Featured Post

Extollo Deus

Extollo Deus presents a lay, practical point of view of Christian topics to stimulate contemplation, discussion, and growth in spirituality...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I was blind, but now I see!    [adapted by TheHumbleDisciple]
The Streets of New York
Moments of moral clarity can also come upon an entire community. Dr. Selzer tells of an experience that jolted a neighborhood out of moral slumber. In Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery, he writes:
On the morning of August 6, 1975, the people of 73rd Street near Woodside Avenue…rise from their beds, dress, eat breakfast, and leave their houses for work, they have forgotten, if they had ever known, that the garbage truck had passed earlier that morning . . .  They close their doors and descend to the pavement. It is midsummer . . . You walk toward the bus stop. Others, your neighbors, are waiting there. It is all so familiar.
All at once you step on something soft. You feel it with your foot. Even through your shoe you have the sense of something unusual, something marked by a special “give.” It is a foreignness upon the pavement. Instinct pulls your foot away in an awkward little movement. You look down, and you see . . . a tiny naked body, its arms and legs flung apart, its head thrown back, its mouth agape, its face serious. A bird, you think, fallen from its nest. But there is no nest here on 73rd Street, no bird so big . . . And you bend to see. Because you must . . . It is a baby, and dead. You cover your mouth, your eyes. You are fixed. Horror has found its chink and crawled in, and you will never be the same as you were!
Now you look about; another man has seen it too. “My God,” he whispers . . . There is a cry. “Here’s another!” and “Another!” and “Another.” . . . Yes, it is true! There are more of these . . . little carcasses upon the street . . . The people on 73rd street do not speak to each other. It is too soon for outrage, too late for blindness. It is the time of unresisted horror!
Later, at the police station, the investigation is brisk, conclusive. It is the hospital director speaking. “Fetuses accidentally got mixed up with the hospital rubbish . . . [and] were picked up at approximately 8:15 am by a sanitation truck. Somehow, the plastic lab bag, labeled hazardous material, fell off the back of the truck and broke open. No, it is not known how the fetuses got in the orange plastic bag labeled hazardous material. It is a freak accident.”
The hospital director wants you to know that it is not an everyday occurrence. Once in a lifetime, he says. But you have seen it, and what are his words to you now? He grows affable, familiar, tells you that, by mistake, the fetuses got mixed up with the other debris. (Yes, he says other, he says debris.) He has spent the entire day, he says, trying to figure out how it happened. He wants you to know that. Somehow it matters to him.
He goes on: aborted fetuses that weigh one pound or less are incinerated. Those weighing over one pound are buried at the city cemetery. He says this. Now you see. It is orderly. It is sensible. The world is not mad. This is still a civilized society . . . But just this once, you know it isn’t. You saw, and you know!
I was blind, but now I see!
A Moral Touchstone
          Over the years we have heard politicians from both parties voice their moral convictions on global warming, abortion, energy independence, health care, marriage, and the war on terror. For citizens confused over which policies should have primacy, it is important to realize that while they all have a moral dimension, they have different moral values.
The bedrock of our rule of law is equality and the endowed rights of every individual—the most basic of which, is the right to life. Consequently, policies that most directly and widely uphold the “sanctity of life” take precedence over all others!
That does not mean that affordable housing, environmental protection, and the national debt are not important; they are—extremely so. Each impacts the quality of our lives in one way or another.
It means that protecting the unborn, aged, infirmed, and other vulnerables from being reduced to “non-persons” is morally superior to easing the emotional and financial burden of their caretakers.
It means that saving one million children a year from the holocaust of abortion has a higher moral value than the reproductive “rights” of women.
It means that protecting children from sexual exploitation is more important than protecting the free expression of pornographers.
It means that providing clean water, affordable energy, and medical technology to the developing world is more important than reducing our carbon footprint.
It means that fighting slavery, sex-trafficking, AIDS, genocide and hunger has a higher moral value than fighting global warming.
It means that eliminating our energy and economic dependence on countries sponsoring terrorism, or guilty of human-rights violations, has priority over eliminating off-shore drilling.
It means that liberating the poor from the grip of the welfare state is morally superior to policies that create a permanent underclass.
It means that protecting traditional marriage—proven the best institution for the care and well-being of children—takes precedence over the desires of adults to express their sexual freedom.
In summary, it means that the moral value of any social policy should be judged by how profoundly it guards and defends the endowed rights for all people, especially the right to life!

I was blind, but now I see!

Excerpt - OCTOBER 26, 2017
“Moments of Moral Clarity” – Crisis Magazine

Monday, October 16, 2017

Who Am I to Judge?” 

Kathy and Dick Holland facilitate this timely course concerning the Catholic Moral World View. For eight sessions, Tuesday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. in the St. Matthew’s Family Life Center Library, beginning Oct. 17th, strengthen your defenses from a world where individual belief determines morality not the reality of objective morality, natural law, nor LOVE!

“What is Relativism?” “What’s the harm in not believing in or avoiding the consequences of sin?” Wait! Does sin exist at all or is it just judgementalism?”

Plunge into soul-important discussion about the place of morality, virtues, and sin in our “If you think it is ok, I am ok with it, too!” society. Lead by the penetrating, thought provoking video study series featuring Dr. Edward Siri of Augustine Institute, develop a Catholic-eye for the realities of our actions and responsibilities while personalizing each one’s need for friendship, companionship, and Love!


For more information or to enroll, call Dick Holland – 682-3319 – dholland@stmatthewswy.org or just drop-in Tuesday Oct. 17th!

Monday, October 2, 2017

PLEASE!!

I Need Your Help and Prayers!”  Or  “Where are the INQUIRY and RCIA Needers!

The new RCIA has successfully just begun, but I know souls in need of God and the church are still just outside the shadow of our reach. I feel them waiting for a personal call and invitation to bring them to the bridge of trust so they may inquire and feel personally our reached hands to draw them to a personal walk with Jesus and as a loving community bring them to the Christian fellowship of the Church! Please help a soul reach fulfillment in Christ with a personal invitation to inquire and to see!

Our parish is so blessed by the addition of new personalities to our community life through RCIA, never mind that Jesus told us to get out there and bring everyone to the fullness of His LOVE in the faith and the church! Yet, even with the excitement and LOVE being broadcast from the spectacular faithful of St. Matthew’s, I, as the Formation Director of St. Matthew’s, am sitting in a cold, dark, quiet office waiting for the phone to ring or the door to burst open with enthusiastic searchers for the faith! I scream silently into the darkness, “O Where are the seekers after our faith and community!?”

Jesus is gently calling, “Come to Me; I LOVE YOU more than life itself as I proved with Cross! Come be with me in the faith, worship, Eucharist, and LOVE of my Church and community! Come to the Joy of my Peace!”

Like the Shepard I am called to be, I am running over hill and dale looking for the “lost sheep”, but I am so unsuccessful that even the coyotes of Hell have quit following me for the stragglers and all I have to show for my frenetic search is cactus in my toes and whiplash from the sagebrush to my face!

Father says to me, “While you are sitting there in the dark moping and groping for anyone for formation. Call someone and tell them your story so they might be inspired to try Inquiry or RCIA!” It might be a good idea to spin the tale of how the Holy Spirit enticed, prodded, and literally pushed a master sinner like me to Jesus . . .  BUT . . .  “WHO DO YOU CALL WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHO NEEDS TO BE CALLED?!”

So . . . I need your HELP and Prayers to find those who need to be called to Jesus and/or the Church! I am on my knees not just for prayer to find those who need us, but also to beg for names or leads to promising people who will benefit from inclusion in our faith, community, and life! You don’t have to be overt; you can be covert! Even anonymous messages or hints will unleash me for a whirlwind of Love or a quiet chat!


PLEASE HELP ME BEFORE I GO MAD AND BECOME A MONK OF THE DARK! Call Dick Holland at 682-3319 ext112  or for technos – dholland@stmatthewswy.org

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I Need Your Help and Prayers!  Or  Where are the INQUIRY and RCIA Needers!

Our parish is so blessed by the addition of new personalities to our community life through RCIA, never mind that Jesus told us to get out there and bring everyone to the fullness of His LOVE in the faith and the church! Yet, even with the excitement and LOVE being broadcast from the spectacular faithful of St. Matthew’s, I, as the Formation Director of St. Matthew’s, am sitting in a cold, dark, quiet office waiting for the phone to ring or the door to burst open with enthusiastic searchers for the faith! I scream silently into the darkness, “O Where are the seekers after our faith and community!?”

Jesus is gently calling, “Come to Me; I LOVE YOU more than life itself as I proved with Cross! Come be with me in the faith, worship, Eucharist, and LOVE of my Church and community! Come to the Joy of my Peace!”
Like the Shepard I am called to be, I am running over hill and dale looking for the “lost sheep”, but I am so unsuccessful that even the coyotes of Hell have quit following me and all I have to show for my frenetic search is cactus in my toes and whiplash from the sagebrush to my face!

Father says to me, “While you are sitting there in the dark moping and groping for anyone for formation. Call someone and tell them your story so they might be inspired to try Inquiry or RCIA!” It might be a good idea to wind the tale of how the Holy Spirit enticed, prodded, and literally pushed a master sinner like me to Jesus . . .  BUT . . .  “WHO DO YOU CALL WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHO NEEDS TO BE CALLED?!”

So . . . I need your HELP and Prayers to find those who need to be called to Jesus and/or the Church! I am on my knees not just for prayer to find those who need us, but also to beg for names or leads to promising people who will benefit from inclusion in our faith, community, and life! You don’t have to be overt; you can be covert! Even anonymous messages or hints will unleash me for a whirlwind of Love or a quiet chat!


PLEASE HELP ME BEFORE I GO MAD AND BECOME A MONK OF THE DARK! Call Dick Holland at 682-3319 ext112  or for technos – dholland@stmatthewswy.org

Friday, April 14, 2017

#39   Good Friday  by TheHumbleDisciple [Thanks to Matthew Kelley]

“Make no mistake, resistance is your enemy. It will not quietly go away and leave you alone. You have to slay it like a dragon, and you have to slay it anew each day.”

“So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him.” (John 19:17–18)

 How has Jesus on the cross inspired you to battle resistance?


Good Friday stands as the most solemn day of the Christian year because our Savior died the voluntary death of God Himself at the hands of man to redeem us from our sins. Good Friday remains the only day of the year on which no Mass is said due to the solemn nature of the story of Christ’s Passion. 
The Good Friday narrative explodes on the scene after the giddy, celebration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
In the short Matthew Kelly version: “On Friday, you got this guy being murdered. This guy who you have placed all of your hope in—you have left everything behind to follow Jesus—and now you see him being nailed to a cross. What did the disciples feel? And what were they thinking? Of course, we know a big part of what they were feeling was fear. They were afraid. They were afraid for their whole lives. They were afraid for what was going happen next. And they were disoriented. What does it feel like to be that disoriented?”
In the longer Biblical narration: During the night, one of the Twelve – Judas betrayed Jesus to arrest. While Jesus was taken before the high priests Annas and Caiaphas, Peter denied him. The following day, the events play out as portrayed in the Stations of the Cross: Jesus was taken before Pilate, sent to Herod, returned to Pilate, mocked and beaten, held as Barabbas is released, crowned with thorns, condemned to death, carried the crushing burden of his cross, told the weeping women of the future, left his image on Veronica’s veil as she comforted him by cleaning his face, excruciatingly crucified between two thieves, forgave those who crucified him, entrusted the Virgin Mary to the beloved disciple, assured the good thief of his salvation, proclaimed his “Seven Last Words”, and cried out and died.
In addition: darkness covered the earth, an earthquake shook the land, the temple veil tore in two, saints of the Old Testament were raised, a soldier pierced Christ's side and blood and water flowed forth, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus went to Pilate to asked for Jesus' body, he was buried in Joseph's own tomb, a guard was set over the tomb to ward off conspiracies of resurrection from a missing body, and Jesus' friends and family grieved at his death 
Focus - If Jesus had not beaten resistance, there would be no Easter.
Act - Spend some time in quiet reflection today. If you can, schedule some time during the three o’clock hour, when Jesus died on the cross. As you read today’s Gospel and reflect on Jesus’ passion and death, consider how he can inspire you to battle resistance in your own life.
Good Friday’s Gospel Reading: John 18:1–19:42


Pray - Jesus, may your victory on the cross fill me with the courage to persevere in times of difficulty, and the hope to see beyond the cross to the joy of the Resurrection!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

#38 The Triduum Begins With Holy Thursday  [Thanks Matthew Kelley]
by TheHumbleDisciple

“Jesus . . . got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter . . . Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’” (John 13:3–8)”

“God is constantly inviting us to immerse ourselves in the present moment so we can be with him.”

The high holy days of the Triduum burst upon us today! The events and consequences of these days printed in the Love and blood of Jesus present the basis for everything we need and want in faith, hope, and charity with the greatest gift of salvation to follow on Easter morn - salvation! Study and pray – Now is the time to forge your unique bond with the Father, through, with, and in Jesus, and in the unity and guidance of the Holy Spirit!
On Holy Thursday, the Church commemorates the Last Supper, which includes the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. All the elements for understanding the practice of Catholic Eucharist jump into being and form from the Love and sacrifice of Jesus. The vast array of emotions that the disciples go through is astounding, and so should it be for us!
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New” (CCC,129). The readings for Holy Thursday demonstrate powerfully while highlighting themes of sacrifice, thanksgiving, and charity. 
Not an ordinary Passover meal, although the ritual may have looked similar, Christ’s words breathed new meaning and ushered in the New Covenant. As the Lord instituted the Eucharist, we received an invitation to intimacy the likes of which the world had never known and could never best. In that Eucharistic institution, Jesus presented a new sacramental priesthood through which God’s children could regularly receive his divine mercy and taste salvation. In every single Mass—every liturgy from then until now, and from now until the end of time, the elements signify more than we comprehend, because it is not only the bread and wine upon the altar that are being blessed, broken, and shared, but we, ourselves, the mystical body of Christ, that are being changed, as well. The earthly ultimate communion with Christ begins, is, and ever shall be to the end of time!

