Be Not Afraid: College Life as a Catholic

Kyle Rosser, Guest Columnist

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This column may be about what it means to be a Catholic on a college campus today, but I hope that it can reach my fellow Blue Streaks who may not be Catholic or not even Christian.

With the news and reports about the Catholic Church over the last year, and especially over the last few months, it can seem difficult to be a Catholic in our society and on a college campus. We are living at a time where it seems like the Church is falling apart all around us just as we, young college students, are trying to find our footing and our place in the world. We are living in a difficult time, especially for young people. We grew up with our parents and guardians pointing to the leaders of the Church as role models for our lives. Yet when we hear the cases of Cardinal Pell in Australia or (former cardinal) McCarrick in D.C., we cannot help but to question not only the fitness of the Church leaders but also the teachings of the Church itself. How are we supposed to deal with these issues in our own lives? How could we possibly look towards the Church for guidance when it was the Church itself that allowed these things to happen?

The answer to these lies in the Church itself. As Pope St. John Paul II said in the homily at the inauguration of his pontificate, “Do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power.” John Paul II, through his ministry and call for the New Evangelization, invites us to open ourselves up to Christ, which includes His life, His death, His resurrection and His love. As students at a Catholic university, we are often told that we are the future of the Church. We are not the future, for we are truly the present. Each one of us has the power to make a difference in our Church. We must follow the words of John Paul II and “open wide the doors for Christ.” In these times of hardship, we so often want to naturally close within ourselves and try to forget what is happening around us. We may want to only focus on our group of friends, our parish, our group of like-minded individuals, but we must be courageous and humble to open ourselves to the will of the Father.

As members of the Body of Christ, we must not turn away from that Body which gives us hope, life and salvation. Rather, we must be willing to stand firm with our Church in this time of need. As the present, the now, of the Church, we must show the world that though the Church may be shaken by the recent events, it will not fall. If history looks back at this moment as a dark time for the Church, we must be sure that it is known that we are the ones who brought it back to the light.

My friends, the words of the first and only Catholic president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, ring in my heart: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” This famous quote can and must be applied to our view of the Church today. We must be willing to serve and do for our Church what is needed. Jesus said that He “did not come to be served but to serve” (Mt 20:28). As we are called to follow Jesus, that means being willing to serve the needs of our Church as our Church serves us.

This is what it means to be a Catholic on a college campus. It means to see oneself as able to be a leader in the Church here and now. It means to not be afraid to stand with your Church and your faith when it is being attacked and ridiculed by the outside world. It means to seek answers to your questions and to grow in your love and understanding of the Church. As we look forward to the future, we must look back at our past to guide us and to show us examples of what it means to be firm and steadfast in our faith.