SLB writes: “I’m hoping that Sue Brinkman can tell me something about the author, Matthew Kelley. My “Catholic antenna” is raised and he makes me uncomfortable. I can’t put my finger on it. . . . Can you help?”
From what I have read/researched about Matthew Kelly, this Australian-born speaker and writer embraces Church teaching and has always responded with obedience when corrected. He is the author of 12 books, including The Rhythm of Life, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, The Dream Manager, Building Better Families, and the New York Times bestselling Rediscover Catholicism..
He first arrived on the scene in 1997 with the book, Words from God, which contains messages he believed came to him from God the Father. In the book’s introduction, he writes about a strong feeling from God that came over him one night when praying three Hail Mary’s. After ignoring some additional urgings, he claims to have had another stronger feeling that he couldn’t ignore.
“I felt that this was something I had never experienced before,” he wrote. “And so I got out of bed, knelt down and I put myself in the presence of God. During that day and throughout this experience I felt God was asking something of me, yet, I couldn’t pinpoint it. I felt God wanted to speak to me. So kneeling there in my bedroom I said ‘I am listening.’ All in an instant, I heard what I now know to be the voice of God the Father, speak to me. Over the three months following that evening, the contents of this book have been dictated to me by God the Father.”
Kelly now downplays this part of his story, and I have come across some unconfirmed reports that he was told by a bishop to stop speaking publicly about these alleged locutions from God, a request with which he complied.
According to his official biography, Kelly was born in Sydney, Australia, one of seven boys who were raised Catholic and attended parochial schools. He began speaking and writing in 1993. Since that time he has travelled to more than fifty countries and spoken to over four million people.
In addition to his work for the Church, he is also a partner at Floyd Consulting, a Chicago based management consulting firm. His clients include: Pepsi, Procter and Gamble, the Department of Defense, McDonalds, USBank, 3M, Ernst & Young, HSBC, the U.S Navy, the U.S. Air Force, and more than 35 other Fortune 500 companies.
What might be making you uncomfortable is his current theme, which is all about creating “the best version of yourself” which sounds suspiciously New Age. However, Kelly’s approach to self-improvement isn’t through discovering our inner divinity – it’s solidly based on Vatican II’s call to holiness and encourages people to rediscover the glory of the Church through personal prayer, a deeper appreciation for the Sacramental life of the Church, and the Eucharist.
The good news about Matthew Kelly is that you don’t have to believe any of the messages he claims to have received from God. These purported revelations belong to the realm of private revelation and Catholics are not obliged to adhere to them.
I’m sure Matthew Kelly would tell you himself that if his writings make you uncomfortable, please don’t read them. Everyone has different tastes and certain authors may appeal to one person but not to another. Those are just “different strokes for different folks.” Nothing wrong with that!