By RENEE WEBB
Speaking to a sold-out crowd, internationally-acclaimed author, speaker and television host Chris Stefanick helped Catholics “reboot” their faith during a presentation held Oct. 17 at Mater Dei Parish, Nativity Church, in Sioux City.
In introducing the speaker, Mary Lehr of Mater Dei Parish said Stefanick has dedicated his life “to inspiring people to live a bold, contagious faith.”
Amazing life, amazing faith
The speaker opened his presentation, Reboot, Live!, by asking the crowd, “Whoever wants an amazing life, say I?” To which hundreds gathered in the church replied, “I.”
“If you want an amazing life, you have to see life as something amazing,” said Stefanick, who added you must see life as part of an amazing story. “Life is a love story. Why is that good news? Because you and me were made for love.”
The most beautiful love story ever told, he reminded them, was found right in the Catholic faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Remove the love story from the story of faith, from the story of life – what are you left with? A bad idea,” stressed Stefanick, who noted when you remove the love story you are left with something burdensome. “When you put the love story back, your faith is profoundly beautiful. Not only does faith make sense, life makes sense.”
It’s not that the love story makes us better Catholics, he noted, it gives the faithful an amazing life that creates a joy which does not rely on other people, a peace that doesn’t depend on your circumstance and a hope that not even death can take away.
The love story of the faith, Stefanick said, starts with, “We believe in one God.” He stressed the fact that there is a God, which is the foundation of an amazing life, noting, “If there is no God, life has no purpose.”
The speaker told the crowd that God had them in mind when he created the world, was crucified and rose from the dead.
Given that each person is made in God’s image, Stefanick said, “You are a big deal.”
Addressing the youth of the audience, he said it is not another person that completes you, but God. Speaking to teenage girls he added, “If you cannot imagine the thought of not having a boyfriend, that is the first sign that you do not need to have a boyfriend. Be comfortable in your own skin first then you can have normal, healthy relationships with people. Find your bridesmaids now and your husband later.”
Continuing the theme of the life/love story, the speaker said God and the faith can help one realize that despite struggles like financial difficulties, divorce or illnesses, it doesn’t have to define their whole story. Failures, he noted, are just a page in a bigger, amazing story.
5 habits of holy people
In his second talk, Stefanick spoke about five habits of holy people.
1) Love yourself.
“Holiness is not first and foremost about the stuff you do for God, it’s about opening your heart,” said Stefanick, who stressed it was about receiving divine love. “In order to receive love well, you have to claim and live in the truth that you are loveable.”
That is why Jesus told his followers to love others the way you love yourself. The speaker told the audience to love themselves first so that they can love others and asked them to be mindful of how they speak to themselves.
The speaker asked the people to offer prayer and petition with thanksgiving and reminded them that prayer was supposed to be enjoyable.
“So often prayer is not enjoyable because we are not enjoying ourselves or enjoying the love of our father,” Stefanick said.
He told them prayer is a conversation with God and asked them to talk to the Lord from the heart each day for 10 minutes.
3) Share the faith.
An essential part of spiritual life is the concept that when you receive, you also must give. He gave the example of the two seas in the Holy Land – the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Water flowed in an out of the Sea of Galilee so it was healthy, but with the Dead Sea no water flowed out so life eventually dies.
When you don’t give to others, he said you become spiritually bloated and die.
“Don’t make it about you. All of us are being called by God to be his representatives in the world – all of us, for our spiritual health and because the world has forgotten the love story that makes life good. The world has forgotten hope and we are the answer that God is sending the world now,” stressed Stefanick.
He spoke of the importance of being connected to others – not just superficially.
“We are supposed to have friendships that are real, honest, raw and intimate – that’s how Jesus did friendships,” Stefanick said. “Jesus did not tell the apostles, ‘You guys are my work buddies.’ He said you are my friends.”
He suggested gathering with two to five other people on a regular basis to talk about powerful issues and be “brutally honest with each other.”
“The guys in my group know what to pray for, know how to hold me accountable and know how to hold me up. Do you have friends like that? If not, you are going down,” the speaker said.
“You have a right to forget yesterday – whatever in your mind, your heart, your past that you think disqualifies you from living an amazing life. Maybe your yesterday is a recurrent sin in your life, but you have the authority to make a change, to decide to completely cut it out of your life. Make a radical change,” Stefanick said.
If you want to live an amazing life, he said you must do things to change your life. Stefanick couldn’t promise that your cancer will go away, your parents will get back together or your child will get off drugs, but if you start walking closer to Jesus, he could promise that you will be changed.
“Let’s not leave here the people we came in as,” Stefanick said. “Reboot. We are made for life in the fullest.”
Learn more about his ministry at reallifecatholic.com.