CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Franciscan University is not the typical American university, and therefore, it does not have typical peer pressure. Instead of peer pressure directed towards some sort of grave sin, Franciscan students often experience peer pressure to take a holy hour at the Port, or to go to some household commitment, or to join every religious club and activity on campus. It’s a good problem to have, they all say.
But it is still a problem.
Don’t get me wrong. A holy hour at the Port is great. I just don’t think a person should be looked down upon if he or she is unwilling to take a 3 a.m. slot.
The thing is, what may be a deeply moving spiritual activity for one person does not necessarily apply for every other person on campus. God made each of us unique, and the fact that we each have different things that move us gives credit to God’s amazing creativity, and it does not make a person less holy.
I know personally that every time I have to turn down an invite to attend a religious event I feel guilty, and it doesn’t help when my friends continue laying on the pressure. “It’s only an hour.” “If you can’t give time to God, will he give it to you?” “What’s more important, God or homework?”
I’m sure we’ve all experienced this type of pressure in some way. Maybe we’ve even dished it out ourselves. It’s so easy to do at a Catholic school, we probably don’t even know when we’re doing it.
But it’s definitely something we all need to work on. This type of peer pressure is a form of judgement. Who is to dictate how much time I give to God save God himself?
Sometimes, the most holy activity you can do does not happen in a chapel. A person who does not go to daily Mass is not necessary less holy that a person who does.
As Catholics, we are not all called to live our lives in a chapel, but to live our lives as a prayer. Perhaps that prayer may lead you to the chapel. Or perhaps it may lead you across the world to minister to people in need. Maybe you are called to sit in a cubicle from nine to five solving problems that others cannot even comprehend. Whatever your calling may be, embrace it.
Right now, despite everything else that is going on in our crazy lives, we have all been called to the vocation of being a student at this university. So it is important that we do prioritize our studies in the midst of all our other activities.
But besides being students, we all have other commitments as well, other things that God has called us to do during our time here. Some people are called to play sports; others, maybe to get involved with theatre or student government.
Whatever you may be doing, remember that God has a hand in it all. So it’s important for us to give it back to him, to offer all we do for the sake of his glory.
So if you have a million other things going on and don’t get to daily Mass or household activities, let me tell you something: that’s okay. God may be calling you to something that involves a huge time commitment that prevents you from attending daily Mass, but if you are living your life as a prayer and offering that activity to God, it may very well be more holy than going to that particular Mass.
It’s also worth noting that God put us in this time for a reason. Sometimes I think, “I was born in the wrong time,” but then I have to stop and remind myself that I am exactly where God wants me to be.
Think about that for a little. God made you, and he looked at you and saw that what he made was good. And then based on how he made you, he decided where in time you were most needed. Every time I touch upon this realization I am filled with awe.
I do believe that we here at Franciscan were put in this time at least in part to be a light for the world to see. And of course, the world will not see our light shining inside the Church but in how we live our daily lives and interact with the world.
God should always be at the center of our lives, and we must all strive to spend time with him daily. But the form that that takes is all part of God’s plan and will be different for each person.
As St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”