The only Church that can claim being founded by Jesus Christ Himself is the Catholic Church. The papal throne is the very seat that Peter has turned over to a good number of popes, unfortunately some more sinful than the others. In the years that followed, the Church has influenced mankind in more ways than one. It has established schools and hospitals, making Christ's work of healing and teaching more tangible, yet not necessarily obvious. For years, the Bible was painstakingly written by monks and handed down to the faithful, carefully interpreted in the spirit of Christian tradition. The Last Supper is celebrated in a universal fashion, in various languages so that a Catholic can still celebrate the Mass and follow it no matter the location. The same mystical sacrifice happens in all parts of the world and the same belief is upheld that the ordinary bread is transformed into Jesus Himself and dwells among us and within us. This is the genius of Catholicism. A genius that has been neglected and taken for granted by the very faithful themselves.
In this book, "Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose", Matthew Kelly does not only delve in Catholicism per se but the real spirit behind it. He describes the real essence of Catholicism which goes deeper than mere religion. It is a spirituality, a way of life. This book is like no other. It is personal. It is practical. It is real. It speaks to modern men and women. The message resonates in every page. Be the best-version-of-yourself. This is the call of God to everyone. This is God's purpose for everyone. Be the best-version-of-yourself. "To embrace who you were created to be and to become the-best-version-of-yourself is God's dream for you (p.75)." God has a dream for you! It is written deep in your heart, so deep that few people are able to read it, or care to read it.
According to Kelly, God has gifted the Catholics with these seven pillars to become this best-version-of-themselves:
1) Confession. This is a tool to "bridge the gap between the-person-that-I-am and the-person-God-calls-me-to-be (p.150)";
2) Daily Prayer. "In the silence you will find God and in the silence you will find yourself. Ten minutes a day. Sit with the Divine Architect and together design something wonderful. Visit with the Divine Navigator and plot a course to unchartered territories. Sit with God and dreams some dreams. (p. 178, 185-186)". Just ten minutes a day!
3) The Mass. How can you derive maximum benefit from the Mass? Kelly advises the use of a Mass Journal. "Place this request before God: Show me one way in this Mass that I can become a-better-version-of-myself this week! Then listen to the music, the readings, the prayers of the Mass, the homily, the quiet of your heart. When that thing strikes you, write it in your Mass Journal (p. 204)." Even when nothing strikes you, just dwell in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and in you during communion and you would derive all the benefits and riches that the Mass has to offer. It is Jesus Himself entering your body, becoming part of you, making it possible for you to become a better person each day. You become what you eat.
4) The Bible. It is our Catholic heritage yet non-Catholic Christians know more about the Bible than we do. It is such a shame. Kelly advises that you start with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. "Don't just read them once. Read them over and over, fifteen or twenty minutes a day, for a whole year. Allow the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to sink their roots deep into your heart, mind, soul and life (p. 232-233)" Then you can move beyond the Gospels.
5) Fasting. "The forty days of Lent are an ideal period for renewal. Lent is the perfect span of time to form new life-giving habits and abandon old self-destructive habits. But most of us just give up chocolate and when Easter arrives we are not much further advanced spiritually than we were at the beginning of Lent (p. 253). It is also important to recognize that not all forms of fasting involve food. You can fast from judging others, criticizing, cursing, or complaining, to name but a few (p. 255)."
6) Spiritual Reading. "It is amazing how powerfully fifteen minutes with the right book can stir your soul. You don't need two hours of reading every day, just fifteen minutes. But do it everyday. Make it a part of your lifestyle. Read for fifteen minutes everyday and it will become a habit -- and our lives change when our habits change. (p. 262)."
7) The Rosary. "In the rosary, we have twenty mysteries that beget twenty lessons in life, love, the attainment of virtue, and the genius of God's plan for humanity (p.271). The words of the rosary are powerful and filled with meaning, but so are the mysteries that we use as a backdrop to each decade (p. 275)." Meditate on each mystery or use it as a mantra to silence the noise in your soul.
This book is a breath of fresh air -- something we are in dire need of. For a free copy of this book, go to www.DynamicCatholic.com. Matthew Kelly provides his list of spiritual readings and free copies of other books in this site. He has established the Matthew Kelly Foundation to help people discover their mission in life. May this book help you discover yours.