Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are You a Devout Catholic in College?

If you are a devout Catholic in college (or recently graduated), I highly recommend you read this post from Elizabeth Foss. It is insightful.
As I've watched college students graduate recently, I've noticed a distressing trend. Campus ministries are becoming better, teaching orthodoxy without hesitation. Genuinely Catholic colleges are brimming over with zealous young people.

And yet.

There is a harshness, a sort of snobbery happening. I watch in not a little horror and listen to what they are saying, as they measure other people by their overt acts of piety, while they size people up and discard them like the stuff of yesterday's recycling bin because they don't fit the new collegiate image of perfect holiness.

And I can just imagine that several years hence, they will go together with their young children to a playdate. They will meet another young mom at the park. They will inquire as to how many children she has. And when they discover that she has two, four years apart, they will say something sanctimonious about how they are open to God's plan for having children and has she ever heard of NFP? She will sit and wonder briefly whether she should tell them about the two years of cancer between the first birth and the second, about how desperately she prayed for this second child, about what a miracle he is. That young mom, with the two children widely spaced, will have just learned how some people of faith can judge one another. Litmus tests. Checklists. As she raises a family in the real world, she will see that attitude given voice over and over and over again, while Jesus weeps for his Church, broken and divided.

What's the opposite of gentleness? Harshness. Hard lines. Brittle rules.

So there you are, you all grown up and graduated and out in the real world! You've come so far. You've left behind the safety of campus life, the happy campus ministry, the structure of academia. You've gone and gotten yourself a real job in the real world. With a real cubicle and a good excuse to shop at that very fine career wear store. Good for you!

You have a zeal for the faith that can be spotted a mile away. You wear it proudly splashed across your chest on more than a dozen t-shirts collected over the years of vibrant Catholic education. And you've come to embrace all those devotions of our faith as you've learned of them in your coming-of-age. You are on fire for your faith and you are eager to go out there into the real world and tell everyone just how Catholic you are.

May I whisper a word or two to you?


Liz said...

wow. excellent. just shared this with a bunch of devout friends. we needed to hear this! thanks!

Gert said...

Gosh I haven't seen it, and I've watched three children graduate from Texas A&M. Those who have discovered the beauty of the Church teaching on human life have more than likely long ago embraced the teachings on forgiveness and love of neighbor.

What is more obvious is the harshness from the other side who really don't want anything to do with people who are living their Catholic faith. What really hurts is when it comes from "catholics". When my wife (a bible Christian) was pregnant with our third, she got comments from "catholic" mom's about how she should use birth control. I guess they thought there was no sense letting a non catholic think they were some sort of practicing believing catholic.

Thanks for pointing out that we can become haughty, but the kids I've seen who are using NFP are beautiful, wonderful people. Let's be careful when we criticize, even when it is with good intention. They need our love and support, not our doubt.

Blair said...

I thought this article was very good food for thought. But I will say that as one of those zealous college grads, I don't think it took long for me to be knocked off my horse. Once you get a couple years into marriage and parenthood (and I imagine it's similar in the religious life), the challenges of your vocation start to break through those rose-colored glasses and eradicate those judgmental thoughts very quickly. Still it's obviously better to live out humility in the first place!

Brandon Jaloway said...

My Take on Gentleness in the Real World

I completely agree with the part of the article about: "Gentleness. Humility."

However, the girl's video was a response to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jhxYO7wr4A which is obviously some lighthearted humor, "a total throwaway song". It went viral and was posted on Aggie Catholics http://marysaggies.blogspot.com/2011/02/catholic-pickup-lines-song-goes-viral.html It is about this list which started with Patrick Madrid in Envoy Magazine http://patrickmadrid.com/pats-top-ten-orthodox-catholic-pick-up-lines/ The list has been reworked, expanded, and re-posted elsewhere since then. So, if we can't have some lighthearted humor, how will we ever attract anybody to such a glum religion? I would take them more as silly, funny songs. In order to not be too judgmental, I think it is pretty easy to hear them that way.

Marcel said...

Gert - It isn't across the board, but does occur.

Brandon - I think that David's song was more for humor. Unfortunately, there is a bit too much honesty in this young ladies song. While earnestly desiring something good, the danger of having such a perfect prince of a list is the reality will never fit.