As Christ washed the feet of the Apostles, a new vision of what servant leadership necessitates, unfolded. With this God-man, who they believe to be the Messiah, washing their feet, what did the disciples feel? What were they thinking? What would it feel like to have Jesus wash your feet?

Reflect upon the relevance of the events and consequences of Holy Thursday in our lives.

Focus - God wants good things for us, but, like Peter, we often resist him.
Act - As you read today’s Gospel, reflect on your life and ask two questions. First, how is God trying to love me? Second, how have I resisted God’s love in my life?
Holy Thursday’s Gospel Reading: John 13:1–15


Pray - God, help me to receive everything that you are pouring into me and to simply be with you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017



TheHumbleDisciple Presents Short Lenten Reflections
Adapted from Matthew Kelly

These short Lenten Reflections divulge truths about life’s happiness that are appropriate all-year but especially at Lent. Appearing six days a week [M – Sat.], on the seventh day “I shall rest!”, these reflections will appear under this Headline nearly daily. Adapted to present a short Reflection with a Focus, an Action, and a Prayer, these shorties will draw you to Matthew Kelly and Dynamic Catholic.com for life-giving books and presentations!

#37  World-Changing Days

“Tomorrow marks the end of Lent and leads us into the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter. We are about to enter into what the Church calls the Triduum—Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The Triduum is an incredible opportunity. Do not let resistance win. Persevere, and experience these days in a way that you never have before.”

“Through the brokenness of the world, the imperfection of other people and situations, and even our own limited humanity, God wishes to speak to us.”

We need new ways to focus ourselves when we read the Bible at different times in the Liturgical Year. Especially now, in the High Holy Days ending Lent and beginning the Triduum in hopeful anticipation of Easter, we need to read the Gospel Paschal message of Love, Passion, Death, Resurrection, Hope, and Salvation with a focus for “Me” so the greatest effect of the Jesus message rings true and clear in our hearts and minds!
For example, read a Gospel — maybe Matthew’s — with just one thing in mind – patience. Focus Matthew’s Gospel exploring the theme of patience: “Who was patient?” “Who was not patient?” “Where do I see patience playing out?” “Where do I see impatience playing out?” “How does it affect people’s lives?” “How does it affect situations?” “How does it affect history?” With your focus in mind – “What does this mean for your life?”
The example, Matthew’s Gospel, opens up with the genealogy, and what do we see first? We see that the Jewish people have been waiting patiently. The world has been waiting patiently for the Messiah. Praise God! Here is Jesus. “What is the portent for me?” “What should the portent be for me?”
Other times, use another theme or focus. For instance, read the Gospel of John and focus on gratitude. “Who is grateful?” “Who is ungrateful?” “When am I grateful?” “When am I ungrateful?” “How does this theme of gratitude effect my life?” “How should gratitude effect my life?”
As we enter the Triduum, these world-changing days, approach it with something in mind. One way might be to think, “Who am I going to be in the next four days?” Place yourself in the scene and focus: “In the next four days, I will be one of the disciples.” Therefore, over these four days as the disciples experience incredible shifts and swings, a vast range of emotions, and incredible experiences, you experience it as in life and emotionally by placing yourself there rather than just reading it on the page.
To top off your experience of your best Lent ever, you have these four days to experience the life-changing events that happened two thousand years ago in a way that you have never experienced them before. This is an incredible opportunity. This is an opportunity wasted some years; an opportunity that slips through the fingers other years. However, if you have a mindfulness, a focus, this year you are in a place to experience the Triduum as the highest of Christian drama, Hope, Love, and Salvation as you have never experienced it before!

Focus - God wants to speak to you throughout the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday). Are you ready to listen?
Act - Pick a word to define your Triduum experience. Choosing a word will bring focus and intentionality to the next three days.
During the Triduum, spend time reading the Gospel for each day. Use the word you chose to explore each Gospel reading.


Pray - Jesus, open my ears and heart to you as I reflect on your passion, death, and resurrection!

#36  Blessed and Grateful

“Without gratitude, what was extraordinary yesterday becomes ordinary today. Without gratitude, a sense of entitlement takes over and begins to rot our soul. Without gratitude, we get old and grumpy, or even young and grumpy. Gratitude keeps us young. It anchors us to the present moment. It reminds us of what matters most and what matters least, and fills us with the resolve to carry on the great mission God has entrusted to us.”

“Everything is a gift, and when you step back and truly consider it with any measure of honesty, it is all incredibly humbling.”

When discouraged or when emotionally down, the solution that works—works every time, works the best, and works the fastest—is gratitude. Nothing can change the internal emotional state as powerfully as getting into a space of gratitude - just to drawback from whatever is going on, draw back from whatever causes discouragement or emotional down turn to ask, “What am I most grateful for today?” or “What do I have to be grateful for today?” Then start to list the things, the people, the opportunities, and the experiences, to raise mentally positive gratitude in a place of negative ingratitude.
At times in your journey, things, people, events . . . will lower you emotionally, sap your strength, and bring you down. Sometimes life will discourage you. Sometimes people will criticize you and the people and/or the criticism will knock you off your true north. When you feel disoriented, you must find a way to get back on track, to refocus, to build that inner strength, to relight that flame within you. Gratitude is a very powerful technique for the positive and strength building.
So what are you grateful for today? Sit down, take a few minutes, grab a notepad . . . just make a gratitude list. Write down all the things for which you are grateful - the people, the opportunities, and the experiences
I am grateful for many things. However, resistance raises the negative over the positive more frequently and more easily when I forget gratitude. When I lose sight of the little things looking only for big or when I just lose sight. I can get focused on the smallest negative thing, the darkest thing, and then I can lose all sense of gratitude. Things slide south pretty quickly in the limbo of negativity – emotions droop, desire to do lags, creativity stagnates, and God whispering that I am important and the only one that can do and be who I am is drowned out by my own sighs of “poor me!” Regaining a positive, oriented gratitude repositions my life to the Loving, charitable, optimistic soul God needs, wants, and Loves.
What are you grateful for today? Take 5 minutes, 10 minutes . . . sit down with a blank pad and make a gratitude list. Gratitude orients and changes toward the positive and the loving any view of life. Gratitude changes the way we feel about life for the better. Gratitude nurtures positivity and satisfaction when we think about self and relationships with others. Most importantly, gratitude focuses life and relationships back where God wants the focus.

Focus - Gratitude anchors us to the present moment, reminding us of what matters most and what matters least.
Act - Count your blessings. Make a list of 10 people, experiences, things, or blessings for which you are grateful.
Pray - Loving Father, Thank You! Thank You for blessing me in so many incredible ways!

#Holy Week  Special thoughts for Holy Week 
by TheHumbleDisciple with thanks to Matthew Kelley

“What if we approached this last week of Lent, what the Church calls Holy Week, like a pilgrimage? We will experience Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday on our journey to Easter. Along the way, look for meaning. You are here for a reason. Ask, “What is God trying to say to me?”

“Life is like a pilgrimage, but sometimes we need a pilgrimage to discover life!”

Make Holy week a pilgrimage to the holiest shrine of your heart, In that pilgrimage as you examine the purpose of your life and how it connects with the passion of our Lord, your faith will experience a great resurrection so you may go forth to accomplish the mission of your life. During this week, connect with God to re-focus and to be like the spring flower to spring from the sleeping seed of your faith with faith, hope, and charity anew to flower after a needed growth and communion with the “Son”! The journey to the shrine and the renewal of faith from its spring of eternal strength from God is only a beginning to a fresh pilgrimage to God through our Lord and Savior Jesus. The Holy Spirit stands ready to guide you to and through your life’s mission and to finish the Great Pilgrimage of Life at the gates of Heaven.
God is calling in the shrine of your heart! Follow the Holy Spirit through the tragedy of the Passion and the exhilaration and saving power of the Hope and Salvation of the Resurrection to establish a greater relationship with God through the redeeming Love of our personal paschal sacrifice Jesus.
Acceptance of the gift of salvation and hope of Heaven given by God through Jesus begins a new life for you on Easter Monday. Will it be the same old life renewed or will you take time with the Holy Spirit to plot a new life of Christian joy?
Faith – Loving God above all else and showing that Love through selfless giving of the same Love to our “neighbors”! Love that intentionally presents the living example of Jesus in all things and times.
Hope – living the positive, Loving excitement and joy of a future with God through your faith while sharing that Hope and building similar faith in others!
Charity – Living the Love of God in daily life through unselfish sharing of what we have been given to steward by God. Loving by giving to those in need with whatever we have without thought of recompense or thanks; the hands of God in a needy world!
Four words embody the challenge to be Christian: “Thy will be done!”
Prayer changes everything, and nothing ever really changes until we ask God, “God, what should I do?”

What mission do you think God is calling you to now in your life? Do not get caught up in what he might have been calling you to in the past, or what he might call you to in the future. Just write down his invitation to you today as you can best discern it. Then do it!
What is your plan for spiritual health and growth?
Process: Plan – Do - Tweak [modify, change, re-plan, imagine] – Do – Celebrate!

#35  Do not Let the Critics Win

“It is so easy to let the critic distract you from what God is calling you to do in the present moment. It is amazing how easily you can allow the critic to rob us of our passion and energy. The critics will always be there, but it is not the critic that counts.”

““It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.” THEODORE ROOSEVELT”

 Everyone has critics. Criticism is a difficult part of life with which you must contend. You cannot just ignore it and think it will go away. Because of the massive influence, you must be careful about the voices you allow into your life. You must be careful about the voice of criticism. Although the voice of criticism can be a voice of coaching, the voice of criticism can also be a voice of distraction and a voice of discouragement.

God does not want you to experience discouragement. God does not want you to get down. You get down because you think it is what you are doing that is wrong. The truth is, whatever you are trying to do is God’s work. He should handle the critics. Nevertheless, you often let the critics take a powerful place in your life - might be your mom, might be your dad, might be your grandma, might be your mother-in-law, your sister-in-law, could be anybody. You cannot let their voices run rampant in your life.

Learn to bring the criticisms to God and say, “God, here they are. If there is something here, you want me to work on, give me some indication you want me to work on it. Otherwise, teach me to detach from this and not get discouraged.” When you get discouraged, you spend too much energy on something that has nothing to do with the mission. It is important to ask, “Is what this person is criticizing going to help the mission? Is it going to help me do the mission better?” If it is, take it on. It does not matter who says it, or how much you like them or do not like them. If it can help you become a-better-version-of-yourself, separate it from the personality of the person who said it, and use it. If it cannot help you do the mission better, if it will not help you become a-better-version-of-yourself, it is incidental, set it aside, and press on with the mission.
Mission is king. God has made you for mission. Anything that distracts you from the mission is not of God. You must learn to set it aside; stay focused, and never get discouraged by critics. The critics stop you from acting, from actually doing something, and distract you to think just about “stuff.” It is a very subtle resistance.
Resistance will use criticism because resistance hates action. Resistance hates when you actually do something. Resistance loves when you sit around moping about what the critics said about you. What God wants you to do is to step out of that discouragement. He wants you to break through that discouragement. He wants you to go out and do something. He wants you to act. He wants you to press on to do what he is calling you to do right now.
Focus - The critics will always be there, but you need to be careful not to allow their voices too much space in your heart.
Act - Reflect on a time when you allowed critics to have too much influence in your life, and how you would do it differently next time.

Pray - Jesus, help me persevere when I encounter critics. In those moments, help me simply to do the tiniest thing to move forward. I know you will do the rest.

#34  When God Looks at a Résumé
“God asks only one thing of us. He can take care of the rest. The one thing God needs from you is availability. It’s the only thing he needs from any of us. Make yourself available to God and incredible things will happen.”
“How available are you to God at this time in your life? 20%? 50%? 75%? 96.4%? Make yourself 100% available to God and incredible things will happen.”
When God looks through résumés looking for someone to send out on a mission, what does he look for? He doesn’t look for education; he’s not interested in where you went to school. He doesn’t look necessarily for experience; it doesn’t necessarily matter what you’ve done in the past. God doesn’t necessarily look for who you know, or who your contacts are, or that kind of thing.

When you look at the people God used throughout history—people that God sent out on great mission, to do incredible things—he almost never picks the people you would expect him to pick. He almost never picks the most likely people. He almost never picks the people in positions of power and authority. He almost never picks the people who are most educated, or best educated.

So what does God look for in a résumé? When God flips through résumés looking for someone to send out on a mission, he’s only looking for one thing. It’s a little bit like the loaves and the fishes. Just bring the little bit you have. He’ll bring everything else!

What is the one thing that God looks for in a résumé? Availability. That is all he wants from you. Availability. He wants you to make yourself available to him. What type of people does God use? He uses the people that make themselves available. People that pray a prayer of availability, a prayer of surrender, that come to God and say, “God, I’m 100% available. I will do whatever you ask me to do. Take what you want to take, give what you want to give. I am not holding anything back . . . just lead me, direct me. I am 100% available, and I will do whatever you ask me to do. Those are the people God uses. God answers that prayer every single time. Never once in the history of the world did God not answer that prayer. That is a prayer he always answers.

