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Matthew Kelly’s “Resisting Happiness” Review & Book Giveaway

Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly Book Giveaway via @ACatholicNewbie

Matthew Kelly was key in my conversion to Catholicism. I was already on my way, as I was in RCIA and had decided to at least go through the process to learn more, but he tipped me over the edge into full confidence in my conversion with his book “Rediscover Catholicism.”

So any new book he writes is always tops on my list to read. The title of this one caught my attention — “Resisting Happiness” — as I feel like I know a lot of people who are definitely resisting happiness. While I felt the book got a bit off track of what it promised on the cover — “a true story about why we sabotage ourselves, feel overwhelmed, set aside our dreams, and lack the courage to simply be ourselves … and how to start choosing happiness again” — it still delivered inspiring content about how to change our lives to follow God and find peace.

Finding God’s Purpose for You

For me this book was largely about finding God’s purpose for you in life as a way to find joy and peace. Kelly gives specific examples of his journey and how he came to start Dynamic Catholic after years of speaking on the road in his 20’s.

He gives fantastic examples of those who have figured out their mission and how they did so. I loved the story of an older woman who wanted to help Dynamic Catholic and spread the word of God, but who was not physically able. Instead, she bought as many copies of “Rediscover Catholicism” as she could and sent them to everyone she knew, even mailing them to important figures around the world — all with a personal letter. What a great mission!

Or the story of a successful business man who longed to be an evangelist like Kelly but never could seem to find the time to get started. Eventually after years of prayer, he discerned God had given him the gift of making money through his businesses, not of speaking, and so he decided he was to make as much money as he could and give it to Dynamic Catholic for their good work. I love it!

Key Points on Finding Your Purpose

Some other key points Kelly makes in the book to help those struggling with their life’s purpose:

  • If you don’t have a talent that others do, you don’t need it for the mission for which God has sent you. Let go what gifts you were not given.
  • The key to happiness: Find a way to lay down your life for others in a way that engages your talents and abilities.
  • Place your talents and enthusiasm at the service of life.
  • Look at your talents and your availability. What are you passionate about? What are you really good at? You are likely to find your purpose at the intersection of those two questions.
  • Don’t focus on what you were called to in the past but what you are being called to RIGHT NOW! Your calling changes over time.

Other Gems

I have gotten in the habit of making notes in the back of the books I am reading with bullet points of actions I want to take or key points I want to remember so I can go back and review later. Here are some other notes I jotted down from “Resisting Happiness”:

  • The most important things are almost never urgent; that’s why you must schedule them.
  • Pray at the beginning of each hour of your work, offering that hour’s work for a special intention.
  • If you want to be an interesting person, read books and develop a love of learning.
  • Learn how to say no. If it’s not a definite yes; it’s a definite no.
  • Take a pilgrim’s attitude instead of that of a tourist; accept that things will go wrong on the journey and that is simply a part of your walk.
  • Persistence is the antidote to resistance; take some action, even the smallest of actions, to begin the process to overcoming anything.
  • Be gentle with yourself.

If you enjoy Matthew Kelly’s writing, you’ll enjoy “Resisting Happiness.” As always, it is full of practical ways to bring yourself closer to God and written in conversational language accessible to anyone. What I loved about “Rediscover Catholicism” was how he was able to take the ancient practices of the Church and make them relatable to me today in the 21st Century. He helped me to understand WHY the Church teaches what it teaches and how those teachings helped me grow into the saint God designed me to be :). And in that same relatable way, he offers more words of wisdom in this latest book.

Book Giveaway

I’ve got 10 copies of “Resisting Happiness” to give away thanks to the folks at Dynamic Catholic, which I support through their Ambassadors Program! To enter to win, I ask you to do TWO THINGS:

  1. Sign up for my email below, which simply means you will get my blog posts via email (currently, no more than 2 per week) by Nov. 18, 2016.
  2. “Like” Catholic Newbie on Facebook below
Subscribe to Catholic Newbie by entering your email:

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I will draw 10 random winners on Nov. 19, 2016 from those who sign up for my blog email by Nov. 18, 2017. I will then double check that you have “liked” the Facebook page before I declare you a winner. Only one winner per email address. Copies will be shipped to you directly from Dynamic Catholic. Winners announced on the Catholic Newbie blog on Nov. 19, 2016.

Parishes, or others, who buy “Resisting Happiness” in bulk can currently purchase them for just $1 per copy. A great gift to give your parish — and anyone you know — this Christmas!

Read More:

Which Saints Are Your Friends?

Which Saints Are Your Friends by @ACatholicNewbie

Do you have saints that you consider to be your friends? In reading the new book from Teresa Tomeo, “Girlfriends and Other Saints: Companions on my Journey of Faith,” where she shares her experiences of how the communion of saints is really communion of our friends, it got me thinking about which saints I consider to be friends.

St. Therese

Girlfriends and Other Saints - by Teresa-TomeoTops on my list is St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. She is my confirmation saint and just as Teresa Tomeo shares amazing experiences she’s had with saints like St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese has made herself present to me in many ways. She has sent me “roses,” answered my most pressing novena prayers and just seems to pop up in the most surprising places.

When I stand at mass, I like to imagine St. Therese standing behind my right shoulder and my Guardian Angel standing behind my left with Mary behind and in between them both with loving arms outstretched guiding my way. I recently read a fascinating book by Father Michael Gaitley called “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told,” which discusses the role of Divine Mercy in our generation and how it has been revealed through a number of saints, including St. Therese, St. Faustina and St. John Paul II. I recommend this as a MUST READ, as it really helps tie the message of Divine Mercy all together.

I truly feel like St. Therese and I are friends, as she has seen me through my conversion to Catholicism and I call on her in many situations. I just feel her calming, sweet presence and turn to her so often.

