Blog Archives

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:

“Like” Catholic Newbie on Facebook:

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:

A Wonderful Prayer in This Distressing Election Season

I know I have been very distressed at certain points during this political season, but with much prayer, I have made peace with it, deciding to act for myself and let God’s will be done.

PrayMoreNovenas has a most wonderful prayer that reminds us that no government can replace our God and that in fact prayer and belief in Jesus Christ is what will save us, not the next president of the United States. So join this wonderful apostolate with whom tens of thousands pray novenas together and let us pray for God’s will to be done. That’s something we can all agree on :).

You can sign up to receive the daily email with the novena prayer here.

Here is the lovely prayer:

Heavenly Father,

Nothing can overcome your greatness. But we are weak and need a deeper gift of hope as we face worldly governments.

Help us remember that political power can never replace the mission of the Church to preach the Gospel to all nations.

Lord, we give you permission to form our consciences according to the Gospel so that we may both vote and act for the Kingdom of God.

As we wrestle with the complexity of political life, never let us forget the poor, the weak, the unborn, the refugee, the migrant, all those affected by war, those struggling financially and all those suffering from the failings of the political systems of this world.

Give us the courage to always be detached from our political loyalties and be first a faithful follower of Jesus, the true King.  And when it comes time for us to contribute to the political realm help us to cast our vote in a way that is pleasing to You.

For these elections in our nations, O God, please bless us with the best rulers possible, in this fallen world, at all levels of government.

Finally, just as You brought our salvation from the horrible death of Your Son, we pray that from the political campaigns of this world, You will bring about great good for Your people.

Amen.

Spring Training with the Holy Spirit: How to Become Holy Spirit-Led

Spring Training with the Holy Spirit by @ACatholicNewbie

Just as baseball players head to spring training to practice and prepare for their upcoming season, I’ve found myself in spring training for something a little different: being led by the Holy Spirit.

We were blessed to have Deacon Ralph Poyo lead my parish’s mission this year, and while he provided lots of great insight on many things, the message that spoke directly to me was that we need to be a people and a parish that is led by the Holy Spirit. If we don’t ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us in all things, we will not become the vibrant, welcoming parish we desire and the saints we are meant to be.

For example, after the second evening of the mission when Deacon Ralph talked about spiritual warfare, I commented to him that I had dreamt about demons afterward. I asked him, “Is this something I should be worried about?” He said, “I’m not who you should be asking. Who should you be asking instead?” So I immediately replied that oh I should probably talk with our pastor. He said, nope! Then I realized I should be talking to God and he clarified that I should ask the Holy Spirit specifically. Light bulb moment!

Living guided by the Holy Spirit is not easy, as it’s not how we usually live our life. Rather, we tend to think what do I want and how can I get it? Or what do my kids want and how can I get it for them? But we have to relinquish that “me, me, me” way of life and change it to “He, He, He.” 🙂 That requires some serious spring training for all of us to get into spiritual shape!

What does it mean to live guided by the Holy Spirit? It means asking His guidance in all things. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember to throw the empty shampoo bottle in the shower into the recycling bin! So remember to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance before all things? That’s going to take some practice with undoubtedly a few curve balls along the way.

If we want to live “Holy Spirit-led,” then we have to turn it into a habit; we’ve got to get to the point that it’s just a part of our “swing.” That means at least three weeks of doing this on a regular basis until it becomes ingrained in our day-to-day activity. That takes practice!

And not only do we have to remember to ASK, we have to remember to take time to LISTEN for His answers and then ACT on them.

Spring Training Exercises to be Holy Spirit-Led:

First, we have to have given the reigns of our live over to God, allowing him permission to guide us. THEN here are some other ideas and suggestions…

  • Go to daily mass as often as you can and present your questions during mass
  • Spend some time in the Blessed Sacrament at the beginning or end of your day lifting up your thoughts to the Holy Spirit
  • In the book “Walking with Purpose: Seven Priorities That Make Life Work” by Lisa Brenninkmeyer (Beacon Publishing, 2013), which is free on DynamicCatholic.com, she suggests taking some morning prayer time to do the following:
    • Using a journal, write a note to God/Holy Spirit about any worries, concerns or direction that you need.
    • Write down a list of what you need to pray for daily. She includes:
      • Help she needs in her relationship with God
      • Help in her marriage (or vocation)
      • Prayers for her children
      • Prayers for her home
      • Prayers for outside relationships (or anyone you feel called to pray for that day)
      • Prayer that God will be the priority in all things
      • You could also add prayer for work related items
    • Read the Bible – You can read the daily readings or follow a Bible Reading Plan like the one from the Coming Home Network. Look for answers from the Holy Spirit.
  • Before major discussions, emails, phone calls, stop and say a prayer for those involved and that God’s will be done.
  • Pray the Angelus at noon – Set a timer on your phone and stop and pray this short prayer in solidarity with others around the world.
  • Pray one of the Liturgy of the Hours – Download Laudate on your smart phone and stop and pray at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. or 9 p.m.
  • Pray your calendar each day. Stop and review your calendar, praying for each person you will meet or talk with that day.
  • Daily Reflection/Examination of Conscience – Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic offers a great Prayer Process you can complete upon the close of the day, examining what you did and did not do to be the best version of yourself, pray for others, thank God for what you are grateful for that day, etc.
  • Go to Reconciliation monthly, so you can properly “hear” the Holy Spirit rather than have Him be clouded out by sin, even little ones.
  • Receive the Eucharist as often as you can to continue to cleanse yourself of sin and receive grace from God.
  • Engage in spiritual reading and look for answers from the Holy Spirit.