The questions for today: How available are you to God at this time in your life? 20%? 50%? 86%? 96.4%? What is stopping you from making yourself 100% available? When you think about what you’re missing out on from not making yourself 100% available, whatever it is you’re holding on for, is it really worth it?

Focus - Make yourself 100% available to God and incredible things will happen.
Act - Pray this prayer of transformation every day for nine days. Then make yourself 100% available!
Pray:
Loving Father,
I come to you today to make myself 100% available to you.
I lay everything I have and everything I am at your feet.
Take what you want to take,
and give what you want to give.
Command me in all things.
I will do whatever you ask me to do.
Transform me and transform my life,
so that I may become the-best-version-of-myself
and lead others to you with my life and my love!   Amen!

#33 Made for Mission

“What are your talents? What are you really good at? How is God calling you to make the world and the Church better through those talents?”

“Place your talents and enthusiasm at the service of life.” This was the message of St. John Paul the Great as he traveled around the world speaking to people of all ages. You were made for a mission. You were created to serve powerfully. You will never have lasting happiness until you realize this and act on it.

Have you ever tried to use a lawn mower as a dishwasher? You put the dishes into the lawn mower and you turn the lawn mower on and . . . things go bad quickly. Certain things have a certain purpose. When we use something that has a certain purpose for something else, things tend to go wrong quickly.
Our God is a God of purpose. He does things on purpose, with purpose, for purpose. As such, he created human beings for and with a purpose. Working out your purpose, who you are as a human being, and who you are individually, is living life to the fullest experiencing the incredible joy with which God wants to fill our lives.
Human beings are made for mission. We are not made to be served; we are made to serve. When we ignore that, at best, we get frustrated. At worst, we become miserable. Because any time you use something for which it was not created, then it is like using a lawn mower as your dishwasher. It just is not going to work.
What does that mean you are made for mission? God has placed you on this earth for some specific reason, for some specific mission, and he wants you to carry out that mission. We think, “How am I going to work that out?” We work it out little by little. You work it out by taking the step that is in front of you today. You work it out by realizing, “How can I serve other people today, even in small ways?” Thus, the more we serve other people, the more our mission becomes clearer to us.
Sometimes we will spend a year doing something or three years doing something, and we might even think that is our mission. However, then God will pull our life in a completely different direction. Later we will realize, “God had me doing that other thing because he was preparing me through that for this other mission. Just take the next right step, just do the next thing that you can do to serve other people, and God will lead and guide.
When we are all caught up in ourselves and we turn inward, things go bad quickly. There is not much joy in that. We do not find the happiness that God created for us in that. We find that happiness and joy by turning outward toward others and asking ourselves, “How can I serve the people around me powerfully today?” because we are made for mission. Therefore, the more we serve the people around us powerfully, the clearer that great mission God created us for will become.

Focus - You cannot be happy focused on yourself. You were made for mission. It is deep within you. Only by serving others in a meaningful way do we truly discover the happiness we yearn for so unrelentingly.
Act - What mission do you think God is calling you to now in your life? Do not get caught up in what he might have been calling you to in the past, or what he might call you to in the future. Just write down his invitation to you today as you can best discern it. Then do it!
Pray - God, I want to serve you powerfully. Which talent do you want me to focus on at this time in my life?

#32 Let Your Light Shine

“In Matthew 5:15, Jesus says, “Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel. They put it on a stand, so that it can give light to everyone in the house.” What stops you from letting your light shine?”

“God wants to fill you with his grace and courage so that you can go into the world and let your light shine.”

When Jesus said, “Let your light shine”. He did not say, “Those of you who have a light, you should let it shine. Those of you who don’t have a light, well you just don’t have a light.” He said, “Let your light shine”. He knew that we all have a light to shine and an awareness to know when that light within us is bright and strong, and when that light is dim and weak. We have two questions to turn into action: “What makes our light dim, and what makes it strong?” and “How are we letting our light shine?”
When you ask spiritual people, “What are your talents?” What are you really good at?”, or “What’s the one thing that is your thing—that one at which you are just really good?” Often people will say, “Well I don’t really have any talents. I mean, I’m sort of good at this, and I’m OK at that.” Often we get trapped saying, “I’m not the best cello player.”, “I’m not the best basketball player.”, or a multitude of negative statements of those sorts. In a culture of spectacular things, we can think, “Well, my talents are not spectacular.” That is not the question. The question is not, “What spectacular talents do you have?” The question is, “What talents do you have?” The truth is we all have talents and abilities.
The clarifying truth is you have the perfect set of talents needed to fulfill the mission that God has given you. It does not matter what talents you do not have. It does not matter what talents your brothers and sisters have. It does not matter what talents your parents had that you do not have. It does not matter what talents your friends have that you think are important, that you do not have. You have the perfect set of talents that you need to fulfill your mission from God.
Start focusing and asking, “What talents does God want me to focus on now?” He wants our light to shine. He wants that light to be strong. He wants our lives to intrigue people. When our lives intrigue people, they get curious about how our light grew so strong. When they grow curious about how our light developed so strong and bright, we have an opportunity to draw them one-step closer to God.
Christianity spread for two thousand years because our lights are strong and bright because we intrigue people, so they get curious. Then we have the incredible privilege, the deep honor of helping them step closer to God.

Focus - You have the perfect personality and talents to fulfill the mission God is entrusting to you.

Act - Which of these traits most prevents you from letting your light shine?

Fear
Gossip
Laziness
Excuses
Selfishness
Addiction
Obsession
Self-doubt
Procrastination
Negative relationships
Unwillingness to move beyond your comfort zone
Allowing your critics to drain your energy and direct your life



Pray - Jesus, I want to live my life with joy. Give me the courage to let my light shine, do-good works, and give you glory.

#31 A Weekend Away

The concept of becoming the-best-version-of-yourself helps us make sense of everything. All parts of your life are affected. Everything in your life should ask, “Is this helping me become the-best-version-of-myself or hindering me from becoming a-better-version-of-myself?”


“We all need people to do life with, friends to accompany us on the pilgrimage of life. What makes a great friend? Our best friends are those people who encourage and challenge us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves.”

“I was comfortable and satisfied, and looking back that should have set off alarm bells, but we all have blind spots. If it were not for my friends, I would probably be out there doing the same old thing. That would be a tragedy. Thank God for interventions. Thank God for friends who care enough to intervene.”

Has a friend called you to be a-better-version-of-yourself?
Have you called a friend to be a-better-version-of-herself or himself?

When you think about the friends of your life, and not just your friends right now but the friends of your life, one thing remains universally true: Some people help us become a-better-version-of-ourselves and some people do not. This is a two-way street. Some people we are helping to become the-best-version-of-themselves, and some people we are not. In fact, worse than that, sometimes we are hindering someone from becoming a-better-version-of-themselves because of the type of friendship that we are extending to that person.


Sooner or later, we rise or fall to the level of our friendships. You cannot make this journey alone. When you think about the spiritual journey, when you think about what God is calling you to, you cannot make this journey alone. That is why Jesus did not send out disciples in ones, he sent them out twos because he realized people have bad days. People need to be encouraged. People need to feel like they belong. People need a pat on the back from time to time and to hear, “Hey, good job!” People are people, and that is you and me. We have a need to make this journey with other people, and other people have a need to make this journey with us.

Friendship is a beautiful thing, but it is also an enormous responsibility. Our friendship is either helping people or hindering people from making their spiritual journey. Our friendship is either helping or hindering people from becoming the-best-version-of-themselves. Today look around your circle of friends to do an examination: “Who is helping you become a-better-version-of-yourself?” Then ask yourself, “How am I helping these people to become the-best-version-of-themselves?”

To step it up a notch, to take friendship to a new level, proactively ask, “How can I help this friend become a-better-version-of-herself or himself.

Focus - Our best friends encourage and challenge us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves. They do not let us waste our lives, and they push us to serve powerfully. Has a friend called you to be a-better-version-of-yourself? Have you called a friend to be a-better-version-of-herself or himself?

Act - Who in your circle is God calling you to encourage or challenge to become a-better-version-of-themselves?


Pray - Jesus, help me to strive for meaningful friendships that bring me to you.

#30  The First Intervention

“Have you ever really had a plan for spiritual health and growth?”

“Have you ever really had a plan for spiritual health and growth? We may have had some incredible spiritual experiences over the years, but it is the ordinary daily spiritual practices that matter most. These day-to-day encounters with God are a hundred times more important than the extraordinary grace-filled experiences that God gives us sometimes.”

From time to time, we need a spiritual checkup. We need to ask, “Am I spiritually fit? Am I spiritually healthy?” But also, we need to plan to increase our spiritual health. We need a blueprint for a plan to get spiritually healthy. A personal plan will have different components unique to you. Some of them might be daily components, some might be annual components, and some might be just things you need just once.

However, no one plan can say, “This is for everyone.” Furthermore, the plan for now might not necessarily be the plan for you next year or the year after that, because there are seasons in our lives, and there are different things that need attention and focus at different times in our lives. Therefore, not only do you need a plan to grow spiritually and to develop spiritual health, you need to do spiritual checkups from time to time to update and match current needs.
Today is a good day to ask, “Am I spiritually fit? How healthy am I spiritually?” Further, “What is going be my plan? Is it going be some daily prayer? Is it going to be some spiritual reading? Is it going to be visiting the lonely? Is it going to be getting more involved in my parish?” What is going be your plan? Write it down. Make a blue print or a map to follow. Then do it! Tweak (modify, change, re-plan, imagine) it. Do it! Tweak. Do it! Until your spiritual health is truly in tune with God bringing true joy, happiness, and genuine satisfaction and fulfillment! Then celebrate your success because God is celebrating with you! Then redo the cycle for more!
The architect does not say, “OK, I’ve got it all in my head now, let’s start building.” The architect writes it down; he draws the lines. Therefore, the builder can confidently say, “OK, he wants that there, that there . . .”
We need a plan. We need to write it down. Actually follow it. Tweak it. Then continue to follow it too real successes. It is possible that never in your life have you had such a plan. However, that is actually good news because it shows that incredible things are still possible. If you already plan, develop your plan for greater success to a closer relationship with our Lord through intentional prayer, works, and learning. An important part of the process that should happen periodically is celebration. Celebrate your success to get excited to do more!
Take some time today to reflect on a passionate, practical, purposeful spiritual direction plan that you will actually do. Then, write yourself a plan—not too long, not too short. Write yourself a plan and give it a time: Plan, Do, Tweak, Do, Tweak, Do . . .  Is this a plan for a year? Is it a plan for a month? Put yourself together a plan to get spiritually healthy. Great things are about to happen, as soon as you put that plan together. Great things are about to happen!

Process: Plan – Do - Tweak [modify, change, re-plan, imagine] – Do – Celebrate!

Focus – What is your plan? Have you ever really had a plan for spiritual health and growth?
Act - How are you going to grow spiritually? Write down a plan. Follow it! Tweak! Celebrate!


Pray - Jesus, I want to live the full life you have for me. Help me dedicate myself to spiritual growth.

#29   Are You A Pilgrim Or a Tourist?

“Do you ever think about heaven? We are only here on Earth for the blink of an eye. This is not our home. That is why the happiness that God wants and created us for is very different from the fleeting happiness and momentary pleasures of this world. We are just passing through, and it is helpful to remind ourselves of that from time to time.”

“We are always hungry for something more complete, and God is that completeness that we yearn for from the depths of our soul.”

“What is a Pilgrim?” A Pilgrim behaves radically different from a tourist. Right at the core dominates an awareness or a yearning for God to speak to us, to lead us, to direct us, to disclose his will, and to show us what he wants from us or for us. The pilgrim always looks for those signs.
The pilgrim is patient above all else. If the flight is delayed, the tourist says, “Aw, I’m going to miss this . . . I already made these plans and it is all ruined.” However, the pilgrim asks, “What is God trying to teach me through this delayed flight? Is God trying to teach me to be more patient? Is God trying to teach me that I need to slow down? What is God trying to say to me?” Always proactive, the pilgrim looks for the signs not waiting for God to beat him/her over the head with a message - eyes wide open, looking for the signs.
“Are we pilgrims, or are we tourists?” Some people live life like a tourist, but we are called to live our lives like pilgrims. We are just passing through this earth. Therefore, it is very important from time to time to remind ourselves we are on this journey to be with God. We are on this journey to be with God forever in eternity. This is not home; we are passing through this place. When you think about how quickly life does pass, and about how quickly we do pass through this life, it is important to ask ourselves, “Are we preparing ourselves to live in heaven? Are we prepared for the next life?” Therefore, if we are not prepared, “What do we need to do to get prepared?”
As we make this journey as pilgrims, how do we get prepared to live with God forever in eternity? When the horrendous temptation, the horrendous draw, to think of this world as all there is, to think of this world as, “this is it, this is home.” strikes then we rob ourselves of infinite possibilities, and we start to live in ways that don’t lead us to God, that don’t lead us to happiness, that don’t lead us to that-very-best-version-of-ourselves.

Focus - We are just passing through this place we call Earth. We are pilgrims. “What is a Pilgrim?”
Act - Spend some time today thinking about heaven.


Pray - A PILGRIM’S PRAYER  by Thomas Merton
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following Your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

#28   The Light Is On

“If there is one battle that resistance has dominated in the hearts and minds of Catholics for the past 50 years, it surrounds confession. We just stopped going. We all have a great need for healing. But we resist it. We resist God. We resist his forgiveness. We resist happiness.”

“Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with others, and never stop striving to be all that God created you to be: the-very-best-version-of-yourself.”

