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Holy Moments

David Cowles

Nov 28, 2023

“You were made in the image of God; act accordingly!”

In an earlier edition of Thoughts While Shaving, we contrasted Matthew Kelly’s concept of a ‘Holy Moment’ with Jean-Paul Sartre’s ‘Perfect Moment’. A perfect moment is an effort to create (or recreate) Paradise, using artifacts from the material world. Utopian political systems are examples of perfect moments. 

But laws are required only where humanity fails…law turns out to be a poor substitute for love. Memo to Marx: Love is the ‘withering away of the state’. 

A holy moment, on the other hand, is an action we undertake to project God’s values into the world. The ‘anti-political’ system that ‘governed’ Israel for c. 250 years between the death of Joshua and the coronation of Saul was ideally suited to facilitate such moments. The Book of Judges can be read as a compendium of holy moments that occurred during that period.

How can we create our own holy moments? There’s no definitive list, but here are a few ideas:

  1. Treat every person we meet as if they were Jesus in disguise.

  2. Ask yourself, ‘what would Jesus do (WWJD) in this situation’.

  3. Honor Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works (holy moments?) that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”   

  4. Do what you prayerfully believe God is calling you to do. “Here I am, Lord!”

  5. Take life one holy moment at a time. 

  6. Always ask yourself, “What is possible in this moment?”

  7. Always ask yourself, “Is this the best version of myself?”

When I was but a wisp, The Baltimore Catechism taught that ‘God made us to know him, love him and serve him…' What else is a holy moment but a way to know, love, and serve God? 

Now, if these 300 words have convinced you to make Holy Moments your new life’s work, here are some things you would do well to keep top of mind: 

  1. Our hunger for Goodness comes from God; it is God: ‘God with us’ - Emmanuel.

  2. “Character is destiny” (Heraclitus) and virtues are the building blocks of character; in fact, virtues are reflections of God’s character, his essence. 

  3. What matters is what you do next: ‘today is the first day of the rest of your life’.

  4. Holy Moments are not something you do (active voice) or something that is done to you (passive voice); they are collaborations (middle voice). 

  5. One seemingly insignificant holy moment may generate a tidal wave of goodness. Moments are plastic. You have the power to deflect them toward the Holy…or not.

The Holy Moments campaign is the stepchild of Matthew Kelly, but its ‘biological’ father is none other than Jesus himself. What are the Beatitudes but an anthology of holy moments? Plus, every holy moment is a transfiguration; it opens a window onto what’s possible. Bobby Kennedy: “I dream of things that never were and ask why not.”

The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert talk of two hungers: ‘the little hunger’ (for food) and ‘the great hunger’ (for meaning). Job preferred knowledge/meaning to wealth, health, and life itself. Jesus counseled us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (little hunger) and “Forgive us our trespasses…lead us not into temptation…deliver us from evil” (great hunger). Victor Frankl, writing after the Holocaust, echoes Job: Meaning is more important than Happiness!

Or perhaps you are not yet convinced. You say, for example, “I don’t have time for this Holy Moments nonsense; I’m out to change the world.” Well, God bless you; “we’d all love to change the world” (Beatles); you have a lot of deck chairs to rearrange, so best get to it. 

In reality, Holy Moments are the solution to the world’s problems…Unholy Moments got us into this mess, and only Holy Moments will get us out. Matthew Kelly offers a single meme to summarize Holy Moments Spirituality:

“You were made in the image of God; act accordingly!”


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