These exercises help us make time to ask and listen to the Holy Spirit, but then it’s time to ACT, which can be the toughest part. You’re going to be out on the field, in front of everyone, putting into action all that you’ve learned in training and following the coach’s (Holy Spirit) orders even if you don’t like them.

The Holy Spirit puts me outside of my comfort zone all the time in what He asks of me. I have slowly adopted the attitude that it does not matter what others think, only what God thinks of what I am doing. So, as an introvert, if I feel afraid to introduce myself to someone, that they might think I’m being too forward or strange, it doesn’t matter, or as embarrassment and anxiety creep in, I try to just let those feelings go. I have to rest knowing that I was trying to do what God asked and know that He will be pleased no matter what anyone else may think. That is truly all that matters.

Are you ready to be Holy Spirit-led? It’s critical if we want to become the saints God desires us to be. Let us let Him lead us to the Promised Land but first let the spring training begin!

Making the Most of Lent as a New or Returning Catholic

Making the Most of Lent as a New or Returning Catholic via @ACatholicNewbie

Joining the Church this Easter or just going through your first Lent as a Catholic? Or maybe you’re getting serious about your faith again after many years away. Congratulations on all counts! Lent is the perfect time to dive in and really get to know your faith and to begin to root out any unholiness that has crept into your life.

As a now 3-year Catholic veteran of Lent, here are my tips to maximize this penitential season as a newcomer:

  1. What to give up? Probably the first thing you associate with Lent is giving something up. We do this for many reasons including reminding ourselves that we are more than just a body and need not be slaves to its every earthly whim. It helps develop self-control, and also, dare we say, creates some discomfort, and we can offer that up in union with Christ’s suffering to have redemptive benefits (to help others in some way). MY favorite reason to give up something is to begin to change bad habits that lead to sin — or are sinful. Look for something in your life you’ve gotten too attached to, that creates a habitual pleasure, pride or reveals an attachment to money. Start rooting that out by giving it up for Lent. Here’s a quiz that can also help you decide what to give up.
  2. Remember to add something – Lest we get all focused on the bad, let’s remember to add something holy to our lives this Lent. Can you spend 15 minutes in quiet daily, pray the rosary every day, attend daily mass once a week, go to confession more than once, finish a Catholic book, do an act of mercy weekly, read the Church’s daily Bible verses?
  3. Surviving the fast – Yes, as a Catholic, you are now required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (that means one regular meal and two small meals that add up to no more than one regular meal) and abstain from meat each Friday during Lent. This is a tough one, as we don’t like to be hungry (see my blog on the benefits of fasting)! The Lenten Mercy Challenge, created by MyConsecration.org (which promotes Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary) is offering help by asking you to simply fast on bread and water for lunch each Lenten Friday, along with praying just one decade of the rosary for a special intention. They hope all of us doing this in solidarity will help cause God’s Divine Mercy to be poured out on the world, which is so in need of it! Get help being accountable for your prayer and fasting in their Facebook group. You can also watch my story of how prayer paired with fasting brought about a blessing in my life.
  4. Take advantage of your parish offerings – Lent has brought about many blessings in my life and it was because I put myself out there and attended services and events offered at my parish. For example, a wonderful Lenten speaker, Hector Molina, greatly inspired me last year and helped me break the ice in getting to know my fellow parishioners. I love going to Stations of the Cross on Fridays, our parish’s fish fries, all the services during Holy Week and I take off Good Friday entirely to basically spend my day in worship and prayer. It will do wonders for you spiritually.
  5. Don’t overdo it – All that said, don’t overdo it or you will fail on your intentions and get discouraged. Focus on 1 thing to root out, 1 thing to add, make sure you’re fasting/abstaining, get thyself to confession at least once and attend what you can at your parish. Ok, that still sounds like a lot… 🙂 If you do mess up, don’t let that stop you from going further. Just get right back in the game. We all fail and sin and that’s why God provides us with His neverending mercy. He’s cheering you on to succeed!

What tips do you have for those new or coming back to Catholicism for Lent?

Email Sign-up

Like us on Facebook!


As Featured on Seize the Day With Gus Lloyd

On Sirius Catholic radio

Archives

St. Therese, the Little Flower, Pray for us!