Tag Archives: Matthew Kelly

Are you a pilgrim or a tourist?

My friend Fr. Bob Sherry and I have been hosting pilgrimages for a long time. Our current schedule includes three trips each year: the Holy Land; Lourdes and Paris (France); and Rome, Assisi, and Florence (Italy). On the opening night, we always ask our pilgrims the same question: Are you going to be a pilgrim or a tourist?

kellyTourists want everything to go exactly as they have planned and imagined it. ƒThey rush around making sure they cram everything in. Thƒey’re constantly buying souvenirs and knickknacks, many of which they will look at when they get home and wonder, “What was I thinking?” ƒThey focus on themselves, often shoving past others to get where they’re going. Tourists go sightseeing. Tourists count the cost.

Pilgrims are very different. ƒThey look for signs. If a flight gets delayed or canceled, they ask, “What is God trying to say to me?” Pilgrims aren’t concerned with seeing and doing everything, just the things they feel called to see and do. ƒThey’re not obsessed with shopping. ƒThey are aware of others’ needs. Pilgrims look for meaning. Pilgrims count their blessings.

ƒThe reality is we are all pilgrims. ƒThis planet we call earth is not our home; we are just passing through. We build homes and establish ourselves on earth in ways that ignore that we are really just here for short time. It’s a dangerous pastime to live as if you’re never going to die, but consciously or subconsciously we all fall into this trap to one degree or another.

In this life, we’re just passing through. ƒThe happiness that God created us for is different from the fleeting happiness and momentary pleasures of this world. God created us for lasting happiness in a changing world — and eternal happiness with him in heaven. Thƒe happiness he wants for us in this life is a rare kind of happiness that isn’t dependent on situations or circumstances. It’s easy to be happy when everything is going well, but Christian joy allows us to be happy like Paul was when he was in prison.

Do you ever think about heaven? It seems to me we don’t talk about it anywhere near as much as we should. When Rudyard Kipling was very seriously ill, a nurse asked him, “Is there anything you want?” He replied, “I want God!” We all do. We may not be aware of it, but we want Him. Behind every desire for a new car or a new house, a promotion or accomplishment, clothes and jewelry, plastic surgery, adventure and travel, food and sex, acceptance and comfort, is our desire for God. We are always hungry for something more complete, and God is the completeness that we yearn for from the depths of our soul.

We are just passing through, and it’s helpful to remind ourselves of that from time to time. In the context of eternity, we’re only here for the blink of an eye. Realizing this changes our priorities. At the same time, we’re here for a reason. You are here for a reason. God has a mission for you.

Life is a pilgrimage, a sacred journey. Typically, a pilgrimage takes us to a shrine or other location important to a person’s faith or beliefs. You can make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Rome, Fatima, Lourdes, the Camino, or any of the famous Catholic sites around the world. But you could also make a pilgrimage to your nearest cathedral. In fact, every Sunday you make a pilgrimage to your local parish to Mass.

Very often people make pilgrimages with special intentions in mind. Some ask God for a favor, perhaps to heal a loved one who is sick. Others make a pilgrimage in thanksgiving for a blessing they’ve already received from God. Thƒere are always couples on our trips who are celebrating a wedding anniversary. On every trip, Fr. Bob chooses one of the holy places and invites every couple to renew their marriage vows. Powerful!

Life is a pilgrimage, but sometimes you need a pilgrimage to discover life. We’re journeying in this life toward the sacred city, toward the heart of God — heaven. Nobody makes the journey alone. We all need companions. I’ve met some of my very best friends in this world on pilgrimages. ƒThese friends encourage us and challenge us to become the “best version of ourselves.” By doing so, they help us to get to heaven.

Let’s pray for the grace to be pilgrims and not just tourists. Let’s pray for the grace to be the kind of friend who helps others in the great pilgrimage of life. We’re just passing through this place we call earth. At every turn we’re tempted to be tourists, so spend some time today thinking about heaven.

MATTHEW KELLY is the founder of Dynamic Catholic and the bestselling author of more than 20 books, published in 25 languages. His latest is Resisting Happiness.

Rediscover Jesus

kellyRediscover Jesus
Matthew Kelly
Beacon Publishing, 2015
183 pages, hardcover $25

If there’s one person we should know (and know well), it’s Jesus. But how well do you know Him? The desire might be there, but life gets in the way. Some days we make progress … and other times not so much.

