Stay Catholic in College, Dawg!

boy praying

By Lucas Parker, Columnist

The uncomfortable is tempting to avoid.  Making commitments to things like getting up earlier, eating healthier, getting better grades, exercising more, and all the other activities we boast about avoiding, can be difficult.  As a culture, we have become accustomed to ease and comfort in practically every aspect of our lives. Consequently, an internal hostility towards anything that threatens this discomfort has developed.  Contemporary society encourages us to obey the whims of inclination. For many, said inclination may be to put off going to Sunday Mass, or Mass altogether.

It is so easy to put religion on the backburner.  Obligations like school, Netflix, sleeping in, and brunch afford little patience for an hour of worship, which may be of questionable value.  This value sinks when religion is treated as a “tomorrow” issue: “I will start going to church more when I’m really old and need it more.” Another torpedo to church attendance may be the idea that holiness is reserved for a select few, the idea that piety is only for those who enjoy it: the weirdos.  How self-destructive these sentiments can be!

Living according to Catholicism and in the fullness of her laws, we are not starving ourselves of fun, but rather participating in the source of eternal life.  Staying clear of the sacraments is like holding your breath. If you deprive yourself of oxygen long enough, you lose consciousness and eventually die. Thankfully, the body knows how to curtail this imbecilic endeavor by knocking you out and breathing on its own, but the soul is in grave danger if it is continually denied what it constantly craves, which is union with Christ.  Not being able to see our soul, it is easy to overlook, but its health is of much greater importance to us than physical health.

As we go about daily life, there is something within us that we are constantly trying to fill.  This hunger drives us to reach satisfaction by various methods, which are often meaningless or even harmful.  We keep searching and searching, and, if we find something somewhat pleasurable, we ravenously consume more and more of it, clawing for contentment.  But for a bottomless hole, we are in need of endless food, which is found in Christ and administered by His bride, the Church. In the fourth chapter of John, Jesus tells a Samaritan woman, as well as the rest of us, “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  By living a life devoted to Christ through the Church, we are not subjugating ourselves, but rather liberating ourselves and quenching our thirst for fulfillment. Ask anyone who fully embraces the Church and the life to which she calls everyone. They would likely tell you that they have no regrets and could not imagine setting aside the joy found in Christ for worldly pleasures.  

The simple practice of the faith, such as making Sunday Mass every week, while excellent, falls short of our calling.  “Become a saint, and do so quickly.” This command from St. John Paul II accurately reflects our true calling to spiritual greatness.  One of the biggest mistakes among college-aged Catholics is not recognizing this great opportunity. Sanctity is not something to be postponed or taken lightly.  It blooms brilliantly, though we may not immediately recognize it, when we take holiness seriously and immediately, even in college. Our lives are transformed when we work towards the noble goal of sainthood and help others do the same.          

As college students, we are just beginning to make big life decisions.  Our practice of the faith is one of those decisions. Being Catholic is much more than “being religious” in the sense that we go to church and sing a few hymns for sixty minutes.  The Catholic faith awakens our humanity and calls us to a life of royalty as heirs to the Kingdom. Let us not waste our time on what is mediocre. Let us look, then, to the good things of heaven as presented to us by the Church.  All are invited and all our welcome to this joyful banquet.

breath of life

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