The day before Valentine’s Day, Chris Stefanick reminded attendees at Reboot! the greatest love story was life from the loving Creator.
But love itself requires a relationship and recognizing God’s love in ones’ lives leads Christians “to live the life you were made for,” he explained.
“Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive,” he said.
Stefanick, an international Catholic speaker and author, brought humor, energy and new life to the Gospel message at St. Joseph Church in Conway Feb. 13.
He is founder and president of Real Life Catholic, a nonprofit that aims to “reengage a generation,” according to reallifecatholic.com. The married father of six stars in the TV show “Real Life Catholic,” on EWTN and Amazon Prime. It was Stefanick’s first time in Arkansas, one of only three states he had yet to visit. On April 4, he will present Reboot! at St. Raphael Church in Springdale.
“It takes all kinds of events and special activities to get people’s attention,” said Christy Trantina, director of adult and family faith formation at St. Joseph. “He’s a fresh voice.”
Stefanick had participants laughing throughout Reboot!, but it was the stories of saints, his family and not reducing God to a one-dimensional meme that had the greatest impact.
Selena Santos, 15, a confirmation student at Sacred Heart Church in Morrilton, took the message of love to heart, “how God loves us all and anything with him is about love, so that touched me.”
His second talk focused on five habits of holy people and how each Catholic can follow them. Each person received a gift bag, which included a Reboot journal listing the habits:
• Love yourself: Jesus instructed everyone to “love your neighbor as yourself.” He pointed out several Bible stories of Jesus encouraging self-care, including raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead in Luke 8:55, instructing to give her something to eat.
“Sometimes we’re dead and we just need a sandwich and that’s OK,” Stefanick said.
He also explained how the voices in our head tear us down.
“There’s a war between heaven and hell, the frontlines meeting between your ears, pick sides,” he said. “Take the pen from the devil’s hand, he’s a great script writer, and give it back to God.”
• Pray: Stefanick showed a photo of his young daughter, who was smiling at him for about five minutes during Mass, finally saying “‘You’re my dad.’ And that’s how we’re supposed to enter into prayer,” he said.
Daily prayer is a conversation, which for Stefanick, includes thanking God and listening to God through the Bible, opening the “Gospel according to iPhone,” to search for the daily Mass readings. “Enter prayer thinking my father brought me here and he loves me.”
• Share the faith: Stefanick explained how Christians are often like the Dead Sea in Israel, where water flows in, but not out.
“We receive all this grace from God. If it doesn’t flow out of us, we wind up spiritually bloated, making it all about ourselves and then spiritually dead,” he said, sharing the faith in action and word. “… I’m not saying be obnoxious, you don’t have to be a fire hydrant; be a sprinkler system.”
• Friendship: Jesus showed by his relationships with his apostles the intimacy people need to have with their friends. Stefanick asked if everyone had friends “you can tell you love them, you can tell I got your back. When they’re down you can tell them the great qualities that you notice in them to lift their spirits up. Do you even notice those qualities?” He challenged people to get together with two to five others every month, say a prayer together and simply ask “How are you?”
• Reboot: Instead of carrying around the wounds of sin, the faithful must put in the work to change it.
“Reboot, start over again, forget about yesterday … My yesterday is more powerful apparently than what God did by dying for me? Can we please stop living under these stupid lies,” he said, which could mean leaving behind bad influences or sinful habits. “Is that awkward? Yes. Every change we make in our life is awkward, it’s difficult, it’s painful. ‘Take up your cross and follow me.’”
Jeff Crowder, a St. Joseph parishioner, said “I really had a rough day and started not to come,” adding he was grateful he came “to put things back in perspective. Not having to worry about little things going on, but focusing on the big picture.”
St. Joseph youth minister Morgan Evans said she hopes Stefanick’s relevant explanation of the Gospel will revive everyone.
“I’m excited to see the turnaround, to see people excited about their faith again,” she said.
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