Monday, August 13, 2007

Sts. Pontian, Pope, Hippolytus, presbyter, martyrs

Today finds us in Nashville, staying with Pat and JoLind Weaver. We're going to visit John Paul II High School, and Hermitage (Plantation of Andrew Jackson) Baby Samuel has been fairly calm, got a little cranky during the long trip last night, but he's perky and happy this morning.

The international convention of the Knights of Columbus was just held here in Nashville. Tarcissio Card. Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See was present and preached. It is an obvious example of Rome's desire to affirm the KofC's in their ministry to the Church in the United States and throughout the world. The cause for the Beatification of their founder: Fr. Michael J. McGiveny goes on apace.

College students ministering to college students! (Whaddle they think up next?) A new group called FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) strives to restore or further the faith among Catholic college students. According to Patrick Rivera who has committed 2 years of his life to this ministry, 70% of college freshmen stop practicing their faith by the end of their first year in college. Of course, we've seen this in our own experiences with former students from Subiaco, and among the children of the parish. "Today's culture tells students that Catholicism is dead, but that's a lie. We show them that they can live lives of chastity, sobriety and excellence, and that you can find joy in that," says Rivera in an interview by Kim Bastone in the Tennessee Register, the paper of the Diocese of Nashville. This ministry seems to be working, but Oh! how few there are to do it and how few will benefit for want of ministers.

I believe that the problem for college students is that they are removed from their old communities of families, friends, and faith, and placed in an entirely new environment for which they are not really prepared. Fraternities and Sororities, teams, dorm mates, etc., all of these provide new communities that are seldom faith based (or are based on the wrong faith) and the student is then, in the whirlwind of new experiences and new communities, unable to find or unable to give him/herself to the local faith community of the Catholic Church, whether at the local campus ministry, or a local parish. Cut off from the community of faith, admittedly by their own choice, they come home at Christmas only going through the motions of religion (if at all) to get mom and dad off their backs.

A normal, young, Catholic cannot exist cut off from the community of faith for very long without that faith dying. It is to be hoped that that faith will be fanned into flame again (if there are any coals left); but no one should believe that it will happen automatically, or of its own accord. Vigilance is always necessary for the maintenance of the Catholic Faith.

Collect for day: Lord, may the loyal suffering of your saints, Pontian and Hippolytus, fill us with your love, and make our hearts steadfast in faith. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen


Dean said...

Where have I heard this before? Oh yes, during your sermon to the high school graduates. Probably thought I wasn't listening up there in the choir. Anyway, that is not important. What is important is the fact that you are correct. I remember the peer pressure I faced as a young college student, and though I didn't submit to the pressures of the illegal, I was too easily persuaded away from the church. That was twenty years ago. I look at my sons today and I see them going through so much more pressure than I had and I pray that they are strong enough to resist. How does a parent keep that "community" in their lives when you know it is best for their education to go off to the best school they can? When they are living in your home it is so much easier to help them keep the faith, but how do you do it from hundreds of miles away? It is a dilenma I know I will have to face, and I pray for guidance.

Subimonk said...

Well, on one level, you can't do much about it once they've left home. However, try to keep them as faithful as you can while you have them. Share your faith with them, and explain how important it is to you. Show them that we are part of a faith community, and community needs constant work to make a go of it. Pray for your children's faith to grow. Don't nag, and don't despair. Sometimes, if they leave, they will come back when it starts to mean something to them.