Franciscan University is a safe haven for young Catholics. What other place in America can college students be as free to live and speak their faith but here?
While this safe haven is a wonderful thing when the students are here, it can also be a hindrance to them when they finally graduate and have to leave this oasis.
There is an overabundance of positive reinforcement, but students really do not have to think outside of the “Catholic-box” while they are here.
As I was sitting in Scott Hahn’s class the other day, he verbalized similar feelings about this problem. He expressed the need of a “reorientation” program of sorts to equip the students graduating Franciscan with the ability to not only live their faith but successfully communicate it with other people.
Hahn continued by stressing the need for students to enter into friendships with those who are of different faiths or have no faith to feel the force of the argument on the other side. He said that your friendship with that person will make you want to know and learn to love the truths of your Catholic faith.
These people should not merely be your projects, they are real people. You have an opportunity to touch the heart of a person who does not yet know the fullness of joy found in our Catholic faith. The reason to confront them is to enter into disagreements out of love, hoping to share the truth of Jesus Christ with them.
This valuable tool of apologetics isn’t something that you can become proficient in while sitting in a classroom. While you can learn the doctrines of the faith in a classroom that can help you explain your beliefs they are challenged, the real ability to communicate and defend your faith comes from doing it.
I have heard many people say that they hate going home over breaks because of the pressure and persecution they receive from friends, or even their family. Do not see this as a bad thing, view it as a challenge to live as Christ and his Apostles did: with faith, fervor and strong confidence in your faith. Your ability to communicate it well will come in time.
If you are blessed enough not to have these trials to overcome when you go away from school now, know that you will be entering an entirely different world when you graduate. Your faith must be active, not passive.
Reach out to people, counsel your friends who do not know the truth, post things on social media about your faith that may cause people to squirm. You were called to be burning with the fire of the Holy Spirit, not one of the lukewarm believers that John writes about in Revelation.
Enjoy this safe haven of our campus-on-a-hill while you are able, but be aware of the harsh world that we live in and start preparing now for your life after graduation.