St. Faustina

In the last year or so, I’ve felt a call toward St. Faustina and her message. I don’t quite feel like we are “friends” yet, but we are getting to know each other :). I have not read her Diary in full, though have read through many Divine Mercy Daily emails, which cover portions of her diary. I have read about her and I want to learn more about this humble Polish nun and the incredible messages she received from Jesus and Mary.

St. Benedict

Early on in my conversion, before actually joining the Church, I felt drawn to St. Benedict and his Rule for monks. While his rule of living was meant for the monastery, it really can be lived in our secular world, as well. I love his call to daily conversion — we must keep turning to God every single day — and how he places holiness on the most ordinary of things and activities from cooking utensils to manual labor. They are all gifts from God and we must treat them as such. I have a statue of him on my desk to remind me of the holiness of my day-to-day activities.

St. John Paul II

This year, I’ve felt a call to St. John Paul II. I realized I had a connection to him after a visit to a church on Gozo in Malta that he had visited years before. I feel like it may have played a role in my conversion. I was also drawn to read the new book “City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II’s Krakow” by George Weigel about the many places he lived. It’s a wonderfully written read that combines travel, history, religion and biography. Poland is definitely on my list of places to visit!

Which saints do you consider to be friends? Please post in the comments below!

EVERY Catholic Needs to Read This Book

@ACatholicNewbie: EVERY Catholic Needs to Read This Book from @AveMariaPress

The more I learn about my faith, the more I realize how key it is to understand the Bible and how very little I actually did understand it. Until I became a Catholic, I did not realize the parallels between the Old and the New Testament (something smart people call “typology” :-)) and how the New is the fulfillment of the Old and how the New is largely prefigured in the old.

For example, one of my biggest stumbling blocks of the Bible is the story Abraham willing to sacrifice Isaac. I just could not understand how a loving God would ask someone to do that. But this story really only makes sense in light of Jesus. Isaac is the pre-figurement of Jesus. God will sacrifice his only son on wood (the cross) just as Isaac was to be sacrificed on wood. You pretty much have to put on “Jesus” glasses, if you will :), in order to fully view the Old Testament.

The Bible has simply opened up for me in ways I could never have imagined, including validating the teachings of the Catholic Church today, since coming to this realization. One of the most amazing books on the faith I have found to date (second only to Matthew Kelly’s “Rediscover Catholicism”) is John Bergsma’s New Testament Basics for Catholics (Ave Maria Press, 2016). I wish this book had a more compelling title because it is SO much more than that. It is an explanation of the New Testament (in light of the Old) that is absolutely jaw-dropping — a must read for anyone who really wants to understand their faith in light of the Bible.

I have found that flat out the New Testament can be entirely misunderstood when not properly read with an understanding of the Old Testament and of the Jewish customs, words and ways of life in those times. You cannot accurately or fully comprehend what Jesus is trying to teach us without this reference point. So much gets lost — and misinterpreted! With this knowledge, not only does the Bible make sense, it’s life-altering.

Bergsma systematically goes through the Gospel of Matthew, Luke and John, Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans and the Book of Revelation, but he does so in conversational language that anyone can follow.

If you’ve been Catholic for a while, you’ve heard the typology of certain things like the Abraham/Isaac story above, but Bergsma provides you with so many more, many I never realized that totally blew me away. Some examples:

  • The parallel of David dancing in front of the Ark of the Covenant and John the Baptist “dancing” in his mother’s womb in front of Mary, the new Ark of the Covenant
  • How the items, according to Hebrews, that were contained in the Ark of the Covenant (manna, Aaron’s rod and the Ten Commandments) all look forward to Jesus: the Eucharist, priest, law-giver
  • The manna in the dessert, put on display for the people to see; how we adore (sit in the presence of) Jesus, body and blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist
  • The sacrament of Confirmation, which originates in Acts of the Apostles when Peter and John must come down and lay hands on the people to fully receive the Holy Spirit, even after they were baptized.
  • How the Wedding Feast at Cana identifies Jesus and Mary as the New Adam and the New Eve
  • I could go on and on and on… 🙂

Throughout the book, Bergsma, who is a convert from Protestantism, goes through his former beliefs as a Protestant Minister and explains why he was wrong. It’s incredibly helpful for someone coming to the church from a Protestant background.

As far as I’m concerned, this book should be purchased and handed out to every Catholic at every church in the world and be required reading for all RCIA candidates. I’m convinced this would end much confusion over so many elements of the faith and bring people to a much greater understand of the Bible and their mission to become saints on earth.

Bergsma also has a book that goes more in-depth into the Old Testament, giving you the big picture of salvation history, in Bible Basics for Catholics. It’s also fun because he uses stick figure drawings to take you through the Old Testament and each covenant.

Do You Only Read Contemporary Catholic Books?

Catholic BooksAlready an avid reader, since converting to Catholicism I have delved into all sorts of Catholic books — mostly new, but a few classics.

I am currently participating in “Epic: The Early Church” video study through my parish and so picked up some of the early church writings of saints, including bishops and popes, who lived during this period. On my desk right now is St. Athanasius’ “On the Incarnation.” St. Athanasius was the bishop of Alexandria in the early 300s who defended against Arianism, a belief which denied the divinity of Christ.

The introduction to the version of the work I am reading was written by the great Christian theologian and author C.S. Lewis. In it, interestingly, he recommends reading one classic/old book for every new book you read, or at least one old one to every three new ones.

He explains that older books give us a history and context within which new books have descended. Also, every age has it’s own outlook, he says, so it’s important not to solely immerse yourself in that outlook, but present yourself with other perspectives, especially by those deemed great theologians and even doctors of the church.

How many old books do you read compared to contemporary books?

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