Parish Newsletter

A Service of the Parish Evaluation Project

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

June, 2013

Signs of a Dynamic Christian Matthew Kelly has a recent book entitled The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic (Beacon Publishing, 2012).  I prefer Christian instead of Catholic because these signs apply to all followers of Jesus.  The first of the four signs is a daily commitment to prayer.  Matthew Kelly describes it as, “God is not a distant force . . . but rather a personal friend and adviser.” (p. 18).  The key is making this conversation with God a daily occurrence.  It is part of the person’s everyday routine, a priority not to be missed.  The content and method will change along with life experiences, but the daily practice remains a given.  Typically, a person with a habit of prayer has a favorite place to go each day and a preferred time that becomes sacred.  Even with the disruptions of life, this tradition endures.  Most people pray in one form or another, but often spontaneously when there is a need, a crisis or moment of joy.  Dynamic Christians do this as well, but it flows out of their daily contact with their God. Ongoing Discovery The second sign of a dynamic Christian is continuous growth in the faith, a constant desire to learn.  Whenever there is an adult formation offering in the parish, a chance to participate in a bible study group or book club, these are the people who can be counted on to attend.  They are hungry to learn more about anything connected with their faith.  Ignatius of Loyola, while recovering from a wound he received in a small skirmish, had a choice between reading romantic novels or the lives of the saints.  He chose both, but the aftertaste from the former left him flat, while the latter kept his interest long after putting down the book.  This inspired him to change his life and continue learning about what it meant to be a Christian, which he continued throughout his life.  Every dynamic Christian does the same.  They read, they listen, they interact, they attend classes, they go online, they take notes, they gain new insights, they develop their awareness and understanding about what it means to be a Christian, a faithful follower of Jesus. Being Generous The third sign of a dynamic Christian is that they are generous in giving to others. As Matthew Kelly writes, “Generosity is woven into their lives” (p. 22). They give freely from the abundant gifts they have received from God. No matter how busy, they make time for those needing companionship, encouragement or a helping hand. They are generous with their expertise and abilities, offering to mend what’s broken, work out a solution, plan an event. Proof of their generosity is in the level of contributions they make to their church, organizations and other worthy causes. They may not want to be known as generous givers but it is a trusted hallmark of what it means to be a dynamic follower of Christ. They feel so grateful to God for what they have received, they have no choice but to share this abundance with others.   Spreading the Good News The fourth sign of a dynamic Christian is to let others in on what they have discovered to be so life giving for themselves. St. Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises as a way of letting others in on his spiritual journey. Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples that the “Lord has risen!” In one form or another, every dynamic Christian does the same. Because they have experienced a growing relationship with God through daily prayer and ongoing learning, and have found joy in giving to others what they have received from God, they want to share this with others, more often in action than in words. Pope Francis has been a master at this with his simple gestures that make worldwide news – where he is living, what he wears, whom he greets, where he goes. All dynamic Christians have this way of communicating profound truths with simple gestures. It is a way of life for them.