Monday, 1 February 2016
Messy & Foolish - Matthew Warner
Messy & Foolish
This book packs a huge punch in a short number of pages! The hard cover comes in at 79 pages and ebook at 49. I believe I first heard about this book through The Dynamic Catholic Institute, but I cannot remember if it was a tweet, email or Facebook link. But however I stumbled across it I am very thankful. I am currently working through a list of Catholic books to read this year, and this was the first one I finished.
The sections in this book are:
INTRODUCTION: The Problem (and the Goal)
It's time to make a mess
What needs to change
PART ONE: On Messes (and Thinking Differently about Them)
Messes can be good
How to make a good mess
The work of an artist
Where it all breaks down
Where the mess must start
PART TWO: On Foolishness (and What It Looks Like)
Why be a fool? A fool's heart
What we need
The radical life
Time to dance
PART THREE: On Evangelizing the World (When and How to Do It)
When you can start
So how do we do it?
The most foolish act of all
This book stirs a lot up in our hearts and in our imaginations. The more if it I read the more excited I got. The book begins with: "There were no pews or seats, only cold, wet sand. But that wasn't going to stop three million energetic young people from celebrating Mass that day on Copacabana Beach in Brazil.
"Go!" said Pope Francis. "You have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community."" Talking about World Youth Day 2013 and the commission that Pope Francis gave to the youth present. He also quote Pope Francis in There were no pews or seats, only cold, wet sand. But that wasn't going to stop three million energetic young people from celebrating Mass that day on Copacabana Beach in Brazil. "Go!" said Pope Francis. "You have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community." And that is the premise of this book. We are called to be fools for Christ and to make a mess in the world. And through the rest of the book Matthew gives some guidance in how to go about that!
In the chapter on it being time to make a mess Matthew states: "Sure, we can point to many bright spots worth celebrating within the Church today, but the bleeding continues. None have yet reversed the mass exodus of modern man from church. We're in the midst of an identity crisis. We've forgotten we were made to live courageously." First he outlines some of the problems and then he goes on to challenge us to look at our own lives and mission and make changes to fufill the commission. He also declares "Are you ready to start a new era of evangelization unlike the world has ever seen? Good. Now let's get started.
Pope Francis was right. It's time to make a mess. It's time to change the world. And we are just the fools to do it." So will you take the rick, pick up the book and read it, but don't just put it on a shelf when you are done learn to live it!
Next he goes on to outline what needs to change. "Christianity has a very specific vision for how we should see the world and ourselves - a vision of man fully alive. But modern minds are skeptical. They don't take us seriously." And only we can do that by our witness but not specifically what we say but by what we do. Matthew says "Sure, we need inspirational leadership. We need solid teaching. Our organizations need to be more professional. We need to do community and fellowship better." And one of the most impacting statements in the book for me was "The truth is that the function of every no in Christianity is to provide us the freedom to say yes to something better, something corresponding positive points rather than the negative - when we talk about our faith in terms of what we are for rather than what we are against. This is an approach referred to as "affirmative orthodoxy." And it's an important lesson, but it's not enough." And "In other words, instead of talking about how beautiful the faith is, let's show the world its beauty. Instead of insisting how good the Church is, let's be good. Instead of lecturing about truth, let's live a life transformed by it." The only real lasting witness we will have is our own lives.
Matthew declares: "We forget that being a true Christian is not really about having the right opinions; it's about having the right heart - which is a very different thing. An orthodox life is not the mental challenge of staying between the lines, but an exercise in wildly overflowing the boundaries of the heart. Jesus' love is not measured and controlled. It is total and wild." Can we learn to live a strong passionate faith from a heart flowing with the power of the Holy Spirit? Again quoting Pope Francis: "Pope Francis points out that "the Church grows by attraction, not proselytizing." 6 The beauty in the Church is irresistible. The problem is that our sin distorts it. The saints learn to magnify that beauty through their love and humility, rather than distort it with proselytizing and pride. We need saints. And not just saints of the past - your sainthood." We need to be saints, saints in the world, living and working and serving.
There is an interesting quote from Peter Kreeft that really got me thinking "Can you imagine what twelve more Mother Teresas would do for this world? If twelve more people gave Christ 100 percent of their hearts 100 percent of the time and held nothing back, absolutely nothing?" Can you imagine how the world would be turned upside down? Later Matthew says: "We're scared to let go of our need to succeed. We're scared of not getting credit. We're scared of not getting the honor and power that come with whatever career path we're on. We're scared of missing an opportunity. We're scared of having our struggles and achievements go unacknowledged. We're scared of not maximizing our potential and our productivity. We're scared of being alone." So are you going to let your fears win, or will you open yourself up to the Holy Spirit and learn to be Jesus's hands and feet in the world.
This book will defiantly challenge you. All you have to lose is your frustrations, disappointments, and focus on self, And you have the whole world to gain and to serve! Will you try?
(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)