. We can become curious about the wrong things. And so St. Ralph had this love of learning and this curiosity about the things of God. 

 

Continuous learning has become very popular as a phrase and as an idea in modern secular culture and certainly in the business culture. But this concept has its roots in the lives of the saints. The saints were the original continuous learners. They were constantly learning new things. And they passed that onto us. The question is do we take that up from them and become continuous learners in the area of our faith. I think most people are continuous learners, in general. But there is a specific invitation to become a continuous learner in the area of our faith. 

 

I've pointed out in the past, you know, if you read five pages of a great book about your faith, every day for a decade or two decades, it's astounding how much content you will be exposed to and absorbed. But if I said to you, "Okay, let's read 500 books over the next 20 years," you'd probably just get overwhelmed by that and think, well, that's impossible and never going to happen. And as a result of that feeling of being overwhelmed, we tend never to start. If we approach it incrementally and say, "Okay, I'm going to read five pages a day," we very quickly see how we're exposed to all these great ideas, which feed our relationships, which feed our conversations, which feed our prayer life, which feed every aspect of us. 

 

And so this idea of continuous learning is essential to our spiritual growth in many ways. The core virtue behind it is a virtue that all the saints possess; it's a virtue that all the saints teach us but Ralph in a special way around this idea of continuous learning: and that's the virtue of patience. It takes patience to say I'm going to read five pages a day, every day, of a great spiritual book. And of course, that patience can't be contained in that experience. As we grow in patience, that goes out into every aspect of our lives, and we find ourselves being more patient with our children, being more patient with our spouse, being more patient with the strangers that cross into our lives. And so we realize that the saints teach us these lessons which might seem to only apply to this one part of our life. But the power of virtue cannot be contained. As we start to grow in a virtue, it will begin to manifest in every aspect of our lives and bear incredible fruit in every aspect of our lives.

St. James

The older I get, the more I love the concept of pilgrimage. At Dynamic Catholic, we host these great pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Fatima and Lourdes and, of course, the Camino, and others, and I'm always amazed at how powerful these sacred journeys are in my life and in the lives of the other pilgrims. When we set off on these journeys, we have to decide are we going to be a pilgrim or are we going to be a tourist?

 

And what is the difference? Well, a pilgrim is looking for God, is listening for God, is waiting on God. And it doesn't matter what happens, the pilgrim looks for the message in what is happening at that moment. So if the flight gets canceled, the tourists are jumping up and down, they want to be on the next flight, or they’re screaming at the airline people or whatever. But the pilgrim is thoughtfully considering: what's God saying to me? What is God saying to me? Maybe he's saying to me I got to be more patient. Maybe He's saying to me I got to learn that I'm not in control and I have to just surrender to the journey. When we come back from pilgrimage, the challenge is to live like that in our daily lives, to ask ourselves: okay, am I a pilgrim, or am I a tourist in this world, in my daily life? 

 

The saint that I talked about today in Rediscover the Saints today is St. James. And as one of the disciples, Jesus asked them to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and James went to the west coast of Spain, in what is today Spain and Portugal. And at the time that was, in that direction, the end of the known world. And he spent his life talking to the people in that region about Jesus and obviously became a great saint.

 

The thing that Saint James reminds us of, the thing that pilgrimage reminds us of, is that we're just passing through this place we call the world, this thing we call life. We're just passing through here, and it is astoundingly temporary, and we do a lot of things to pretend that it isn't. We do a lot of things to pretend that this is more permanent than it actually is, and then God comes into our lives and reminds us: hey, don't forget you're just passing through here. 

 

And so James encourages us today to have the attitude of the pilgrim. He encourages us to examine ourselves and say: are we living as tourists, or we living as pilgrims? Are we living as children of the consumer culture, or are we living as children of God?

All Saints

Now, it's your turn. Essentially, the last chapter of the book Rediscover the Saints talks about all the saints that we'll never know the names of, all the saints that will never have a feast day other than All Saints' Day, all the saints that will never have books written about them. It's really, really important that we remember that most saints are not canonized. The canonized saints are just a selection, a sampling, to show us that is possible, and very often we don't believe it's possible. 

 

We've talked often about the idea of holy moments, and we look at the idea of holiness, and it can be overwhelming, and it isn't meant to be that. We think about the idea: Can you go out today and create one holy moment? Yes, you can. And how do you do that? By collaborating with God and opening yourself up to God and saying, "All right, God, what do you want me to do in this moment?" And by surrendering that moment to God and transforming that moment into a holy moment we realize that holiness is possible for you, and that's what the saints did. They lived these holy moments. They transformed the ordinary moments of their life into holy moments, and that's what you and I are called to do: is to create more holy moments today than yesterday. Be collaborators with God—to collaborate with God. 

 

If you look at the history of God's relationship with humanity, God loves collaborating with humanity. I mean, look at the collaboration between God and Mary to bring Jesus into the world. And he wants to collaborate with you today to create some holy moments. And he wants to collaborate with you tomorrow to create even more holy moments than today. And so the question is how do we do that. What's the first step towards that? 

 

One of the things I've written, and I say over and over again is that people don't do anything until they're inspired, but once they're inspired, it's almost nothing they can't do, nothing they won't do.

And so the question I put before you today is where do you get your inspiration from. Okay, how can you tap into that inspiration every day? Whatever it is, we know that human beings have a need for inspiration, and we can't go too long without it. And so one of the things we have to ask ourselves is, how can we facilitate the flow of inspiration in our lives? How can we open ourselves to the flow of inspiration that God wants to send into our lives? Because it's through that inspiration and through the encouragement that comes through that inspiration that we go out of the world and collaborate with God to do great things.

 
 
 
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About the Author

Matthew Kelly was born in Sydney, Australia. He has dedicated his life to helping people and organizations become the-best-version-of-themselves. Kelly is a New York Times bestselling author, an internationally acclaimed speaker, and a business consultant to some of the world’s largest and most admired companies. He is the author of more than thirty books, which have sold more than fifty million copies and have been published in more than thirty languages.

 

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