While most people who are sick go to the doctor, some people can be really, really sick, but they will not go to the doctor. Spiritually, we often fall into that category. We know we are sick, we know we need healing, we know we are sinners; we know we need forgiveness, but we will not go to confession.
Confession is genius, not only spiritually, but also psychologically. Sin makes us sad. Sin is a heavy thing for us to carry around us. However, confession takes all that stuff. It allows us to feel light, feel free, and feel a fresh start!
I love fresh starts. I love a new year. I love a new month. I love fresh or new . . . I need a fresh start a lot. I need a clean slate. I get myself into all sorts of trouble. And, what I need often, I just need a new start.
Something really powerful, something really practical, something really beautiful happens when in confession I say, “Merciful God, this is who I am, this is what I did, this is what I thought, this is what I did not do that I should have done. In your mercy, please let us try again! Please give me more grace, more strength, and more courage!” God and I have a reconciliation and a strengthening of our relationship! I do my penance because I want to heal and return to the world whole, contrite, to salve the wounds I opened and to fix the damage I did! Then back out I go, clean, reenergized, clear-headed, ready to meet the world positively with God at my back, ready to go again!.
The light for the confessional shines with beauty just for you. The light is on; God is waiting for you. If it has been a long time God does not care because he has been waiting patiently and Lovingly just for You! If it is something that is regular for you, this is a great time to make a great confession, to make an extraordinary confession, to take a deeper look at your life, to go maybe a little deeper than you have in the past to say, “I am falling on my knees before You most Merciful, Loving God to ask for a fresh start, a new beginning in You!.”
Focus - We all have a great need for forgiveness and healing.
Act - No matter how long it has been, go to Reconciliation this week.

Pray - Jesus, help me break through resistance and go to confession. Help me to be gentle yet honest, and help me to accept the healing you want to give me.
#27   The Secret to Excellence

“You can get good at something just by working hard at it. If you have some talent and you work hard at it, you can get really, really good at it. But excellence, peak performance, being the best you can be at something—that doesn’t happen without coaching (mentoring).”

“Resistance encourages us to take it easy and settle for mediocrity. God created us for happiness, and he fills us with great joy as we strive for excellence, especially in the spiritual life.”

It is natural to seek people who have been successful at something and to ask them questions. What are we doing? We are looking for coaching (mentoring). This is basically the great example or great experience. Nobody achieves excellence at anything without coaching (mentoring) or the experienced example.
Very rarely is it a formal coaching (mentoring) relationship. Most often, it is a conversation or a series of conversations talking about things: “I am working on this . . .  or I am struggling with this . . .  or How did you do that? or How did you make that happen?” The most used method is simply adapting the example of someone who has “been there – done that”
Coaching (mentoring) plays a critical, absolutely essential part in our lives. Think about when a woman has a baby for the first time. What does she do? She asks other moms: “What did you do about this?” or “What did you do about that?” Maybe she asks her own mother or her own grandma: “What is going on here? or How do I . . . ??” It is part of the generational experience of humanity that we pass along knowledge, that we pass along wisdom, and that we pass along expertise and “know-how” to other people.
Some people say: “I am going to do it all on my own. or I am not going to have any teammates. or I am not going to have any coaches.” What happens? Mediocrity! They make silly mistakes. They make amateur mistakes that never would have happened if example, experience, or a coach (mentor) had been followed.
Coaching (mentoring) is essential to excellence. Wherever you want to be excellent in your life, you need coaching (mentoring) — you need coaches (mentors). Of course, the spiritual life is the same. “Who is coaching you spiritually?” It does not mean, “Oh, I need to have a human spiritual coach near.” If you do or if you can, that is a great thing, but it is hard to find. Maybe our spiritual coaches become the saints. Maybe our spiritual coaches become books. Most obviously, the Church can become our greatest example, experience, and our greatest coach (mentor). We must be constantly looking for examples, experience, and spiritual coaches to achieve excellence in the spiritual life.
The Church is basically example, experience, or a coach (mentor) sometimes: “Do not do these things, allow our experience to save you from incredible suffering. or Do not do these things; use our experience to avoid these horrible situations that will be painful for you.” Using the Church as example, experience, or as a coach (mentor) advances your spirituality and your conscience development more quickly and more effectively with fewer bumps and “hard-way” experiences
Maybe the obvious question is, “Are we striving for excellence in the spiritual life, or are we satisfied with mediocrity?” As soon as we start striving for excellence, we start looking for spiritual coaches.

Focus - Nobody achieves excellence at anything without spiritual coaching (mentoring).
Act - Seek out a spiritual coach (mentor).

Pray - God, help me to know that holiness is possible for me.

#26   You Cannot Succeed at Anything Without . . .

“On the day you decide to intentionally start denying yourself, your life will improve in a thousand ways. As Saint Augustine wrote, “Conquer yourself and the world lies at your feet.”

“God wants us to have a strong mind, a strong heart, and a spirit that soars with so much strength that nothing in this world can weigh it down. These things can only be accomplished with prayer and fasting.”

It is fascinating and enlightening to see the similarities between people who are successful in business, people who are successful in sport, people who become saints, and people who are just great livers. In successful lives of any kind, success flows from common themes.
One of the most important themes in the lives of successful people is the theme of delayed gratification. It would seems that one could not be successful at anything without delaying gratification. Success does not just show up and make itself yours. You must develop a process to be excellent at something, and that process always requires delayed gratification.
Someone who sets out to become a saint practices delayed gratification, as does someone who sets out to be successful in business, successful in sport, or successful in life. For instance, you cannot be successful in marriage unless you are willing to delay gratification. You cannot be a great parent unless you are willing to delay gratification, because the sense is just to embrace whatever feels good and whatever seems good. However, sometimes you realize, “Whoa, I must hold back a little bit here.” Sometimes you realize, “You know what, loving my child is not giving my child this thing, loving my child is not giving my child this thing.”
The Church wants you to experience excellence in everything you do. The Church wants you to become the-best-version-of-yourself. The genius in Catholicism comes from its phenomenal practicality. Who else for two thousand years has been saying, “Delayed gratification is one of the keys to living a happy, fulfilling life”? Nobody! It is unpopular sometimes to announce the truth. Moreover, it is certainly unpopular at this time in history to announce, “Delayed gratification is a path to happiness, a path to excellence.”
As we make this journey together, it is important for us to ask ourselves, “How do we delay gratification? Why does it matter? How is not delaying our gratification hurting us? And, How has not delaying our gratification in the past hurt us?” Because you must be really convinced that this concept is real—that there is truth in it, that there is wisdom in it before you will apply the concept powerfully into your life!

Focus - You cannot succeed at anything unless you are willing to delay gratification. This ability and success are intimately linked.
Act - Say “No” to yourself at least once every day.

Pray - Jesus, I want to deny my false self so I can find my true self. Grant me the strength and the courage to trust that delaying gratification leads to happiness.

#25   Breaking the Cycle

“Breaking down the destructive cycles in our lives is never easy. It is not something we can do on our own. We need the encouragement and prayers of the people around us, and we need the grace of God.”

“To love is to freely give ourselves to another. In order to freely give ourselves, we must first possess ourselves. We all have destructive cycles of thought or behavior that need to be broken. Breaking the cycle is never easy, but we can only love another to the extent that we are free.”

A focus of Lent should be while it is good for us to give something up; it is also good for us to do something very positive—to take on a new habit.
It is important that we not lose sight of fasting as one of the central concepts of Lent. Why do we fast? God uses fasting to liberate us. There is a fabulous story in the Scriptures. Jesus sends out the disciples in twos and gives them power to do all sorts of things. When they are coming back, a couple of the disciples encountered this child. They try to heal the child, but they cannot. When Jesus comes along, he takes care of it. The disciples are confused. “You sent us out. You told us we were going to be able to do the things you do. What happened here? Why couldn’t we get this done?” Jesus said, “Some demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.”
Think about what overwhelms you, what enslaves you, and what gets you down and keeps you down. What is one thing that you are struggling with now, or what is one thing you have been struggling with for a long time? This is the message that Jesus has for us in those situations, because we are all struggling with something. It might change at different times in our lives, but we are all struggling with something. “It doesn’t matter how strong your will is. You might have the strongest willpower of any person in your circle of influence, but willpower is not going to get this done. Because you have tried, have you not? You have tried to overcome that thing you are struggling with. You put all your mind and strength into it, but it is still there.” Jesus finishes, “You cannot do this. First, you must realize you cannot overcome this. It is bigger than you, and you need me to help you overcome this. Some demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.”
What is it in your life that can only be cast out by prayer and fasting? Are you praying about it? Are you coming before God and saying, “God, I can’t get this done. I have tried it a hundred times. I throw myself on your mercy. I’m begging you to help me with this.”
Secondly, is the fasting. Fasting is self-denial. It is saying, “I will give something up. I will deny myself my pleasure, my cravings, my self-interest. I will deny myself. I will fast.” Once you experience the power of fasting in your life, you will be converted to its power. You will give it a place in your life forever.
Like so many things about God, church, and religion: Talk about it and it is interesting, but experience it and it changes us! We become that new creation Jesus talked about so often when he walked the earth.
Therefore, rediscover prayer and fasting. Think about what it is and how can you employ it in your life. How is God inviting you to make it a part of your spirituality?

Focus - We are all struggling with something. Identify your something. Name it. Own it.
Act - Pray and fast, asking God to liberate you from that area of slavery in your life. How have you overcome a big struggle in your life? Learn what you did; then repeat it! Share the process.
Pray - Heavenly Father, I want to be free. Help me give this struggle to you, because you are the only one who can liberate me.

#24   Hungry

“Figuring out what we are really hungry for is one of the great spiritual quests of life. Why? What is the purpose of hunger? Every yearning we experience as human beings is a yearning for something more complete. Do you know what you are hungry for?

“Every yearning is in some mysterious way a yearning for God. While we are searching for him far and wide in this world, he is waiting for us in the very depths of our souls.”

In our modern world of comfort and convenience, we do not necessarily experience physical hunger often. We can deal with our physical hunger quickly in most situations. However, we have many different hungers. We have spiritual hungers, emotional hungers, and intellectual hungers. With hunger lurking around every aspect of the human person, getting in touch with our hunger is one of the great spiritual gifts. It is actually a derivative gift from the gift of awareness.
How aware are we of what is going on around us? How aware are we of what is going on within us? Do we know what we are hungry for? Do you know what you are hungry for at this time in your life?
The Scriptures say that Jesus came to feed the hungry and to heal the sick. Obviously a very literal reading of the Scriptures might say, “I am not hungry, and I am not sick.” Nevertheless, we are! We are hungry. We are sick. Do we know our hunger? Do we know our sickness?
I was talking to a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago. He was reading Resisting Happiness, and he just finished the chapter on hunger. My friend is a very, very successful professional athlete, so I said to him, “What did you work out?” He said, “You know, to be honest, I’m hungry for community.” He said that being famous as a sporting figure and being wealthy are both impediments to authentic community.

We all yearn for that community. We all yearn to belong. Why do kids go off and join gangs? Why do people go off and join cults? Why do people get themselves into these situations? We have this yearning for community! We have this hunger to belong!
What are you hungry for? Maybe you are hungry for community, or maybe you are hungry for something else, but we are all hungry for something. Thankfully, Jesus came to feed the hungry.

Focus - We are all hungry for something.
Act - Write down everything you are hungry for at this time in your life.
Pray - God, I need you. Give me the patience and awareness to let my hunger for things of this world lead me to the deeper need and yearning that I have for you.

#23   Attempted Murder

“There is a direct relationship between truth and happiness. Truth leads to happiness. Lies bring misery. Celebrate truth in your life.”

“We cannot be happy separated from the truth; we cannot be happy in a world of lies.”

You probably do not like being lied to. Most people are not that comfortable being lied to. Most people would not say, “Oh yeah, I don’t mind if my friends lie to me. I don’t mind if my spouse lies to me.”
It is interesting to see how casual our relationship is with the truth. And of course, like many things, it starts in small ways. We think, “Oh, just a little lie here, or a little lie there.” And then, little by little, it begins to unravel, and we end up with a very casual relationship with the truth. Worse than having a casual relationship with the truth, we actually live in a culture that is trying to murder truth.
The secular culture hates truth. The current culture does not believe in objective or absolute truth. The current culture does not believe that anything is true for everyone. The current culture preaches the ideas, “You have your truth, and I have my truth. What is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me. You live your truth, and I will live my truth. You do whatever you want do, and I will do whatever I want do. You leave me alone, and I will leave you alone. In the end we will all live happily ever after, in our own individual truth.” This is absolute nonsense because some things are absolute or objective, thus true for everybody.
In a culture that is trying to murder truth, one of the casualties is wisdom, because truth and wisdom are intimately connected. Wisdom is not the amassing of knowledge. Wisdom is not even just an elevated form of knowledge. Google does not have any wisdom with all the knowledge in the world. Because wisdom is truth livedWisdom is not just knowing the truth, but living the truth.

You see a lot less wisdom in our culture. Further, if there is no such thing as truth, as our culture would like you to believe, well then there is actually no such thing as wisdom: You have your own truth, and your own truth equates to your own wisdom; I have my own truth, and my own truth equates to my own wisdom. So really, if everything is wisdom, then there is no such thing as wisdom.

The greatest practical casualty in this war against truth is the good decision. As our culture tries to murder truth, wisdom becomes a casualty. Then good decisions become a casualty. There can be no “better” decisions because no object truth exists so every decision becomes equal. However, reality and God say some decisions are better than other decisions. Some choices are better than other choices. What makes them better? How closely they align with truth. And, when decisions align with truth, that is wisdom.