Rediscover Jesus is the sequel to Rediscover Catholicism, which other than the Bible is the bestselling Catholic book in U.S. history. Kelly presents the new book as An Invitation (that’s the subtitle). He takes readers on a 40-day spiritual journey to encounter Jesus. Short reflections at the end of each chapter help integrate what readers learn into their everyday lives.

Order: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Legatus Summit: A call to action

Speakers at the annual event asked Legatus members to bring Jesus to a hurting world . . .

Legatus’ 2014 Summit was a rally cry for Catholic business leaders to activate their faith and change the culture for Christ. Both speakers and attendees voiced concern for the way America is slipping further away from the Christian ideals it was founded on.

The three-day annual conference, hosted by Legatus’ Orlando Chapter, drew nearly 500 Legates and guests from across the country to the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla., from Feb. 6-8.

Faithful citizenship

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

Speakers from former Sen. Rick Santorum to Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput called on attendees to embrace the Legatus mission statement to live, learn and spread the Catholic faith. In his Feb. 7 homily, Archbishop Chaput exhorted Legates to exercise their rights of faithful citizenship to create a culture for Christ.

“When we do that, the Church will change because the leadership of the Church will be multiplied thousands upon thousands of times,” he said. “Rather than waiting for the bishops to act, you can act on your own — in union with the bishop, of course, and encouraged by him.”

In his Saturday evening address, former presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum challenged Legates to mobilize and save America before it’s too late. He pointed out that the vast majority of Americans are conservative Christians, but the liberal secularists who make up less than 20% of the population are highly organized, passionate and relentless in changing hearts and minds.

“America is broken,” he said. “We have to take responsibility for that. It was [on] our watch. America is broken because we’re afraid to fight. We must be committed, be all in. We must know what is on the line — souls, eternal souls. We don’t live in a time in America when we can afford to stop fighting.”

Archbishops Wenski, Aquila and Chaput

Archbishops Wenski, Aquila and Chaput

Santorum called on Legatus members to repair the damaged culture by activating their faith. “This organization, the people in this organization, can have a profound effect, can move the needle,” he said. “You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to be all in. You can do it. I have no doubt.”

Legates also heard from Football Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz, Bill Donohue from the Catholic League, author Matthew Kelly, pro-life activist John Smeaton, CEO and business author William Thorndike, Canadian author and journalist Michael Coren, fitness pioneer Dr. Kenneth Cooper, and the hosts of EWTN’s The Catholic View for Women. Motivational speaker Ross Shafer served as the master of ceremonies.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gómez celebrated the opening Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Orlando Bishop John Noonan celebrated the closing Mass.

Call to evangelize

David Bereit

David Bereit

Other speakers urged attendees to bring their faith boldly into a culture that has rejected Christian values. Members of a three-bishop panel — Archbishop Thomas Wenski (Miami), Samuel Aquila (Denver) and Chaput (Philadelphia) — said that kind of evangelization can only happen when we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Curtis Martin — a member of Legatus’ Denver Chapter and founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students — told attendees that discovering Jesus and coming into right relationship with him is akin to the parable of the buried treasure (Mt 13:44).

“To have that kind of passion — because we discovered the treasure first — that unleashes a power in the world that will transform the world,” he said. “When we allow God’s grace to transform us through our wounds and brokenness, nothing is impossible.”

Picking up on that theme, 40 Days for Life founder David Bereit assured Legates that abortion will end.

“History books are going to document how it ended,” he said. “I believe they’re going to point back to 2014, the tipping point when people realized it was a spiritual battle and the revival that broke out as a result. They’re going to read about how business people brought their best practices into the fight.”

Stephen Ray

Stephen Ray

Engaging the culture

Summit co-chair Troy King of Legatus’ Orlando Chapter said he was thrilled not only by the speakers, but by Legatus members’ determination to engage the culture as a result of the conference.

“The highlights were seeing the passion for the faith in all the speakers, seeing the new-found fire for the New Evangelization, and seeing how much emphasis they’re placing on putting us all into action,” he said. “I can’t wait to get home and put these things into action.”

Baton Rouge Legate Sam LaVergne, attending his second Summit, said the event far exceeded his expectations.

“Rick Santorum brought the house down, but the speaker that most intrigued me was Stephen Ray,” he said. “He made us think that visiting the Holy Land is something we need to do.”

Bishop John Noonan

Bishop John Noonan

LaVergne said that Legatus has been a blessing to him and his wife Sally.

“The most important thing that Legatus has done for us — even thought my wife and I have been Catholics for a long time — is the amount of education we’ve gotten to defend our faith,” he explained. “Legatus has empowered us with a lot of information to help us live our faith.”

