By Moira Cullings
LENEXA — “The Lord raises up individuals throughout the course of the church’s life and history and gives them different gifts,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann told more than 1,300 people gathered at Holy Trinity Church here on April 22.
“And Matthew Kelly, I think, has been given a great gift,” he said, “a gift of helping to awaken hearts, to know the Lord’s love, to rediscover Jesus.”
With that impressive introduction, the internationally acclaimed Catholic speaker, author and business consultant informed, entertained and inspired for the following four hours with a presentation called “Living Everyday with Passion and Purpose.”
He spoke the next day on the same topic at Prince of Peace Church in Olathe.
A warm welcome
Kelly was welcomed by resounding applause from the packed church, but quickly launched into a discussion about the responsibility of Catholics to live more engaged, purposeful lives.
“Our topic of conversation tonight is living every day with passion and purpose,” he said. “I believe God wants us to live our lives to the fullest.”
To accomplish this, we must be hungry for best practices and committed to continuous learning, said Kelly.
“Interestingly, sadly, tragically, these two qualities are disturbingly absent in the lives of Catholics at this moment in history,” he said.
Moreover, many Catholics, he said, are losing sight of one of the most important gifts of our faith — the Mass.
“You cannot have an increasing number of people believing the central experience of Catholicism is boring and expect Catholicism to thrive anytime soon,” he said.
Catholics need to be reinvigorated, and this can only happen when we begin making smart, meaningful choices and listening to God, he added.
“Decisions are the foundation of a life. [God] wants your ‘yes’ to be a passionate, mission-filled ‘yes.’ And he wants your ‘no’ to be a firm, resolute ‘no,’” he continued.
“The world creates chaos and confusion,” he said. “God creates clarity and order. The first step of developing that clarity is we’ve got to get into that classroom of silence.”
Rediscovering our Catholic roots
One thing that prevents us from living a joyful, purposeful life is our culture, which is filled with endless distractions, said Kelly.
“We live in a culture that says the meaning of life is to get what you want,” he said. “We live in a culture that says when you get what you want, then you’ll be happy.”
But there’s a problem with that.
“Getting what you want doesn’t make you happy,” said Kelly. “Why? You simply never can get enough of what you don’t really need.”
Rachel Baronovic, who was hearing Kelly speak for the first time that night, found his call for Catholics to fight for a better future for the church re-energizing.
“Getting inspired about anything you do is important, whether it relates to the Catholic faith or to your daily profession,” she said. “Finding that passion that drives you to do your best and become the best is important to living a productive and impactful life.”
“And when Matthew spoke about becoming the best version of yourself, it really touched home with me,” added Baronovic. “There’s always something you can become better at. There’s always something you can learn.”
Intermittent musical performances by singer Eliot Morris throughout the night also helped Baronovic soak up and reflect on Kelly’s advice.
“I loved the musical performances during the breaks,” she said. “Each song had a great message and allowed for some great reflection.”
Baronovic also enjoyed the humor in his presentation, especially in the closing, when Kelly told his listeners that God wants us to rediscover our passion for Catholicism, then serve powerfully.
First, however, we have to rediscover our own passion.
Like the flight attendants aboard our aircrafts, he said, who know what they’re talking about when they tell us that we should put our own oxygen masks on first in the event of a crash.
“God wants you to put your oxygen mask on first so you can serve powerfully,” he said.
This starts with owning our talents and abilities, regardless of how small they may seem in comparison to others.
“Our culture does a phenomenal job of distorting things,” said Kelly. “In this area of talents and abilities, the culture makes most people feel very small and unimportant.
“We must overcome the artificial notion that we aren’t good enough.”
Kelly called on those in attendance to rise to the challenges our church faces and to become more invigorated, joyful Catholics.
“As Catholics, we’ve got to start thinking beyond the rubbish that our culture is serving us,” he said.
“We’ve got to scratch below the surface, get a little bit deeper,” he added. “And when we do, we’ll discover there is genius in Catholicism.”