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Changing the world in four easy steps

December 3, AD 2012 4 Comments

I want to change the world, and I think I can do it. But I’m a young 20-something, and the older adults I meet tend to be jaded. “I thought we could save the world by doing thus-and-such,” they say, “and look how that turned out.” So, of course, I worry that when I hit 30, I’ll just hunker down and finish my life in a sort of default Catholic family. That sounds so boring.

Matthew Kelly changed all that. Kelly is approaching 40 and is still out to change the world. His The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic is a practical step-by-step instruction book on how to do that. Kelly’s business background and can-do attitude asks practical questions and looks for practical solutions. And he finds them.

While I was reading it, friends would ask about the book. I’d say, “He points out that about 7 percent of Catholics provide about 80 percent money and volunteer time given to the church…”

Without fail, I heard: “That’s so true.”

We all know it. What the Catholic Church needs is a game-changer, Kelly says. What does that 7 percent of Catholics have and how can we make it spread?

The first answer, he found, were the four signs: prayer, study, generosity, and evangelization. So he spends four chapters giving practical, step-by-step advice on how to pray, how to get people to read more, how to change attitudes toward money (and not just ask for more of it), and how to evangelize.

This isn’t a book of theology. It’s a book of practicality. People don’t pray? Why not? “Most people when they pray sit down and see what happens, and of course very often nothing happens. So they get frustrated and stop praying.” (We’ve all been there.) So Kelly finds out how the 7 percent prays, then provides a step-by-step guide for getting into a routine of prayer.

People don’t know enough about the faith? Let’s give them free books, he says. No – let’s start a program where parishes can purchase books at very low cost and give them to their parishioners every Christmas. Why?

“Imagine if a business knew that all their previous customers were coming together on the same day in the same place. What would they do with this information? Businesses would pull out all the stops and overcome every obstacle to find ways to re-engage those customers.” So why shouldn’t we?

Kelly’s ideas often seem obvious, but they must not be because many Catholics and Catholic parishes aren’t doing them. So, Kelly says, let’s start. Find out what works and do more of it, he says.

He brings a refreshing perspective to the arena. He is not a theologian, not a priest, not a scholar, not a politician, not an inexperienced 20-something. He is a business consultant whose life was changed when he saw what he calls “the genius of Catholicism” – and he wants to change others’ lives, and, thereby, the world.

The Catholic Church is a sleeping giant, he says. All we need to do is wake up, smell the coffee, drink it, and get moving.

So let’s do it.

For more information about the book, or to read the beginning of it, visit Dynamic Catholic’s website. The book is available free here and at a bulk rate here.

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About the Author:

Mary C. Tillotson is reporter for, covering education reform issues across the country. She is co-founder and blogger at The Mirror Magazine and founder of Vocation Story. She tries to blog at The Earth and the Ether. A Michigan native, she lives in Virginia with her husband, Luke.

  • Sue

    Thanks for the article!!! I love Matthew Kelly and I love the idea that we all can change the world!! Just by giving one person Matthew Kelly’s book we can change so many lives!! My husband gave me one of his books and it changed my life, his, and the life of my seven children! I am thinking I need to get out there and give some books away!!! Thanks!

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  • Douglas Kraeger

    I have an idea that is looking for people to support it. If everyone who should support this, did so, can you imagine the people who would be reminded that they should will and work to know everything God wants everyone to know? If some priests and ministers started publicly supporting it,how would other ministers oppose it by silence?
    If we can get more to truly love the whole truth; is that not enough?

    What words describe someone who says, “I am a good (Jew, Christian, Muslim) but I do not will to work to believe everything God wants everyone to believe, whatever that is.”? ridiculous? self-deceiving? insane? not-thinking?

    Hence, a t-shirt with the message:

    All good (Jews, Christians, Muslims) will to and

    work to believe everything God wants everyone

    to believe and thereby teach their children how to

    truly love the whole truth so that they may be saved.

    see 2Thessalonians 2:10

    Should not all people with faith (especially grandparents) want to witness to this self-evident truth by wearing these t-shirts and giving (selling?) them to others (children, grandchildren, friends, people of all faiths) in the hope that this reminder will help many, by God’s grace, to work harder at finding the verifiable evidence and related questions that are convincing as to what God wants everyone to believe?

    Should not all ministers of all faiths have such t-shirts, or the same message, prominately displayed at all entrances of their churches so as to witness to this essential aspect of their faith to all parents and future parents?

    Should not all ministers of all religions be expected to freely make available the verifiable evidence and related questions they believe God can use to lead people to their faith and no other, and the best short responses they have found to the questions that ministers of other faiths put forward as helpful to discerning what God wants everyone to believe? (Short responses because many are not up to reading booklength responses, yet.)

    If this ever starts gaining momentum, who could publicly oppose it and what minister would want to be seen as not enthusiastically supporting it in the sure faith that God will lead all who sincerely seek the whole truth to His Faith?

    If you were the devil, (because you would fear, know, it would lead all (especially muslims) to the catholic faith) how would you stop it once it got started? Would not the devils only best shot be to keep priests from supporting it to begin with?

  • Anonymous

    My parish was handing out Rediscover Catholicism when I came into the Church! So awesome