The great daily challenge is to align our lives with truth, to reject the causal relationship with truth to say, “I take truth seriously! I will speak and live the truth in all situations!” Even in the little things that seem insignificant, truth is necessary so as not erode your relationship with truth.
So as Christians, we are called to have a serious relationship with truth. We are called to take truth seriously, not just to have a casual relationship of convenience with truth.

Focus - Our culture is trying to murder truth.
Act - Give truth a place of honor in your heart, mind, and soul by telling the truth. Next time you catch yourself about to tell a lie, pause. Ask yourself why you are lying.
Pray - Jesus, I know you are the way, the truth, and the life. Inspire me to speak the truth, live the truth, and celebrate truth.

#22   How Many Sundays Left? 
   
“The average life expectancy of an American male is 76. On average, an American female lives to 81. Based on those estimates, how many Sundays do you have left? It may sound like a lot, but they go quickly. What will you do with the Sundays you have left?

“Don’t waste a single Sunday. If you don’t waste Sundays, you will be less likely to waste Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.”

It is so easy to waste life. We do not waste life a decade, a week, or a month at a time. We waste life in moments. However, it is also moments where we talk about people’s lives changing. People say, “Wow, that book really changed my life,” or “The work you guys are doing at Dynamic Catholic is really life changing.”
When you think about it, people do not change that much. Do you know anyone in your life who has really changed life? Who said, “No, I am fed up! I am dissatisfied!” then followed a radically different path? It does not happen that often, but it should happen more often than it does.
It does not happen is because we are incredibly comfortable wasting life. We are incredibly comfortable wasting an hour here, wasting a day there, or wasting a week. Nevertheless, to get out of that thinking is very, very important. It is time to begin valuing each moment. That is the thinking of champions and the saints.
Think about the Olympics. The difference between a gold medal and a silver medal can be a tenth of a second. They use that to motivate themselves. They use that to motivate themselves when they are thinking, “Ugh, I don’t want to go to training today,” or “I don’t want to go to my third training for the day today. I feel like blowing it off. I feel like procrastinating.”
Think about how short life is and think about how long eternity is . . . Do we think about heaven? Do we think about eternity? Do we think about what moments in our lives make the difference between what matters most and what matters least? How will we see life differently when we are on the other side? How will we regret the moments we wasted? Because we do waste life and that is a tragedy!
Talk to someone who is dying to ask him/her, “What would you give for another day? Another healthy day to do whatever you felt you wanted to do or needed to do . . . what would you give for that?” You ask that person, they know how important a life is. They know how important a day is.
This is your day today. Go out and get it! Go out and get it. Do not waste a single moment today—just today. Do not worry about tomorrow, or the next day, the next week, the next . . . just act today.
Get out there! Get a hold of life! Do not waste a single moment today!

Focus - Life is short. Never waste a day.
Act - Based on actuarial estimates, how many Sundays do you have left? Count them. Use them!  If you had one Sunday left, what would you do?

Pray - God, I know every moment is a gift. Help me to break through resistance when I am tempted to waste the time you have given me.

#21    The Power of Habits

“For better or for worse, habits can shape our destiny. We all have habits, good and bad. Negative habits of the mind, body, and spirit are easily formed. Positive habits of the mind, body, and soul require great intentionality and persistence. But once gained they are like ground that is won forever.”

“Strong habits will help you break through resistance. Good habits effortlessly defeat it.”

When you look at people who are successful at anything, they have great habits. You often hear people say, “Well the secret to my success was this.” or, “The secret to my success was that.” In the daily lives of people who are phenomenally successful, they practice habits that rock, that keep them grounded, and that keep them anchored. When things get tough or great, these things keep them grounded. In fact, the saints applied habits that were like boulders in their day, boulders in their lives, that kept them grounded, that kept them anchored. However, they were not extraordinary habits. They were very, very, very ordinary habits. Think about the habit of daily prayer. It is an ordinary habit for a saint. Every saint in history implemented a habit of daily prayer. Even though an ordinary habit, when prayer transforms our lives as an anchor or an immovable object every day, it becomes phenomenally powerful for both our spiritual and temporal lives.
You have good habits and bad habits. However, sometimes we get obsessed with a bad habit. Particularly when we start trying to grow spiritually or when we start assessing our lives and our character, most of us often come to some bad habits that we realize, “Wow, these habits have got to go. They have to get kicked out of my life.” But, the amateur mistake focuses on that bad habit. Unfortunately, whatever we focus on tends to grow in our lives. So the more we focus on a bad habit, the more we obsess, the harder, it is to get rid of that bad habit. Instead of focusing on the bad, focus on good habits that crowd out the bad leaving space in your life for only the good!
Whether the need is to grow a great habit or to get rid of a bad habit, say, “What old habits do I have to cultivate or which new ones do I create to meet my goal?” Chances are many good little habits will develop, rather than one big one. But make no mistake; our lives do change when our habits change. If you have not been in the habit of praying daily and you take 10 minutes a day, every day, for the next 60 days to 100 days, your life will change!
How do you want your life to be different this year? How is God is calling you to be different as a person of character and virtue? Reverse engineer it. Ask yourself, “What sort of great habits would that person have? As A-very-best-version-of-myself, what would be my daily habits, weekly habits, monthly habits, or yearly habits?”
Many great spiritual heroes had an annual habit of going away on retreat or going away on pilgrimage. Therefore, it is not just the things we do daily. To create this ritual, this rhythm, these very powerful, powerful, powerful routines of habit in our lives, we must be consistent and persistent over time to obtain the powerful results.
At the ocean, you see a huge rock face at the shore and ask, “Over time, who’s going to win?” The rock face looks strong, powerful, and immovable. Nevertheless, over time, the ocean is going to win. In fact, the ocean is winning. If you go back to you look at where that rock face was even ten years ago, you realize, “Wow! The ocean’s winning.” It might take a long time, but the ocean will win. Great Habits are like the steady in and out of the ocean breaking down the rocks, barriers, obstacles in our lives.
Focus - Habits—good and bad—have an enormous impact on our lives. “When was the last time you set out intentionally to create a life-changing habit?
Act - Write down your three best habits. Now write down three habits that you need to change.

Pray - Jesus, I know that every moment is a chance to turn it all around. Help me to defeat my bad habits and to embrace the habits that lead me to you.

#20    Learning to Listen  
   
“From time to time it is good for us all to learn to listen again. Listen to those you love. Listen to your body. Listen to your conscience and soul. Listen to God.”

“Every relationship improves when we really start to listen, especially our relationship with God.”

When you look at the different relationships in your life, you probably realize that some are going better than others are. You might realize that some have become a little dysfunctional. You might realize that some are in a bad spot or in a bad patch. There is probably one or two of those relationships that you would really like to see blossom in a new way or you would really like to see them thrive at a new level. Sometimes, it is your best relationships that you want to see go to higher level.
If you want to improve a relationship, one of the fastest and easiest ways to improve a relationship is to become a better listener. Every relationship improves when we really learn to listen in a deeper way, in a new way, in a fresh way. Best of all, that includes our relationship with God.
If there is a particular relationship in your life that you would like to see thrive and blossom in a new way, really focus on how you are listening to that person. Are you giving that person your full attention? When you are with that person, are you open to distractions and disruptions, or do you put your phone away and block off distractions and disruptions so you can give that person your full attention?
When we think about our listening and focus on our listening in a new way, we expand the experience of Mass. In a culture obsessed with entertainment, it is easy to fall into a passive state that is completely disappointed from an entertainment perspective. However, we do not go to church to be entertained. We go to church to listen to the voice of God in our lives. We do go to church to receive Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist. Thus, our involvement at Mass should be intentional, active, and conscious, especially when it comes to listening.
One of the things that has helped me become a great listener at Mass is the Mass Journal. It is an amazing source of inspiration. It is amazing to go back to look at the things that God was saying to me in the past. It is astounding to see how I was making a huge deal about something, and it is not a big deal. In fact, it was never a big deal. I was making a big deal out of nothing. It is interesting to go back to see the things I was really struggling with, but I am not struggling with that thing anymore. God’s grace has come into that part of my life and liberated me. It is also enlightening to see that there were other things I was struggling with in the past that I am still struggling with today. It shows that God’s voice in our lives is present, it is active, and it is personal.
Next Sunday, go to church as a proactive listener. You will be astounded, enlightened, energized, and motivated by the messages God delivers to us every single Sunday of our lives.

God is deeply interested in personally communicating with us in a very powerful way. The question is, “Are we listening?”
Focus - The most practical way to improve all our relationships is continually to become a better listener.
Act - Make a conscious effort to listen to God and the people in your life. Try a Mass journal or a Relationship with God journal.
Pray - Lord, help me to listen to your voice at Mass. I know if I do, I will go out focused, energized, and invigorated.

#19    Bored     

“Boredom is a manifestation of selfishness. It can only occur when we are overly focused on ourselves. It always means that we have set God and neighbor aside to focus exclusively on ourselves, and that is never a recipe for happiness.”

“To say we are bored at any moment in our lives is a massive insult to God, but to say we are bored at Mass takes the insult to a whole other level.”

If you want to insult God, tell him you are bored. That is one of the greatest insults we can give to God. When you think of all God has given you: life, this incredible planet, everything, everyone, every possibility, and every opportunity that exists at every single moment of every single day, boredom is an insult of staggering proportions.
For more than fifty years, we have struggled with the idea — particularly from young people — that Mass is boring and Church is boring. The message has evolved for adults, who are supposed to be more sophisticated than children: “There’s nothing relevant in the Mass.” Has the Mass become irrelevant to modern people’s lives?
Two worlds are colliding. The world of the Mass - the world of God stimulated and perpetuated by God’s worldview - and the life of modern man. The problem is not the irrelevance of the Mass nor the sudden boringness of church. The problem springs from the irrelevance of our lives to God’s worldview.
Our lives have become boring to the modern context because we have lost that which makes them unique. We have lost that which makes them handmade. We have lost the great yearning to become the-best-versions-of-ourselves. Therefore, for most, life has fallen into the trap of being generic and mass-manufactured.
The Mass remains the great call to Sabbath, the great call to step back, the great call to reflect, the great call to think more deeply about our lives than our culture naturally challenges us to think. If we find the Mass boring or irrelevant, those should be alarm bells to go to the Lord to find the Loving, Merciful, unique, handmade answers!
When we go to church on Sunday, it is impossible to be bored if we go to listen to the voice of God in our lives. Nevertheless, far too often that is not the goal. Often we go to church, but we do not want God’s input in our lives. Therefore, if you are going to church on Sundays but you have forgotten the beauty of the Mass, the powerful drama unfolding for your mercy grace, and conversion, and you are not interested in doing the will of God, you are not interested in listening to God, and you are not interested in changing your life as God invites you to change, that would become boring. Maybe even worse than boring, the Church could be annoying.
Practically and realistically, a certain amount disengagement and bowing to resistance is human and it can be a stimulus to powerful action and reaction that revitalizes our resolve and functioning through a clearer, more consistent, passionate, intentional, purposeful relationship with God. However, when we resist God about something, or we disengage a little bit at Mass, or we get lazy in prayer, or we get lazy in spiritual reading, or we focus more on self and become more self-interested and more selfish, we become unhappier, because when we resist God, we resist happiness!

Focus - To say we are bored at any moment of our lives is a massive insult to God.
Act - If you are ever bored, look for a way to get outside yourself and serve others.
Pray - Lord, open my heart when I go to Mass this week. Help me to discover your recipe for happiness and peace in the Mass.

#18    Tuesday Nights    

“There is something about the intimacy of daily Mass that creates a different experience than Sunday Mass. It is the same Mass, but you hear things in different ways; you witness things in a different way. The quiet and peace of the daily Mass experience is a great opportunity to discover the genius of Catholicism.”

“The prayers of the Mass are both ancient and fresh. They speak of yesterday while applying to your life and mine today. I fell in love with the Mass during weekday Masses, because it was there in those intimate experiences that I really started to understand it.”

One of the central experiences of our faith is the experience of Mass. I fell in love with the Mass on Tuesday nights. There was a Mass every Tuesday night in our parish, and my spiritual mentor really challenged me to go to Mass one weekday each week. I am not a morning person so I went Tuesday nights at 7:30. Attendance was small maybe a dozen people.
It was a very intimate experience, and in that intimacy I experienced the Mass differently. I started to listen differently. I listened differently to the prayers. I listened differently to the homily, which was always just this one-minute homily — just one thing to think about. It was beautiful. It was powerful.
I have a challenge I like to give to people. I like to challenge people with this because I think it changes their lives. I think it transforms their faith experience. I want to present that challenge for you today, but it is a challenge that is not necessarily for today. If you want to lift it up for today that is fantastic, but it does not have to be for today. The challenge is this: Go to Mass every day for a week, and reflect on how you are different. Just reflect on how that affects you. Just reflect on how you see the Mass differently, experience God differently through the Mass during that week, because there will be differences. You will find that the Mass nurtures you in new and different ways.
It is a great challenge. Will it be easy? No, it absolutely will not be. Convenient? Absolutely not. If you want convenience, you should stop trying to be a Christian right now. There is absolutely nothing convenient about Christianity. Christianity is inconvenient because Christianity is LOVE. LOVE is not about self . . . it is not about us . . . it is not about what we want . . . LOVE is about getting outside of ourselves . . . laying down our lives for other people . . . and that’s difficult and inconvenient. That is LOVE, and that is Christianity. However, I promise you, if you make the effort to go to Mass every day for a week, your life will be different in wonderful ways.
Focus - Once you understand that God has an incredible dream for you, once you grasp that God wants you to become the-best-version-of-yourself and help others to do the same, and once you start to listen to the prayers of the Mass with all this in mind, you very quickly discover that there is genius in Catholicism.