In his Feb. 7 homily, Archbishop Chaput gave Legates all the advice they need to do just that. “Be embraced by the Lord Jesus,” he said. “Put on the Lord Jesus, as St. Paul says. Make him all of your life. When we do that, we will transform the face of the earth.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine. This article contains reporting from LifeSiteNews.com.

2013 Award Winners

Defender of the Faith
Matthew Kelly, Erin Mersino

Ambassador of the Year
Larry Blanford

Officer of the Year
Scott Teepe

Courage in the Marketplace
Paul Barron, Bruce Barron, Rod & Karen Mersino

Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization
Curtis Martin

Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro-Life Award
David Bereit, Reggie Littlejohn, Rita Marker, John Smeaton

Angott Award
Baton Rouge, Cincinnati

Campbell Award
Cleveland, Mobile, Las Vegas, Twin Cities, Wichita

The dynamic evangelist

Allen Hunt’s remarkable journey from megachurch pastor to Catholic dynamo . . . .

As the pastor of a successful megachurch and the grandson, great-grandson and nephew of Methodist pastors, Allen Hunt never had reason to consider becoming Catholic.

But the seeds planted by a Dominican priest and fellow graduate student at Yale University sprouted 15 years later to lead Hunt into the Catholic Church, where he now labors in the fields of evangelization and catechesis.

New Evangelization

Allen Hunt

Allen Hunt

Hunt works as vice president of strategy at the Dynamic Catholic Institute, where he helps develop content and set long-term direction. Lately, he’s been working on a program designed to give young people who receive Confirmation more than a “check-the-box” experience, but one which infuses them with the beauty and genius of the sacrament.

In addition, Hunt designed and presented the series “Passion and Purpose for Marriage” and has played a key role in the institute’s fundraising efforts.

“His life and experiences have all led him to this place and this time — and prepared him for this work,” said Matthew Kelly, the institute’s president and CEO.

Hunt and Kelly met through business management author Patrick Lencioni in 2008, and the men soon realized they shared a passion for the New Evangelization.

“I was immediately struck by the gifts God has given him to guide and inspire people into a relationship with God,” Kelly said, adding that as he got to know Hunt better, he became convinced the former pastor belonged at Dynamic Catholic.

“When I explain to people what we’re doing at Dynamic Catholic, most people get it, but some people get it right at the core of their being because Dynamic Catholic articulates something that they have long known. Allen is one of those people.”

Hunt concurs. “It’s my whole life,” he said of his work to help Catholics and non-Catholics alike discover what the Church offers. “It’s a wonderful thing to be Catholic.”

Conversion of heart

Hunt’s conversion story began while he was working on a doctorate in New Testament and ancient Christian origins at Yale and became friends with Dominican Fr. Steven Boguslawski. The friendship opened a window into Catholicism for the Protestant pastor, especially when the priest suggested that he and Hunt give a Lenten retreat to a community of cloistered Dominican nuns.

When Hunt met the sisters, he said he was instantly struck by their radiance. “It took me a minute to realize I was in the presence of the physical manifestation of holiness.”

On the last day of the retreat during a question-and-answer session, one of the sisters queried Hunt: “You sound really Catholic, so I have to ask: Why aren’t you part of the Church?” When Hunt explained he didn’t share the Catholic belief about the Eucharist, she challenged him to recall a verse in 1 Corinthians in which Jesus is quoted as saying “this is my body” as he breaks bread and gives it to the apostles at the last supper. The nun then asked Hunt, “Allen, what don’t you understand?”

“That was the initial seed of faith that God planted in the back of my soul,” Hunt recalled. “Fifteen years of water and sun and fertilizer eventually carried the day.” However, it was not until he entered the Church and was invited back to the cloister for a series of lectures that he discovered the sisters had been praying for him all along.

“I didn’t have a chance,” he quipped.

After his studies at Yale, Hunt went on to become senior pastor of Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, Ga. — the third-largest United Methodist congregation in the country. Over time, however, he grew increasingly uncomfortable with Protestant worship’s dependence on the pastor, the sermon and the music. In addition, through reading and reflection, he became convinced of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and started going to Mass when he was on vacation. He also sought out Catholic resources for prayer and preaching preparation.

Ultimately, Hunt said, he was drawn to Catholicism by the real presence, the hierarchy, and the unity of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. This, he said, contrasted with the fragmented nature of Protestantism and his experience of being in a denomination where everything seemed to be up for a vote every four years.

