Author debunks the notion that holiness is only for saints

Mark Richards, upper right, a parishioner of Sacred Heart Church in Tonganoxie, shares his thoughts on one of the points raised by Matthew Kelly in his book “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity: How Modern Culture is Robbing Billions of People of Happiness.” Clockwise from Richards, are fellow parishioners Marcy Sedwick, Wilma Plake, Nancy Barnett and Paula Zishka who attended a discussion of the book led by Deacon Ron Zishka on Feb. 26 at Sacred Heart. The book was a gift from the parish to parishioners at Christmas, and Deacon Zishka offered the discussion as part of preparations for Lent. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATIE PETERSON

By Katie Peterson
Special to The Leaven

TONGANOXIE — Lent has officially begun, and many Catholics are already doing without whatever they “gave up” for the penitential season that helps prepare us for the resurrection of Christ. 

Instead of giving up something like chocolate or soda, though, this Lent, Deacon Ron Zishka of Sacred Heart Church in Tonganoxie suggests adding something — Holy Moments. 

“Instead of giving something up for Lent, you say, ‘Hey, today, I’ll do one Holy Moment,’” said Deacon Zishka. 

“‘The first week I’ll do one Holy Moment. The second week I’ll do two Holy Moments,’” he continued, “and then you kind of build it up [throughout Lent].”

Deacon Zishka’s suggestion was inspired by Matthew Kelly’s book, “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity: How Modern Culture is Robbing Billions of People of Happiness,” which was handed out at several area churches during Christmas Masses. 

In the book, Kelly talks about how taking the time to consciously perform “Holy Moments” each day, and teaching others to do the same, is the first step to leading a holy life and making a positive difference in the world. 

Deacon Zishka led a discussion of the book Feb. 26 at the church. 

“That should give us a lot of hope,” Sacred Heart parishioner Mark Richards said of the number of copies that were handed out throughout the archdiocese. “If the people got the message in here that they should’ve gotten from it throughout the rest of the diocese, that’s a hopeful sign.”

“The simplicity of the message was what really kept me going on the reading,” he added. “Holy Moments. That’s such a simple thing to do and such an easy thing to do.”

The group discussion led to several examples of Holy Moments, including smiling at a stranger, using the name of the server in the restaurant or saying a simple “please” and “thank you.”

Sacred Heart parishioner Wilma Plake said she thought of her daughter and grandson when she read the book. 

“My daughter and her son, she has always told him things every time he leaves her,” Plake said. “I would hear her saying, ‘Bye, son, have a good day. Remember to open the door for someone. Remember to smile today. Remember to thank your teacher.’ It was just something every day she tells him.” 

“She’s done that since he was tiny and he’s a senior [in high school] now and she still does it, and he’ll say, ‘I will, Mom,’” she continued. “And, you know — he’s going to do it. Those are Holy Moments.”

To keep the momentum going, Deacon Zishka will include a list of Holy Moments in the weekly parish bulletin throughout Lent. 

“Take a look and maybe it’ll jar your memory to do those Holy Moments during Lent,” he said. “Our calling in our heart from God is to come to know him and he’s going to make us happy. That is where that happiness really comes from: serving him and serving other people.”

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