Act - Go to Mass twice this week, Sunday and any other day you like. Pay attention to how it focuses you and fills you with peace.


Pray - Jesus, thank you for inviting me to spend more time with you. Fill that time with your grace, love, patience, and peace

#17    An Unconventional Education  
Life is always teaching us lessons. It is easy to focus on the formal aspects of our education, but the informal aspects are often the most influential. Even in the small things, God is at work.”

We can learn more in an hour of silence than we can in a year from books.”

God is constantly winning you, building you, and sending you. He is constantly teaching us so many lessons in order to win us, build us, and send us. He wants to send you out today to be his ambassador and his apostle. He wants to send you out today to do some work. He wants to send you out today to answer some prayers.
Wherever you are right now, all around you people are praying to God. They are asking God for this, they are asking God for that. God wants to use you and me to answer many of those prayers. We can answer people’s prayers, not independently, not on our own, not like we are doing it instead of God, but God is doing it through us. God wants to use you to answer people’s prayers! As we become more spiritually aware, we become mindful of this. Then as we scan our community or as we scan a situation, we realize, God might be wanting to use me to answer that person’s prayer.”
I have a fabulous friend who has suffered an awful lot in her life. We used to go to different places, and I would always notice that she would always end up talking to the last person I would expect her to be talking to. This happened many times. Finally, I said, “You always seem to end up spending the whole party talking to somebody that I would never even put you in the same room with.” She said, “You know, I have suffered an awful lot in my life, you know that. And, one of the gifts that God has given me through that suffering is that I have learned to recognize when other people are suffering. People do not have to tell me they are suffering. I can see it, I can feel it, I can sense it. And one of the things I like to do is walk into a social situation, scan the environment, and work out who is suffering the most and just befriend that person for that time.”
I thought to myself, “Wow!” That is an incredible thing.” That is an astounding gift. It is a beautiful way to approach life. It is a way to answer people’s prayers.
For me, is it different? Are her gifts different from my gifts? Yes, absolutely. Are my gifts different from your gifts? No question they are different. However, we all have this ability to collaborate with God, to partner with God, and to answer other people’s prayers. That is an astounding thing! That is an incredible thing of beauty! Collaborating with God to answer prayers is very, very exciting and very, very humbling, all at the same time!
Let us joyfully, yet humbly go answer some people’s prayers!
Focus - Life is always teaching us lessons.

Act - What lesson is God trying to teach you through the experiences of your life? Reflect.

Pray - Jesus, your grace is at work in my life. Increase my awareness of how you are working in my life and what you are calling me to do in each moment.


#16    No Visitors    

“Interestingly, solitude is the cure for loneliness. When we are afraid of being alone, we should go into it. Dive deep into it. Solitude teaches profound lessons, especially about ourselves. Feeling lonely has value. Sometimes we need to turn inward to discover what we need to hold on to and what we need to let go of.”

“One of life’s most essential lessons is learning to be alone.”

Two great lessons of life are to get inside of oneself and to get outside of oneself.
To get inside of oneself is to step back from things on a regular basis, have some solitude, re-energize, and get new perspective. In the Gospels, Jesus went away to a lonely place, or Jesus went away to a quiet place, or Jesus left everyone behind to be alone or to be apart. We need that. You need that. I need that. Whether we are extrovert or introvert, we all need that.
Solitude is also very, very important to helping us develop personal clarity - working out who we are, what we are here for, what matters most, and what matters least. When we have time in solitude, we learn to hear our own voice very clearly, we learn to hear the voice of conscience very clearly, and we learn to hear the voice of God very clearly. To develop that kind of clarity, you need solitude and silence. Create some solitude for yourself. Go somewhere quiet, go for a long walk in a quiet place, or just go somewhere solitary to sit to see how it affects you. See what it says to you; see how it makes you feel.
The other important lesson is to get outside of oneself. The only way to get outside of oneself is to serve other people. Unhappiness in life flows from being too focused on oneself. When unhappiness comes get outside of yourself. Do something for somebody else as quickly as possible to dump self-focus. As we become caught up in ourselves, the fastest way out is to serve others—get outside of ourselves, focus on someone else, serve somebody else, in whatever way is available, however simply and quickly you can do that. Moreover, we need this on a regular basis because if we are not getting outside of ourselves to serve others regularly, we tend to be trapped in the unhappiness of self-focus.
So Two Lessons:

1) Get inside yourself. Work out who you are by spending some time in solitude. Get clear about the most important voices in your life.
2) Get outside of yourself. Find ways to serve other people. Few things will bring you more joy in this life than serving other people in powerful ways and in simple ways.

Focus - We keep resisting God even after we are convinced that his way is the best way.

Act - Visit the lonely. Somewhere not too far away from where you live, someone is saying a prayer. She/he is asking God to send someone to visit her/him and lift her/him up out of the depths of loneliness. God wants you to help her/him answer that prayer.

Pray - God, help me to dive deep into solitude, especially when I do not want to. Help me to learn more about myself and about you, and inspire me to reach outside of myself to those around me.

#15    Falling in Love with Learning   

“The day you fall in love with learning, your life changes forever. Become a continuous learner, especially in the area of your faith. God wants to transform your mind, and in doing so, he will turn you into an amazingly interesting person, so he can send you out into the world and lead more people to understand the genius of his ways.”

“Fill your mind with thoughts of God. Spend your days thinking about things that are good and true and beautiful and noble, and you will become good and true and beautiful and noble.”

Being a continuous learner brings a massive advantage in life. Being a continuous learner makes life more interesting. Being a continuous learner is completely wrapped up in becoming the-best-version-of-ourselves. When we are constantly trying to become a-better-version-of-ourselves, we need more input. We need new input all the time. We need new insights, we need new awareness, we need new ideas that spark different behavior, different desires.
As Christians, we are called to be ultimate people of possibility. We are called to be people who believe that things are possible, people who are filled with a fabulous hope. Moreover, to maintain it, you really do have to be a continuous learner. Especially to grow spiritually, we have to be continuous learners. People who are satisfied with what they already know, people who are entrenched in their own opinions, tend not to be continuous learners and tend not to be growing spiritually.
Do you love learning? If you do not love learning, I want you to think about when you stopped loving learning. I want you to go back. I want you to trace it back. I want you to think about that situation. I want you to face that situation, however difficult, however uncomfortable, and however painful. I want you to make peace with that situation, and then decide not to let that situation rob you of your future . . . and start to learn again, start to be a lover of learning.
Learning is a beautiful thing. It is something that breeds excellence and helps us become the-best-version-of-ourselves. Moreover, when we fall in love with learning, we fall in love with life in a completely new way.

Focus - Wherever you find excellence, you find continuous learning. They go hand in hand. Wherever you find that continuous learning is missing, you find mediocrity.

Act - Do something today to stoke your love of learning.

Pray - Lord, inspire me to fall in love with learning. Help me to fill my days with you, and with things that are good, beautiful, noble, and true.

#14   Interesting People     

“The Bible is full of interesting people. Some of them walked with God and some of them walked away from God, and most of them did a little bit of both. It is fascinating to watch the people in the Bible making decisions. So many decisions are based on fear and so few are based on faith. Do you make your decisions based on fear or faith?”

Develop a habit over time of reading just a chapter of the Bible a day, looking at some particular point or lesson in that chapter, and reflecting on that chapter. “Every Sunday we hear a reading from one of the Gospels. However, in some ways, that is like seeing highlights from a movie each week and never seeing the whole movie. Reading one of the Gospels from start to finish is very powerful.”
Reading the Bible regularly, with reflection on the Word of God in a meaningful way, develops better decisions. When you think about how important decisions are to the foundation of life, how our decisions affect who we are and where we are today, and how our decisions will affect who we are and where we are a year from now, ten years from now, and beyond . . . making good choices and decisions produces great building blocks for great lives. Therefore, we should be constantly honing our ability to become phenomenal decision makers.
God wants us to be phenomenal decision makers. GOD gave the Bible for us to realize and reflect on “Wow! Some people make great decisions.” And, “Wow! Some people make phenomenally stupid decisions.” And, “Wow! Some people made some great decisions and some phenomenally stupid decisions, even though it was the same person.” The Bible is full of interesting people. Some of them walked with God and some of them walked away from God, and most of them did a little bit of both. Watch the people in the Bible making decisions. So many decisions were based on fear and so few were based on faith. Do you make your decisions based on fear or faith? Explore the Bible with Who made great decisions?; Who made poor decisions?; When was the same person making their best decisions?; When was the same person making their worst decisions?: and What was different in their lives at those different times?
Are you a good decision maker? Do you feel like you are a really good decision maker? Do you feel like your “Yes” is a strong, passionate, purposeful yes? Further, do you feel like your “No” is a firm no? On the other hand, do you feel like you say yes to some things for the wrong reason sometimes? The point is, we say yes to a lot of things for the wrong reasons, and we say no to a lot of things for the wrong reasons, so God wants to rectify that. He wants you to become a phenomenal decision maker.
So here, the practical takeaway that you can start living right now, today: Read one chapter of the Bible each day. For how long? For the rest of your life. On days when you are struggling to do it, force yourself to do it. Break through resistance. Then offer it up for others, so that they might do it that day, because they are probably struggling to do it as well.

 Focus - People who regularly read the Bible make better decisions.

Act - Set aside a few minutes each day to read and reflect on a passage from the Bible. Begin with Matthew, Proverbs, or Psalms.

Pray - God, I know the Bible can give me incredible insight. Guide me as I read your word.



#13   Hour by Hour    

“As Christians we are called to transform every activity in our lives into a prayer. This is how we become the-best-version-of-ourselves and live holy lives.”

“Christianity is incredibly practical. It is a beautifully human invitation to experience the divine. For a Christian, everything is a prayer.”

What is an ordinary activity that you can transform into a prayer?

Everything we do as Christians can be transformed into prayer. St. Paul said, “Pray constantly.” We obviously cannot go into church all day and just pray all the time. Even if we could go into church all day and pray all the time, we would have to go home and sleep at some point. So what did Paul mean when he said, “Pray constantly”? What did he have in mind? Everything we do can be transformed into prayer - even sleeping. Every hour of every day can be offered to God for a different reason.
Set an alarm that beeps every hour, so every hour you take just 10 seconds to say, “Almighty, Merciful, Loving God, I am offering the next hour of my life and of my work to you as a prayer for my friend Joe who is struggling with cancer.” Or, “I am going to offer it as a prayer for this couple who is struggling in their marriage at the moment.” Or, “I am going to offer it for one of my children.” Or, “I am going to offer it for my parents.” Or, any intention you want. However, every day, every hour, as that alarm goes off, you just take 10 seconds to say, “Almighty, Merciful, Loving God, I offer the next hour of my work, or the next hour of my life, as a prayer for this intention. It is only 10 seconds out of every hour, but it changes the way we work and the way we live. If you really think about offering an hour to God as a prayer for an intention that is important to you, you approach that hour differently. You just approach that hour with a completely different awareness.
It is a problem that we are just not that conscious as we go through the days, and the weeks, and the months of our lives. Many of the various aspects of our Christian spirituality are purposely designed to wake us up, because sometimes we really can be sleepwalking through life.
Therefore, if it is time to do the dishes and you hate doing the dishes, do the dishes and offer it as a prayer for some particular intention. Thus, do the best possible job, while paying attention to the details of the work, and performing with joy. Even if you hate doing it, you do it with joy. Then you offer your joy and your effort as a prayer. Thus, every moment of every day can be transformed into prayer.
Therefore, as we grow in awareness, it changes the way we live. Consequently, it also changes the way we love. Imagine being loved by someone who is that aware.

Focus - Every activity can be transformed into prayer. What is an ordinary activity that you can transform into a prayer? [Almighty, Merciful, Loving GOD, I offer (task, or this hour, or this . . .) for the intention of . . . !]
Act - Offer each hour or activity of your day to God as a prayer for a specific intention. Set an alarm to go off each hour. Take a deep breath and lift the coming hour up to God. Ten seconds at the beginning of each hour will change your life.

Pray - Lord, help me to transform my life into prayer. Inspire me to bring meaning into everything I do so that my presence in the world may elevate and transform ordinary, everyday things.



#12  Living Soulfully   

“Each and every day, God invites us to change and to grow. When we say yes to that invitation, we find a happiness that is far beyond anything this world has to offer. That is when we become most fully alive.

“Every moment of every day, every situation, every person we encounter is an opportunity to become a-better-version-of-ourselves.”

“What does it mean to live soulfully?” When I think of living soulfully, I think of something unique and handmade, not mass-produced. It is when we are most alive! When we stop living soulfully, we start living in a mass-produced way. Moreover, when we do that, we lose ourselves.

God has this incredible dream. He wants you become the-best-version-of-yourself. Every parent has this dream for his/her children. They want them to reach all their potential, to become all they can be, to become the-best-version-of-themselves.

Of course, every day I make decisions that do not help me become the-best-version-of-myself. That is the struggle we have with our humanity, right? You have your things with which you are struggling, while I have my things with which I am struggling. Guess what? Every single day, I do things that I know, when I am doing them, will not help me become the-best-version-of-myself. How about you?

When people want to change something in their lives, the will focus and focus and focus on the behavior they want to stop doing. That tends never to work. Bad habits need to be crowded out of our lives with good habits. Therefore, if there is something you want to stop doing, you have to crowd it out with other good things that do actually help you become the-best-version-of-yourself.

