Monday, September 17, 2012
Catholic on Campus and the Importance of Your Church Family
But what is the worst part is that you are smack dab in the middle of Relativism Central, where everything is "true for you" and Catholics are outdated, old-fashioned bigots. Most views, religions, and groups are respected, but Catholics tend to get the short end of the stick. The anti-abortion group on my campus isn't even allowed to actually be a club, and routinely fight for the right to even be one. Yet groups that talk about other controversial things are allowed. So much for relative truth, but that's a whole different can of worms that I don't have the energy to open and deal with.
That's the nice thing about having a larger family through the Church. On my first fall term day, I wandered about an incredibly busy campus, rattling with all kinds of sloganeering, wifebeater-shirts, and bands, feeling as alone as one could in a crowd. But then I ran into a friend of mine, and it all changed; and the odds of running into someone on campus like that are almost nil. It made my day, because it reminded me that I wasn't alone at all.
My Catholic friends and I can be wierd together. We can make the Sign of the Cross before enjoying a pint and a meal, and feel like we all protect each other from the mudslinging of the world. We can talk openly amongst ourselves of our faith without having to worry one of our party will suddenly start throwing chairs in a rage about how evil and patriarchal the Church is. It's a strength in numbers thing I guess, but more than that, it is a solidarity of love for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We can stick together, no matter how hard the waves beat against us.
When I run into a Catholic I know, even if I barely know them, there is an instantaneous bond there - we both belong to the same family, we know each other in Christ at the very very least. It's a comforting thing for someone like myself, as I struggle intensely with feeling quite down and isolated sometimes. But when I see the smiling face of a Catholic friend on campus, amidst all the force-fed ideologies and relativisms, I am reminded that I am not alone in the midst of it all.
We do stand out as Catholics on campus - it's like people can just smell it on you (maybe it's the incense lingering!). I know that in my case, it's definitely not the scent of holiness. But we do stick out, and that's why I think it is important that we gather around each other, especially ones who seem lost, like Musk Oxen might gather around their young to protect them from wolves and the like.
But then my worry is that we will become an insular faith in the world. We aren't called to hide and be a pious little secret club, but a light in the world. It's hard though to even shine that light when everything is relative, and when practically our entire faith stands in some kind of "uncool" contrast to the world's varying ideologies.
That's where our Church family comes in - my wife, who is not Catholic nor religious in any sense, always reminds me when I feel lonely being Catholic that we are a faith of over a billion people. Sometimes, she just chuckles and asks "Remember how at home you felt in Ireland?"
So it's good to have friends - we are a communion, a family, and our bond, who is Jesus Christ, is unbreakable. Be not afraid on campus, or at work, or anywhere else - you're in good company.