“In the Roman Catholic Church,” he said, “while there is an uncomfortable tension, there is still a sense that all are part of the Church, though we may disagree. And there is one hierarchy and Mass and Eucharist that bind us together like mortar.”

Even before Hunt became Catholic, Blessed John Paul II had caught his attention. He was struck by the man’s holiness and witness. As for Pope Francis, Hunt said, “I love him. The media are trying to frame him the way they want him to be, but he has the ability to cut through all that for his own bold, unique witness. In this media age, that is unusual. I think he also has reminded us to lead with love.”

A dynamic Catholic

L-R: Allen Hunt, daughters Grin (graduating from GATech) and Sarah Ann, wife Anita

L-R: Allen Hunt, daughters Grin (graduating from GATech) and Sarah Ann, wife Anita

Hunt entered the Church at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta on Jan. 6, 2008. His wife Anita did not join him in converting, but Hunt said because she understood how he had reached his decision, she has remained supportive. Anita organizes all her husband’s events in Catholic settings and she accompanies him. They attend Mass and Legatus events together. The couple’s two daughters since have followed their father into the Church.

Tom Peterson, founder of Catholics Come Home, invited the Hunts to join Legatus’ Atlanta Chapter. Peterson says it took extreme humility and a sacrificial heart for Hunt to give up the lead pastorate of a thriving church that drew 5,000 worshipers every Sunday.

Hunt’s conversion, Peterson said, has been a gift to the New Evangelization. “Allen is blessed with a skill set, a talent and a charism to convey Christ’s word in a way that everybody can understand. He’s got the gift of preaching and the charism of teaching, but also has a zeal and passion for the faith that is contagious.”

Added Deacon Mike Bickerstaff, director of adult education at St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell, Ga.: “His energy is a huge plus, but he’s also a great storyteller. We need more people who can weave a good story while engaging in evangelization. Allen can grab your attention and keep it.”

Matthew Kelly said he has been inspired by Hunt’s gift for what he calls “relational ministry.” “He just likes people. I know it sounds strange, but it is amazing to me how many people in ministry don’t really like getting to know people and don’t enjoy just being with people. Allen lives for this. He thrives on it and sees it as the core of the way Jesus approached people.”

JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.

Sharing the faith one book at a time

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan uses popular Catholic books to spread the faith . . .

Thomas Monaghan

Thomas Monaghan

Throughout my life I have always been a ravenous reader. The topics of the books have changed over the years, but I’ve always found reading to be a tremendous means of expanding my horizons and broadening my knowledge on a variety of topics.

In recent years, most of the books I’ve read have been spiritual. This past Lent, I resolved to read a spiritual book a week, and I found it very beneficial (and not so hard if you don’t watch TV). In fact, I have found that it’s a good way to evangelize or simply share the faith. When traveling, I have ample opportunities to read. I typically carry a book in my briefcase for easy access. My books have also led to many interesting conversations. People notice what I’m reading and comment on it. I often use the book as a conversation starter.

In fact, I have gotten into many discussions on airplanes about a book I was reading and ended up just giving them the book. Often times though, I will be talking to someone about the faith or a related topic and ask if I can send them a book that I have recently read, which I think they might find helpful or answer some question they might have. It may be a fallen-away Catholic, a Muslim or someone who doesn’t understand the Church’s teaching on abortion.

I’ve found that most people are willing to share their address with me. I write it down on the back of my itinerary, and when I get back to my office, I mail them a copy of the book we were talking about. This is actually pretty easy to do, and while I obviously have no idea what percentage of people actually read the books, I have received a good number of letters thanking me for sending them a book.

We all know Legatus’ mission to study, live and share our faith. This is one relatively simple way of sharing our faith that I thought would be worth sharing. Finally, let me leave you with a list of the books that I commonly send out. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it may be helpful.

Why Catholics Are Right by Michael Coren; If Protestantism Is True by Devin Rose; The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic and Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly; Evangelical Catholicism by George Weigel; Unplanned by Abby Johnson and Did Muhammad Exist? by Robert Spencer.

THOMAS MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.

Summit on the Bayou

Religious liberty and the new evangelization took center stage at the Summit in Phoenix . . .

Raymond Arroyo

Raymond Arroyo

Despite its arid location, Legatus’ 2013 Summit had a distinct Louisiana flair — everything from Cajun food to a raucous Mardi Gras-themed evening presided over by the bead-tossing New Orleans native and master of ceremonies, Raymond Arroyo.

