BY JORDAN OTERO
“Oh my gosh, this is so going on ‘Overheard’ later.”
Such is a phrase that has become common at Franciscan University of Steubenville, in reference to the Facebook group designed to chronicle typical “Franny-isms.” Popular posts include rosaries hanging on the coat hooks in the cafeteria, MRS degrees and anything involving #catholicproblems.
Yes, these conversation topics are frequently “overheard at Franciscan,” but why does the student body seem to care more about their friends’ extensive use of the phrase “I’ll discern it” rather than, say, the government shut down, the Affordable Care Act, the Nairobi mall shooting or even Syria?
Have you ever wondered which one of our GenY peers will be the next president of the United States? Is it scary to think that our country will one day be in the hands of someone who grew up in an uninformed and complacent generation?
As college students, we are in charge of ourselves. We don’t have someone who lays out the next day’s outfit at night or gently rouses us from our slumber to a three-course breakfast just in the knick of time for our 8 a.m. class. Part of this newfound responsibility is not only forming ourselves as good people, but as good citizens of our country.
It’s clear that many students on this campus are less than thrilled with the United States government, but this is no excuse to be oblivious to current events. To be blunt, no one cares what that girl in the JC last week said while cooing over a baby. The number of guys you see frolfing at night will not determine what will happen with your tax dollars after graduation.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux once said, “The world is thy ship and not thy home” – essentially, live in the world, not of it. This phrase has become distorted to mean, “Be afraid of the world and bide your time until you die.”
We place such a heavy emphasis on “meeting people where they’re at,” “loving them where they are” and resort to simply praying for someone or a situation rather than acting. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this viewpoint and intercessory prayer is powerful (as a member of Daughters of Jerusalem household, I know this quite well), intercession is not an excuse to not act.
We can pray for our government and our leaders until our knees are bruised, our lips are chapped and our fingers are sliced open from the chain on our rosary beads. But it has almost no effect if we hole ourselves up and care only about what’s overheard in the “bubble” when, like it or not, we’re going to be up against the secular world until we draw our last breath.
Mark Hart, president of Lifeteen International, said at one of the Steubenville youth conferences this summer that we cannot fear the secular.
“There are people … who desperately need Christ inside of you,” he said. “That’s why we can’t fear the secular. We sanctify it. We take something that’s of the world and introduce it to Heaven. We go into those places of ultimate darkness and bring light. That’s what it means to be a Catholic. That’s what it means to be a Christian.”
There seems to be a tendency on this campus to ignore the world, for whatever reason, when this is not what we are called to do. We are “the salt of the earth … (and) the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16), and we cannot do this if we are more preoccupied about what the fox says than what the president says.