Book Review: The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic

Book Review: The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic

Matthew Gierl, Literary critic

How Engaging 1% Of Catholics Could Change the World
By Matthew Kelly
216 pp. First Edition, Beacon Publishing. $18.

I’ve met a lot of Catholics during the course of my relatively short life. But no two Catholics are exactly alike, as can even be seen in my home parish at various religious events. Since no two Catholics are the same, you would expect there to be some friction between them every so often, correct? Very correct.

Just think about the last time your parish priest said something that seemed to contradict your opinion. How did that make you feel? Were you curious as to why the Church’s opinion differed from your own? Or were you upset about it? Your answer to these questions may indicate the type of Catholic you are, and there’s no doubt that others will have answers similar to your own.

So what makes Catholics similar and different? Matthew Kelly sets out to answer this “loaded question” by defining a “Dynamic Catholic.” A Dynamic Catholic is someone who truly wants to bring their faith to the next level, using numerous methods to gain knowledge and devotion.

During months of interviews and careful analysis, he found that the people who could be defined as “Dynamic” were likely to have some things in common. Eventually, these were identified as the four signs of a dynamic Catholic; Prayer, study,generosity, and evangelization all come together to create a “Dynamic Catholic.” 

It all seems simple, right? It seems as if there would be a majority of these “dynamic” Catholics within parishes across the country, right? Unfortunately, if you mentally answered “right,” you are most certainly wrong. Matthew Kelly found that just 7 percent (on average) of Catholics nationwide can be classified as being “dynamic.” But fortunately, he provides what appears to be a simple solution.

Kelly discusses the four signs of a dynamic Catholic in depth. Not only that, but he provides examples of how to improve the relevance of the signs in your life. For example, when attempting to increase daily prayer, Kelly asserts that it is key to keep a daily routine schedule with time allotted specifically for prayer. In attempting to increase generosity,Kelly suggests that one plan how they are going to contribute to charities throughout the year before it has even begun, implying that planning this will make it easier to follow through.

Of all that he discusses and suggests, he reminds the reader often that the underlying key to success in becoming (and remaining) a dynamic Catholic is devotion to Christ. Kelly does an excellent job of subtly emphasizing the importance of Christ in the lives of people who are able to be classified as Dynamic Catholics. From the earliest chapters in the text, he shows the reader how important the relationship with Christ is to dynamic Catholics: “[He]is not a distant force to these people, but rather a personal friend and adviser.”

Therelationship between God and man can be difficult to fathom and even more difficult toattain, but for a dynamic Catholic it is imperative to their success as Christians and citizens of the world to maintain this relationship.Whether you’re already a dynamic Catholic, just starting out, or not Catholic (or even Christian at all), Kelly has something you’ll find interesting. In reading the book, I not only discovered new ways to grow in my own faith, but also ways to help others grow. Kelly reminds the reader that becoming a dynamic Catholic is not impossible at all. In fact, if just 1 percent more people were to become dynamic Catholics, parish life would flourish with more service events, donations, and overall giving back to the community inservice of Christ.It may seem like a tall mountain to climb in becoming a dynamic Catholic, but Matthew Kelly has provided a ski lift. Let’s take a ride to new heights!