As a senior, I’ve heard my fair share of funny and bizarre conversations around campus. I’ve participated in quite a few. Myers-Briggs was fun for the first year or so until it became obsessive. And it’s commendable to debate hot topics if everyone involved is open to discovering truth in order to live it, not to put it in boxes.
In a place known for peers calling each other on to holiness, I’m continually surprised at how willing we are to let each other maintain divisive and sometimes harmful perspectives.
To be clear, there is a difference between making judgments about the actions of our peers who do not share our faith and those who do. We can’t hold others in the world to our specifically Catholic moral standards because they don’t share our values and so aren’t responsible for knowing those standards. There needs to be a little room for grey so that we are not condemning our friends’ ignorance.
But when it comes to brothers and sisters in Christ, we are held to the same standard. When these friends wander into the grey, it’s a cause for concern. Because we know there is truth, we should love each other in the grey but not leave each other there.
Though I don’t like stereotypes, I think I can allow that most Franciscan students are obsessed with Myers-Briggs personality tests. Admit it, we all enjoy finding out “what type” people are so that we can understand them better. We like being able to place people in boxes. But what happens when we let those types define them? “Oh, Joe is always late, he’s an ENFP.”
Maybe Joe is always late. Is he destined to spend his life being late because of his personality type? No. He’s meant to become a more perfect version of himself, which could evolve into being a timely person. If we don’t ever call him outside of his box, he won’t have reason to step outside it.
As some of you know, I’m a Catholic convert. If I’ve learned anything from Catholicism, it’s the beautiful truth that we are a “both and” religion. We are ONE, holy, catholic and apostolic. This means accept both the sinner AND the saint. We love you both as you are, AND as you will be when you become holier.
We recognize there is good AND evil in the world, though we know the good will always triumph. We pray Mass in the traditional liturgy AND we pray with praise and worship.
Franciscan University has opened my eyes to the beauty of the Church’s unity amid differences. A requiem Mass with music sung by the Schola nearly moves me to tears in an entirely different way than “Reckless Love” makes me want to weep for the teens in Nicaragua during adoration. Catholicism shows us the beauty of a God who has made countless paths to holiness.
The Church has declared both traditional and charismatic worship to be valid and beautiful forms of prayer to God. Pope St. John Paul II, probably the most quoted man on campus besides Jesus, said in the Meeting with Ecclesial Movements and New Communities in May 1998 that “The institutional and charismatic aspects are co-essential as it were to the Church’s constitution. They contribute, although differently, to the life, renewal and sanctification of God’s People.”
Of course, there are specifics that we should learn and understand about when each is appropriate. But holiness is not confined to just one category or one box. Everyone is individually called to live out holiness in his or her own way. This is the beauty of the community of faith which is the Church.
In this coming year, I have a challenge for you. Ask yourself: Am I afraid of discovering truth outside my comfortable box?
Franciscan is an excellent place to be challenged to get outside of your own head and your pre-conceived ideas. Whether those are ideas about the Church or about yourself, I urge you this year — whether it’s your first or last here — to be fearless in pursuit of the truth. Maybe it will be ugly and there is a great deal of healing needed, or maybe you’ll have to step off your pedestal of “being right” to include formerly unwelcome ideas.
Don’t box up and set aside practices or ideas just because they make you uncomfortable; if you do, there’s a chance you’re boxing up holiness with them.