Making a Mess and Being Foolish: The New Evangelization

Messy & Foolish by Matthew Warner

The little white book arrived in my mailbox with a sticky note attached, “Will only take 30-40 mins to read. I’d love to hear what you think?”

I love my “Catholic blogger” friends.  They are the best fruit from the time spent writing this blog and connecting with people online.
The book is brightly titled “Messy and Foolish.” It sounds like someone describing a middle school EDGE social night with a shaving cream fight, not a challenge to the faithful to build the Church.
And Matthew is on to something.
At the first opportunity, I found an hour on the “peach couch” (see the video) and started reading.  Less than a minute later I got up to find a pencil for underlining phrases and starring paragraphs.
The book’s title and premise stems from two different quotes from Pope Francis.  The first spoken in Rio de Janeiro at the 2013 World Youth Day:

I want a mess in the dioceses! I want people to go out! I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions, exist to go out!”

Pope Francis doubled down on the Make a Mess concept in Paraguay in July 2015, encouraging the faithful to 

Make a mess, but then also help to tidy it up. A mess which gives us a free heart, a mess which gives us solidarity, a mess which gives us hope, a mess that lets us meet Jesus and know God, who I know is very strong. That is the mess that you must make.”

Matthew’s book almost reads like a stream of inspired consciousness. It’s a quick read, but a long study.
His excitement over the prospect of making a mess, being “foolish” for Christ, and evangelizing the World is tangible, gets the brain going, makes you think. When you’re finished, the content tumbles inside your brain, with different points rising to the surface at odd moments. You want to run out and get started!
But there’s this sentence towards the end that caught my eye and stuck in my heart:

“Don’t let the pursuit of being a little something to everyone keep you from being everything to someone.”

Be Everything to Someone - Matthew Warner


I read this five times.  
Then I thought about St. Therese of Lisieux and her “little ways.” She wanted to be a saint. She wanted to become a missionary and travel the world.  But she lived most of her short life in the convent doing small acts of love with her whole heart.
After this great treatise on Making a Mess, Being Foolish, and Evangelizing, Matthew reminds us that you don’t have to do that on a huge macro level. You and your faith can be someone’s whole world in a little way. 
“We so quickly give the world and our work our best, yet struggle just to give our family enough.”

Messy and Foolish quote from Matthew Warner


Touche’ Matthew.  Great food for thought.
I’ll wrap this up with a  note that Matthew is partnering with Dynamic Catholic (lead by another Matthew – Kelly – I don’t know him personally) to develop this concept “Messy and Foolish” into something more. The official website invites you to take the concept further, dive deeper. Be sure to sign up for his monthly interviews for a fresh reminder and recharging.


And Matthew – with all the talk in our parishes about how to keep our Post-Confirmation teens active in their faith, you may have just hit upon a great post-confirmation young adult retreat theme. Let me know if you’re not going to run with that and we’ll chat. 

Grab Messy and Foolish: How to Make a Mess, Be a Fool, and Evangelize the World. by Matthew Warner in hardback here.  Or go here to get Messy and Foolish for your Kindle.  


Shelly Henley Kelly