The three-day annual conference, hosted by Legatus’ Baton Rouge Chapter, drew more than 400 Legates and guests from across the country and beyond to the luxurious Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., from Feb. 7-9.

Religious Freedom

Speakers from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to Catholic historian George Weigel touched on the Summit’s dual themes of faith and freedom. In his Feb. 8 address, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori exhorted Legates to help the country return to its founding principles amid challenges to religious liberty. “In the spirit of the new evangelization, may I invite you to engage your network of family members, colleagues, and friends to understand more profoundly how religious freedom is threatened and to think of our political system with more than enlightened self-interest?” he asked.

Archbishop William Lori

Archbishop William Lori

The 1884 Council of Baltimore, he said, decided that there is a fundamental compatibility between the U.S. Constitution and “the Church’s understanding of the natural law.” However, Archbishop Lori noted, this view “has recently been called into question.”

The diminishing role of religion in America is leading to a different understanding of religious freedom than existed in the past, and this “is part of the challenge of the new evangelization to which Pope Benedict has called us in this Year of Faith and beyond.”

Bush, who spoke to Legates just one year after his more famous brother, talked about his conversion to the Catholic faith and how it has made all the difference in his life — both personal and political.

“But for my faith, I don’t know what the outcome [of my life] would have been,” he said. “My faith has brought me the greatest happiness of my life.”

Like many of the speakers and clergy who addressed Summit attendees, Bush said faith must inform every aspect of one’s life.

“If your faith means anything to you, it must inform your public policy,” he said. “We should encourage people in public life to stand on principle. At a time when we should be excited about the future, we have lost our optimism. I reject that completely.”

Call to Evangelize

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

In his homily at St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted told Legates that the Church — and Legatus’ mission statement — asks them to be formed in the faith and to go out to the world as missionaries and evangelists.

“Legatus means ‘ambassador,’ one sent on a mission, an apostle,” he said. “At the end of every Mass, we are sent forth on this mission.”

Along with Bishop Olmsted and Archbishop Lori, Summit-goers attended Masses celebrated by Bishop Sam Jacobs, Legatus’ international chaplain; Cleveland Auxiliary Bishop Roger Gries, chaplain of Legatus’ Cleveland Chapter; and Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

Other speakers included Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Relevant Radio’s Fr. “Rocky” Hoffman, author Matthew Kelly, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti.

Legates were also treated to a presentation of Legate Jason Jones’ new film Crescendo; a sneak peak of the History Channel’s The Bible, a mini-series produced by Hollywood super-couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey; a panel discussion on religious freedom; and Evangeline, a full-fledged stage musical.

Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli

The Summit was an uplifting and faith-building experience, Legates agreed.

Salvatore and Josephine Caruso, members of the San Jose Chapter, attended their first Summit. The experience helped the couple to be “fortified in our faith and to better understand our responsibilities in our faith,” he explained. “As lay persons, what are our responsibilities? Faith is not something you just keep to yourself personally. It’s something you use in society for the greater good.”

Joe Melançon, who chaired the Summit with his wife Paula, said he was pleased with the way Legates responded to the event’s Year of Faith theme — The Door of Faith: A Summons to a Deeper Conversion.

“My greatest hope is that they, like Paul, will have a summons to a deeper conversion,” he said.

Tom Moran, a member of Legatus’ Orlando Chapter since 2006, said the Summit was a remarkable call to action. “It was encouraging direct action and involvement not by scare tactics, but by giving sound, intellectual basis for concern,” he said.

Keith Tigue of the Phoenix Chapter not only enjoyed having a Legatus Summit in his hometown, but was encouraged by the speakers and the entire Legatus community. More importantly, he said, Legatus helps him to be a better businessman.

“As business leaders, we really have to narrow down on what [God wants] and get out of the way and let God work through us and the dream He has given us in our business.”

In particular, Tigue said, Matthew Kelly’s talk on “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” inspired him to do more. “It made me realize that I’m glad I’m doing this,” he said, “but I need to do better.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of Legatus magazine. This article contains reporting from Catholic News Agency and Ambria Hammel, staff’ writer for The Catholic Sun.


2012 Award Winners

Archbishop William Lori

James Sheehan

Tom Spencer

Ken Cuccinelli, Bill & Andy Newland, Weingartz Family, Christopher & Mary Ann Yep

Mike Caspino, John Reid

Richard Doerflinger, Chuck Donovan, Michael Schwartz

Baton Rouge, San Juan Capistrano

Western Massachusetts, Lexington, South Bay of Los Angeles, Detroit Northeast, Fort Worth