Today we should ponder: “Is that important to me? Do I want to become a-better-version-of-myself today? Do I want to be able to look back next to ask, ‘I’m a-better-version-of-myself today than I was a year ago’?”

Jesus said in John’s Gospel, “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the fullest” (John 10:10). Do you have that kind of life? Do you feel like you are having life to the fullest? Do you feel like you are experiencing life to the fullest? Do you feel like you are becoming the-best-version-of-yourself, living life to the fullest? Because, that is what God wants for you!

Deep, deep, deep down, none of us desires to live a generic, manufactured life. Deep down, all of us, every single one of us, desire to live soulfully, in a way that is beautifully handmade, unique, and just us. Moreover, God wants you to live soulfully like that as well.

Focus - Some things you do help you become the person God created you to be, and some things do not.

Act - In each moment of each day, choose the-very-best-version-of-yourself. Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to do going to help me become the-best-version-of-myself?

Pray - Jesus, I want to live soulfully. Help me approach each day with energy and enthusiasm so I can become a-better-version-of-myself!

#11   Ordinary Things   

“One of the greatest mistakes in history is looking only for God in the extraordinary. God occasionally uses the extraordinary to get our attention, but since the beginning, his favorite place has been amid the very ordinary things of life.”

“God wants you to be fully aware of every breath of air you take, every bite of food, every smile from a baby, every word you read, every song you hear, every kiss on the lips. God loves ordinary things.”

As disciples of Jesus, we all should be growing to be more committed, coachable, and aware. To be committed and coachable, one must be aware first. It is one of the incredible gifts that God wants to give us and increase in us gradually as we grow spiritually. Most of us have awareness in hindsight. Most of us can look at something that happened last Christmas and say, “Ah, I get it now. When he said that to her and she said that to him, what was really going on was this.” That is awareness in hindsight. What God wants to give us—it is an extraordinary gift really—is the gift of present moment awareness. He wants us to be aware of things while they are actually happening. So right now, you are experiencing this message. Are you here? Are you thinking about what you have to do today? Are you thinking about something that has already happened today? He wants to give us incredible present moment awareness. He wants us to be aware of things that are happening while they are actually happening. Three weeks from now, he does not want you to look back on some experience of your granddaughter coming up and giving you a kiss . . . he wants you to be completely absorbed in that moment. He wants you to be aware of it while it is actually happening. When you walk up to receive Jesus in the Eucharist at church this Sunday, he wants you to be completely aware of what is happening in that moment, while it is actually happening. He wants you to have life in every breath. He wants you to taste every mouthful of food. And, he wants you to taste every drop of water. He wants you to have this astounding awareness.

Multitasking presents a great enemy of awareness. Addicted as we are to multitasking, it does not promote 100% attention to other human beings. Human relationships weaken when less than full attention is attempted. Even in work processes, the awareness is sacrificed by the less than 100% attention provided by multi-tasking.

So if you want to grow in awareness, two things:
1.) When you are with people, give them 100% of your attention.
2.) Whatever you are doing, give it 100% of your attention, get it done, and then move on to the next thing.

Focus - God wants to give you present-moment awareness. He wants you to be aware of things while they are actually happening.

Act - Learn to find God in the ordinary activities of daily life. At the end of the day, write down three times when you were fully aware of God in your day.

Pray  - God, help me to find you in the ordinary; help me to immerse myself in the present moment so I can be with you.

#10  Get Busy Living  

“God wants to fill you with a peace that cannot be shaken; A peace that is untouchable!”

It is good and healthy to think about death from time to time. It puts things in perspective and reminds us what really matters. The perspective that death is inevitable reminds us to get busy living.”

“The reality of death rearranges our priorities.”

Life really is short, we do all end up dying, and we’re only passing through this place. We are pilgrims. This is not home. We’re just passing through here. It is easy to forget that. It’s easy to get caught up in life and forget that this, all of this, is temporary, and we’re just passing through here. Some people might say, “Well that’s a bit dark,” or, “That’s a bit grim,” or, “That’s a bit depressing,” or whatever. But I don’t feel that way at all. I think that it is actually very, very healthy for us to spend some time thinking about death from time to time.
As we make this journey toward Easter, and especially when we go into Holy Week, we will spend some time thinking about death. The Church, in her wisdom, will challenge us to think about death. And there’s another instance of the genius of Catholicism, because when we think about death, we actually live differently.
When we come to church, God tries to rearrange our priorities. When you read the Gospels, when you read the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, it is impossible not to either accept the Gospel, or reject the Gospel. And in accepting the Gospel, what happens? The Gospel wants to massively overhaul our priorities.
When you fall in love, love rearranges our priorities. That is what loves does. And when you think about death, death rearranges our priorities. If you knew you had three years to live, what would you change on your schedule this year? If you knew you had three years to live, what would you change on your schedule this week? It changes things, doesn’t it? And so from time to time, it’s just really healthy for us to think about death.
Focus - It is healthy to reflect on the fact that life is short and we are all going to die.
Act - If you died today, what would you wish you had done differently? Reflect.

Pray - God, I can lose perspective from time to time. Help me focus on the things that really matter so I can get busy living!


#9 Are You Spiritually Healthy? 

“We all have an inner life. This consists of our thoughts and feelings, our hopes and dreams, our character and our relationship with God. We all have an outer life, which consists of the things we do, places we go, and things we build or own. We tend to focus on the outer life, but it is only a tiny fraction of our life. Much more takes place as part of the inner life. The outer life is an overflow of the inner life.”             

“Always take your first opportunity each day to pray!”

We almost never talk about: “Am I spiritually healthy?”  We talk a lot about the health of the body, which at some point is just going to be buried in the ground, and that will be that. However, the soul lives on forever, and we almost never talk about soul health. We almost never talk about spiritual health.

Do you know when you are spiritually healthy? Can you tell that some days you are spiritually healthier than other days? God wants to give us that kind of awareness. We can tell that some days we are physically healthier than other days. God wants us to have that same sort of perspective on our soul, on our spiritual health.

One reason for the obsession with the physical over the spiritual is the immediate impact of neglect to our physicality. If you do not eat, you die in a few days; you do not breathe, you die quickly. Thus, we are obsessed with the physical because of very dire consequences to ignoring the physical realities of the human person.
However, we do have spiritual realities as well, and they play out in different ways. When we do become spiritually unhealthy, it distorts our personality in ways that resist us from doing what God has called us to do, being the person God created us to be, and from relating with other people in healthy ways.

We all have questions that are on our minds; questions that are in our hearts. Greatest of all, life comes down to four questions: (1) “Who am I?”, (2) “Why am I here?”, (3) “What matters most?”, and (4) “What matters least?”. If you examine yesterday, did you spend your time on the things that matter most, or did you get distracted by little things that were not significant? Insignificance dominates constantly. But, not just a day, you could go a whole week then look back to think, “Wow, I did not really do anything important this week. I did not really spend any time on the things that matter most this week.” Worse than that, it could be a month, or it could be a year!

The answers to these questions take a long time to develop. Happily, one of the way we develop them is through this daily habit of prayer. We are resistant to establishing this daily habit of prayer, but by establishing a daily habit of prayer, a few minutes each day, 10 minutes a day, we find real, restorative, strength, and life-satisfying answers! By establishing this daily habit of prayer, God will, very powerfully, answer those four questions.

Focus - God wants to bless you with spiritual vitality.

Act - Establish a daily habit of prayer. Start with The Prayer Process.

Pray - The Prayer Process:
  • The Sign of the Cross - Glory Be
  • Gratitude: Begin by thanking God in a personal dialogue for whatever you are most grateful for today.
  • Awareness: Revisit the times in the past 24 hours when you were and were not the-best-version-of-yourself. Talk to God about these situations and what you learned from them.
  • Significant Moments: Identify something you experienced in the last 24 hours and explore what God might be trying to say through that event (or person).
  • Peace: Ask God to forgive you for any wrong you have committed (against yourself, another person, or him) and to fill you with a deep and abiding peace.
  • Freedom: Speak with God about how he is inviting you to change your life, so that you can experience the freedom to be the-best-version-of-yourself.
  • Others: Lift up to God anyone you feel called to pray for today, asking God to bless and guide them.
  •  Pray the Our FatherSign of the Cross


#8  Four Words 

Thy Will Be Done!

Four words embody the Christian challenge: Thy will be done! The idea that we can find happiness outside of God’s will is one of the most absurd ideas in history, and yet we each employ this concept in some way great or small every day of our lives.”

“God wants to fill you with a peace that cannot be shaken; a peace that is untouchable.”

Our culture today appalls me for the things it blames on God! People say, “I don’t go to church anymore because my brother died.” Alternatively, “I don’t go to church anymore because I saw the situation in Haiti and I thought, “How could a God ever let that happen?” On the other hand, “I don’t go to church anymore,” or, “I don’t believe in God anymore because of this, or that, or the other thing.” The god that these people believe in, or do not believe in, is vastly different from the God that I have experienced and that I believe in.

It is really, really important at times to step back and look at our image of God. How do we see God? What is God really like? What are the qualities of God that loom largest in your heart, in your mind, in your life? Because the way we see God has an enormous influence on our spirituality. It has an enormous influence on the way we relate with other people. In addition, it has an enormous influence on our lives. (I see God as my co-artist and master architect of my life’s puzzle. He and I put the pieces together in spite of my stubborn free will to jam pieces that do not belong together or move pieces to places they should not be. When I trust, I begin to see a scene built of pieces that is beauty beyond beauty. However, the ever-changing scenario can be a frightening abysm of chaos and ugliness when my stubborn will pushes away from the master design. Moreover, He builds my trust with his love and mercy to do the best with my puzzle, as small a piece in the giant puzzle of his creation as it is. My piece in correct or incorrect alignment in the grand scheme of Creation has consequences both good and bad for others as well as myself. All I need remember for the puzzle to unveil in its correct scenario is “Thy Will Be Done!” [THD])

How do you see God? Write down a list of God’s qualities. What are the qualities of God that affect your image of God the most? How do you see God? How do you experience God? How have you experienced God at different times in your life? How have you seen God at different times in your life? What was my image of God when I was five years old, when I was fifteen years old, at different important times in my life? How has my image of God evolved or not?” For better or for worse, sometimes we are hanging on to an image of God that we developed as a child, or as a teenager, and that image of God is misaligned with reality.

The whole idea of Christian spirituality surrounds four words: “Thy will be done!” If you think God is a tyrant, you are certainly not going to carry out his work here on earth. If you think God is a dictator, you are certainly not going to further his will by doing his will in your own place, in your own time. In order for us really to live out our Christianity, in order for us to be able to surrender to that idea of “Thy will be done,” and surrender in a really active way, not, “Oh, OK I give up,” but, “Oh, OK I get it. I’ll surrender to that, and I will proactively, with all my effort and energy and intention, go out and try and bring about this will”, we must have a really strong and positive image of God. Moreover, that strong and positive image of God is constantly challenged by many voices and influences in this world.

Focus - These four words embody the Christian challenge: “Thy will be done!”

Act - Take a few minutes to reflect on your image of God. Write down the qualities that make up the way you see God. Try to trace each quality back to its roots in your life.

Pray - Heavenly Father, I want to find peace that cannot be shaken. You have shown me the path. Help me to live it. Help me to surrender to these four words: “Thy will be done!”


#7The Big Question 

“God, what should I do?

“Nothing really changes until we give daily prayer a place in our lives. How can such a small thing make such a huge difference? The inner life—our relationship with God and spirituality—is the leaven that allows every other facet of our lives to rise. Without this inner life, our lives are flat.”

“The moment we open ourselves up to God’s plans is the moment miracles begin to happen in our lives.”

The big question: “God what should I do?” is a question not asked nearly enough. Instead, we often we ask the wrong people for advice. When we are struggling with something in our lives, or when we really have a decision to make, we go to people who know almost nothing about nothing and we ask them what they think we should do, rather than going to the one who has the answer to every question and saying, “God, what should I do?”

If everything we do had to boil down to one thing . . . It should be a daily habit of prayer. It is the whole ball game! If you really want to grow spiritually, if you really want to have a better life, if you really want to have a better marriage, if you really want to be a better parent, if you really want to improve whatever it is that is important in your life . . . if you really want life to change, grow, and be transformed . . . then develop a daily habit of prayer.

However, we resist it. We find excuse, after excuse, after excuse, after excuse. We find so many excuses about why we cannot pray daily, why we cannot pray at the same time or in the same place every day.
People should stop by their church—spend a few minutes. God’s call becomes very, very powerful when spending a few minutes in a quiet, empty church. However, people say, “Oh, I’m really busy and I can’t do that.” “What about once a week, could you do once a week?” “Well I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of things going on and . . .”  What if I put a thousand dollars in cash in an envelope, stuff it in the song book in the seventh row on the left-hand side of the church, and then tell you: it is yours and I will put a new thousand dollars there every Thursday if you stop by and spend ten minutes in prayer! When is the next time you think you would miss a Thursday?

Everything is a matter of priorities. We do the things that we believe are most important. The problem is sometimes we are confused about what is most important.

Daily prayer stands the most important so create a habit! It will change your life. Happily, it will increase your ability to fight resistance. Beware! You will experience more resistance around trying to create a daily habit of prayer than anything else. Resistance will do everything within its power to stop you from establishing a daily habit of prayer because resistance knows that if you create this daily habit of prayer, resistance is in big trouble.

Focus - Prayer changes everything, and nothing ever changes until we give daily prayer a place in our lives.

