How Modern Culture Is Robbing Billions of People of Happiness: THE BIGGEST LIE IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY, Matthew Kelly
Book Review and Comparison of Matthew Kelly and St. Vincent Pallotti
I just finished reading, but have not stopped reflecting upon, Matthew Kelly’s book, THE BIGGEST LIE IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY. His book is challenging on many levels and at the same time, hope-filled and gentle. He writes clearly and directly, getting to the heart of the matter. Kelly challenges his readers personally and profoundly. He plants seeds that can be carried away and sown into the hearts of his readers’ ordinary lives.
You and I are called to be holy.
Matthew Kelly’s main premise, “the biggest lie”, is Christians believing that holiness is no longer possible. Because of this belief, Christians are succumbing to a sense of hopelessness. This hopelessness stops us transforming the world and hinders us in becoming our best selves—the selves that God created in God’s image and likeness. The antidote to this lie is taking Holy Moment. Therefore, these holy moments build up holiness and enables transformation of self, Christianity and the world.
This work of Kelly is very similar to the spirituality of St. Vincent Pallotti. Whereas, Pallotti’s language is that of a 20thCentury Italian mystic, Kelly puts similar ideas in modern language.
Matthew Kelly and St. Vincent Pallotti
St. Vincent Pallotti would agree with Kelly that we are called to be holy. “Holiness was the constantly-repeated desire of St. Vincent for himself and for all human beings. In a time that often lacks a sense of personal responsibility a call to sanctification could turn hearts and minds back to the Source of it all.”
One of St. Vincent Pallotti’s main tenants is every person is created in the image and likeness of God. That is a truth that lends itself to a further truth; everyone is brother and sister to one another. “I would serve all my brothers and sisters, no matter who they are—the children, the young people, the poorest and the most unimportant. My God, let me serve them all.” St. Vincent takes this idea one step further, when he says that everyone is called to be an apostle of the Eternal Father. No matter what a person’s station in life, how mundane their earthly vocation, they can still attract people to God. Just consider that construction workers, sanitation workers, prisoners – all can be apostles.
Matthew Kelly keeps it simple. Start with a holy moment be it a prayer of gratitude, do something difficult as an intentional act of love, discerning how an action will “help me become a-better-version-of-myself”. (If you are a fan of Dr. Phil’s, this becoming a better self is definitely in his radar of topics.). “Holy Moments are possible. Holiness is possible.”
When studying St. Vincent, he can be overwhelming with all that he desired to accomplish and did accomplish in his lifetime. In the outbreak of a cholera epidemic, he created the first food stamps; set up night schools for boys who had become orphans; set up boarding schools for girls; started a union of lay members for fundraising and special projects; started an order of Sisters (Congregation of Pallottine Sisters), and started an order of Pallottine priests and brothers. Yet his gathering people to the apostolate mirrors Kelly’s relating the Spiritual Multiplication.
Kelly desires to mission people to “disciple three people” building on the concept of Holy Moments. If these three people recruit three people, and this continues to build, in just 13 cycles, you would hit 2,000,000. And it certainly works. St. Vincent began with a handful of followers in Rome. His congregation of lay men and women, sisters, brothers, and priest are throughout the world—almost in every continent. Their ministries empower others through retreats, health care, education, social work, churches, catechetics, etc.
St. Theresa of Lisieux and “the little way”
As to clarify, another way to think of a Holy Moment, is to consider St. Theresa of Lisieux’s little way. She never left her monastery but is the patron saint of missionaries. She died at the age of 24, and she was a doctor of the Church. Her theology was that of the little way—to do small things for the love of God and the salvation of souls. This is a reminder that we do not have to do great things for God. God is the one that makes great things happen with whatever we offer to God.
A Spiritual Boost of Hope and Empowerment
I strongly suggest this book for those who are becoming apathetic to the world and its politics and are being called to a spiritual awakening. Kelly is certainly not holier than thou and certainly understands the world today. This book is for all Christians and people of good faith.
Fr. Seamus Freeman, SAC, 1994, p.iii – Preface of Empowered by Love: An Active Spirituality for Contemplative Christians,Pat Jackson, SAC, Martini Publishing, © 1994.
St. Vincent Pallotti
THE BIGGEST LIE IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY, Matthew Kelly, Blue Sparrow Books, North Palm Beach, Florida, ©2018