Act - Ask God for his advice. Take 10 minutes sometime today to sit with him in silence. Present to him the biggest question you are struggling with at this time in your life and ask, “God, what should I do?”

Pray “God, what should I do?”


#6  Something is Missing   
  
 “Do you ever have the sense that something is missing in your life? We all do from time to time. Most people push it aside quickly, because we are afraid of where it might lead. But we really should pay a little more attention to our dissatisfaction.”
Do you ever get the feeling that something is missing in your life? That feeling is good because it is an expression of dissatisfaction. Since to be dissatisfied is a bad thing, we are taught to not talk about our dissatisfaction. That really prevents us sometimes from really looking at our dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is the powerful voice that God uses to speak at different times in our lives. What is missing in your life?
When you think about your life—when you think about what is working well, what is not working well, what do you like in your life, or what do not you like in your life—what are you dissatisfied with? What do you feel like is missing in your life at this time? Or, what are you dissatisfied with, and what is God saying to you through that?
Since God speaks to us every day of our lives in a thousand different ways, part of our spiritual journey is about recognizing the different ways. St. Ignatius was an incredible champion of awareness. In his spiritual exercises, he talks about how God speaks to us even through our emotions. When you get happy, God is saying to you something through that happiness. Moreover, if you get mad—you want to throw something, or kick something—God is saying something to you through that as well. God speaks to us through the Scriptures. God speaks to us through the life of the Church. God speaks to us through other people, some of them wise and some of them not. God sends unlikely messages at unlikely times through unlikely messengers. Moreover, God is constantly speaking to us, and he speaks to us through our dissatisfaction.
So, at those times in your life when you feel like something is missing, do not ignore that. Do not push that aside. Do not skip over that. Do not pretend that is not there. God is speaking into you. God is speaking into your life.
Therefore, what do you feel is missing today? What are you dissatisfied with in your life today? So, what do you think God is saying to you through that dissatisfaction?
Has restlessness ever pushed you to become a-better-version-of-yourself? Pray, discern, and do something about it!
Focus - It is time to start listening to what God is saying to you through your dissatisfaction.
Act - Do not pretend to be happy and satisfied when you are not.
Pray - Jesus, I am restless. I know something is missing in my life. Help me to hear what you are trying to tell me. Send The Holy Spirit to guide me in your plan and will!

#5  Life is Messy 

“Life is very clear and with logical ideas in the solitude of my praying place, but real people in real places have to live and follow GOD in real ways in the midst of what is very often a very, very messy world!”
“Everyone you will ever meet is fighting a hard battle. Most people can hide it pretty well. They get on with whatever the day requires of them so that they can support their families and raise their kids, or keep their schools, churches, businesses, or hospitals running. Nevertheless, it does not change the fact that each of us, in our own way, is grappling with something. What hard battle are you fighting?”
Life is messy, but nobody can take your hope from you. Moreover, if there is one thing that resistance hates, it is hope. So hold onto your hope no matter how messy life gets, and share it with everyone who crosses your path.”
Whether it is your burden or their burden or even my burden nothing else in the world changes. Cry or die, everyone is just going around with their business, going about doing their thing. Nobody knows what you are struggling with, and nobody knows what I am struggling with. We are all struggling with something. In addition, I think it is important that we realize that everyone is carrying a heavy burden. It is important that we realize everyone is struggling with something. It is important that we realize that everyone is fighting a hard battle. Because when we do realize that, we treat people differently and we respond with God differently. So be gentle with yourself, because you have your own struggle. Moreover, be gentle with other people, because everybody is fighting a hard battle. Because life is messy.
“Life is messy, but nobody can take your hope from you. And if there is one thing that resistance hates, it is hope. So hold onto your hope no matter how messy life gets, and share it with everyone who crosses your path. They will see the face of Jesus in you and take heart!”
Focus - Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle and carrying a heavy load.
Act - Be gentle with the people who cross your path. If someone is grumpy or rude, if someone makes a mistake or does something wrong, give them the benefit of the doubt. You never know what they are carrying around inside.
Pray - Jesus, thank you for giving me a hope nobody can take from me. Give me the courage to confront my own mess and share that hope with others.

#4 Resisting God   
“When we resist God, we resist happiness!”
“God wants you to be happy even more than you want it yourself.”
“Have you ever wanted something for somebody more than they wanted it for themselves?”
Have you ever wanted something for somebody more than they wanted it for themselves? It is the classic dilemma of a parent. It is the classic dilemma of any type of coach or mentor. It is certainly the classic dilemma of any type of leader. Because when we see the great possibilities in other people, we fall into this idea of wanting something for somebody else more than they want it for themselves. Thus, we can cross a line where we get too involved, where we start to do things for them rather than empowering them to do those things for themselves.
This emotion we feel, this dilemma we experience, is Godlike. It is what God experiences every day with you and me. He sees what is possible, and then he sees who we are and the lives we are living. Most of the time, he wants it more for you and me than we want it for ourselves.
That is the great parental frustration, and it is one of God’s great frustrations. It is that he wants things for us more than we want them for ourselves. He wants you to become the-best-version-of-yourself more than you even want it for yourself. He wants Heaven for you more than you even want Heaven for yourself. However, he never crosses that line. That is your version of free will and God’s infinite LOVE and patience to accept your will!
A thousand lessons abound in all of this for us, but let us focus on this: Ask God to give us the desire for goodness, the desire for being the-best-version-of-ourselves, the desire for Heaven, the desire for everything that is good, right, noble, and just; then, to fill us with that desire to help us to desire it as much as he desires it for us; finally, to help us see the possibilities the way he sees the possibilities.
Focus - When we resist God we resist happiness.
Act - Learn to recognize when you want something for others more than they want it for themselves.
Pray - Jesus, I cannot imagine the happiness you desire for me. Help me to embrace your dream for my life.

#3 Making Sense of Everything 
“The desire for God is written in the human heart because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.” CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 27
Everyone wants to be happy, so we are all chasing happiness in our own way. So often people chase more things, more money, more pleasure, more of the “right” friends, and more accomplishments, but they end up dissatisfied, wondering: “What on earth will satisfy this insatiable desire for happiness!” The answer is nothing - You have a God-sized hole!
Because we are trying to fill this God-sized hole: We feel restless. We feel that we are not content. We feel unfulfilled. We feel hungry for meaning in our lives. Therefore, many of our wants are in response. What do you spend your days thinking about? What do you spend your days desiring? God gave you the ability to want for a reason. God wants you to want. However, he wants you to want things that make you happy spiritually, that really make you happy in a deep, deep, deep way. Truly, he wants you to want things that will help you become the-best-version-of-yourself.
In our spiritual journey, we are called to recognize: “Ok, I want that thing, but why do I want that thing? What is the motive for wanting that thing? What is it in me that wants that thing? What am I trying to accomplish?”
You have a hole in you; I have a hole in me: A Pretty Big Hole! When we are little kids, we try to fill that hole with different things. “Oh, if I get that bike, then I’ll be satisfied, then I’ll be fulfilled, then I’ll be content.” We get the bike, and it does not work. Later, we are not fulfilled—we want something else. We think, “Oh, if I get those running shoes!” Nevertheless, the running shoes do not work either. As we grow into adolescence, we turn towards pleasure. “Ok, if I had this pleasure, or that pleasure, or this other pleasure, or maybe all the pleasures at one time, then I’ll be fulfilled, then I’ll be satisfied, then I’ll be content.” Of course, that does not work either. In early adulthood, we turn toward accomplishment: “If I can accomplish this thing, or that thing, or the other thing, or all of the things, or something great, something notable, then I’ll be happy, then I’ll be fulfilled, then I’ll be satisfied.” Neither does that work. As we grow older, we develop desires for social connections. “Oh, if this person is my best friend, or if that person is my best friend, then I will be fulfilled.” Of course, that does not work anymore than any worldly desire. Finally, what most people do is cycle back through the same cycles again: Things, people, money, accomplishments, just more, more, more! Always, we are trying to fill this hole within us. The problem is a God-sized hole. Only God can fill it! All that other stuff with which we are trying to fill that hole shows we have not allowed God to take a big enough role in our lives. We have not allowed God to have a big enough role in our world. God calls you to explore that.
If you feel confused, if you feel a little bit lost, if you feel just even a little disoriented in your life, chances are something other than God is at the center of your life right at this moment. Therefore, the question becomes, “How do you get God back at the center of your life?” Because when God is at the center of our lives, everything makes sense! However, we tend to say, “Ok, God I will do whatever you want, I’m a hundred percent available.” We try to put God right at the center of our lives. But then, little by little, we take everything back from God. Little by little, we just move God over a little bit. When finally we realize “I” am back at the center of life, or something else is back at the center of life, we need to say, “What is at the center of my life, and what do I need to do to put God back at the center of my life?”
Focus - It is only by placing God at the center of everything that we can make sense of life.
Act - When you are making decisions, ask yourself, “Am I putting God at the center of this decision?” Then place God at the center of the next decision by choosing not what you want or what is most advantageous to you, but what you honestly feel God wants you to do.
Pray - Jesus, I yearn for happiness because you created me for happiness. Help me to accept the happiness you offer each day by putting you at the center of my life.

#2  Quest for Happiness   
This is the Paradox that surrounds our quest for happiness: we know the things that will make us happy; but we don’t always do them. And very often the reason we give for not doing them is because we’re too busy trying to be happy.”
Every single moment is a chance to turn it all around!
How did you experience resistance in the last 24 hours? Reflect realistically: What was it? How did you handle it? How do you wish you had handled it? What will you do next time?
You are going to encounter resistance in a thousand different ways. Behind the many temptations along the way, you are going to find resistance! This concept of resistance is real. It is something we experience every day. Moreover, it is something we experience in relation to everything.
The stunning paradox that surrounds the desire that we all have for happiness: We want to be happy, but we do not do the things that make us happy, because we are too busy trying to be happy.
It relates to all aspects of our lives. So if I think of the four aspects of the human person—physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually—I know the things that make me happy. Physically: if I exercise regularly, if I sleep regularly, and if I eat the right sorts of food, I am geometrically happier than I would be if I neglected those things. Emotionally: when I give focus and priority to the most important relationships in my life, I am immensely happier. Intellectually: when I make the effort, when I have the discipline to read for at least a few minutes each day, my vision of myself expands, my vision of the world expands, my vision of God expands. I become more focused, more alert, more vibrant, and I am happier. And, Spiritually: silence, solitude, Scripture, sacraments . . . they make me happier. I am a-better-version-of-myself when I spend quality time in these disciplines. However, I can come up with a thousand reasons every day why not to do any of those things because behind every single one of those reasons is resistance.
Either resistance wins, or you win. There is no middle ground. Therefore, you must see the challenges and you must slay resistance in the moments of the day.

Focus - Find out what really makes you happy. Be specific!
Act - Identify 3 activities that increase your happiness. Do them and reflect afterwards. Find the process, the way for you and keep doing it. Note the specific ways you overcome resistance and build on them.
Pray - Jesus, help me to stop chasing the things that destroy my happiness, and fill me with the desire to pursue the things that will bring me lasting happiness.

#1  RESISTANCE   
“Resistance is the slayer of dreams.”
Every single moment is a chance to turn it all around!
Are you happy? It may be the wrong question. Most of us think we are relatively happy, while at the same time knowing that we could be happier—maybe even a lot happier. Ordinary people and the finest philosophers have been exploring the question of happiness for thousands of years, and theories abound. Are you overwhelmed? Do you procrastinate? Do you sometimes feel like you are your own worst enemy? Are you ignoring your dreams? Have you lost the courage to be truly yourself? Do you feel that your life lacks meaning and purpose? Do you find yourself avoiding the real issues in your life and focusing on the superficial?
Breaking through resistance is essential to being the-best-version-of-ourselves and living with passion and purpose.
What is resistance? [Resistance – opposition of one thing to another – opposition bringing repressed thoughts or feelings into consciousness.] It is that sluggish feeling of not wanting to do something that you know is good for you. It is the inclination to do something that you unabashedly know is not good for you. It is the desire and tendency to delay something you should be doing right now. It is that sense that, “I don’t want to do that”, even though we know it is the thing we should do. Sometimes it is the sense that, “You know what, I’m going to do whatever I want even though I absolutely know it’s the wrong thing to do.”
Resistance stands between you and happiness.
Do you ever feel like you are your own worst enemy? Have you ever thought you could accomplish great things if only you were not so busy with so many little things? Do you struggle to make decisions with confidence? Are you tired of setting goals and not accomplishing them? Do you procrastinate? Are you afraid to say what you really think and feel?
That is resistance too, and resistance is a big part of the reason why we often feel like we are our own worst enemy. Resistance is a big part of the reason why we often feel like happiness is just outside of our reach.
Open up the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the first point in the first chapter, point 27 (see also 1723, 1725, and 1818), God created man for happiness. Man’s greatest desire is for happiness because God created us for happiness. You must remember that what happened on Good Friday was designed to restore the possibility of happiness for you and me. Not only in this life, but also in the next life. Not just for you and me, but also for every man, woman, and child in every place and every time. Resistance absolutely gets in the way of that happiness. It gets in the way of us accomplishing our dreams. It gets in the way of us doing what we know is good for us. It gets in the way of us being the-best-version-of-ourselves. It gets in the way of almost everything that is worthwhile.
Focus - Resistance stands between you and happiness.
Act -  Did you encounter resistance this week?  What did you do? What do you wish you had done? What will you do next or next time?
Pray - God, I invite you into my daily battle with resistance this Lent. Give me the courage to name, define, recognize, and overcome resistance in my life.