My dear Brothers and Sisters of the SP Catholic Students' Society !
Praised be the risen and ascended Lord!
Yesterday, I came across a document on Catholic Campus Ministry. An excellent good read and a must-read especially if you're a leader in the SP Catholics Students' Society. It's an 11-Page long document so I'll just highlight some points that I thought was interesting.
Campus ministry (and each campus minister) must, as much as possible, radiate Jesus Christ in word and sacrament in everything that it does. This is what Pope John Paul II called for in Veritatis Splendor when he spoke of the sequela Christi—the following of Christ—in all things. This is the central teaching of one of the finest theologians of the last century, Hans Urs von Balthasar (made a Cardinal by John Paul II), when he wrote, “For this reason, lest everything in the Church become superficial and insipid, the true, undiminished program for the Church today must read; the greatest possible radiance in the world by virtue of the closest possible following of Christ.” By radiating Christ in all things, campus ministry will give witness to the beauty, truth, goodness, and unity possible in, with, and through Christ and His Church. It will allow the students to flourish in their journey to full adult membership in the Church.
On Adult Faith Formation
During the college years, most people make an adult decision about their faith life. Studies have
shown that if Catholics practice the faith during their college years, they will almost always
remain an active member of the Church. Conversely, all too many of the fallen-away Catholics
began their rebellion during their college years. This is why there must be many programs and
opportunities on our campuses for adult faith formation. Bible studies, prayer groups, small
group experiences, classes, reading groups, question and answer sessions, individual counseling
and spiritual direction, Catholic societies, and professional groups are just some of the ministries
that will be needed. Hopefully, campus ministry is supported by a vibrant academic community
which is dedicated to helping students integrate faith and life. Of course, an excellent
and faithful theology department is essential to this task. One very central moment in adult
faith formation is the Sunday liturgy where the homily should be a model of solid, practical,
enlightening proclamation of the beauty and grandeur of the gospel.
On Vocation Discernment
(Most interesting part of the document, I thought! :o )
(Most interesting part of the document, I thought! :o )
The idea of vocation should be an essential unifying theme for campus ministry.
As a young campus minister, Fr. Wojtyla taught his students to view life vocationally. Weigel reports that
“he once told Danuta Rybicka, whether one lived in a convent, in marriage, or as a single person
in the world, ‘You have to live for a concrete purpose.’” Not only did Fr. Wojtyla counsel this in personal encounters, but as Supreme Pontiff he made this concept the focal point of his first letter to the youth of the world before the very first World Youth Day. In this letter he used the story of the Rich Young Man’s encounter with Jesus in the gospel (Mk 10:17-22, Mt 19:16-22, Lk 18:18-23):
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, andasked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answeredhim, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know thecommandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall notsteal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father andyour mother.’” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observedfrom my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lackingin one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will havetreasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and hewent away sad, for he had many possessions. (Mk. 10:17-22)
This well-known story was used by John Paul II to illustrate some central teachings of the Second Vatican Council on vocation.
The story is filled with pathos. Obviously, the rich young man is drawn to Jesus. He sees something in him that touches him and makes him believe that perhaps Jesus can answer his questions. He is willing to abandon his social status by running after this poor homeless, rabbi and kneeling in front of him. He asks Jesus a great question, “What must I do to inherit everlasting life?” How like the young to have such wonderful questions!
Jesus tells him that he already knows the answer: keep the commandments. As John Paul II points out, what Jesus has said to the young man is that he is called, as we all are, to be holy— to be a saint. This is what the Second Vatican Council called “the universal call to holiness.” All are called to sanctity. Campus ministry must help instill in young people a genuine “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Mt 5:6).
But the story does not end there. The young man has been trying to live the commandments, to live a holy life, but he knows there is something more. “What more must I do?” Jesus, looking at him with love, tells him he must sell everything, give it to the poor, and then come and follow him. This young man was called to be a radical disciple, like the apostles were, following Jesus wherever he went.
Not everyone is called to such a witness to Jesus. But this man was. This was this young man’s particular vocation, his unique calling. He refuses and thus “goes away sad.” Campus ministry must help students have an authentic encounter with the Lord. They should help and guide students as they struggle to live lives of holiness. They should provide the time and space convenient for student’s schedules to frequent the sacraments (especially mass and confession). Campus ministry should challenge students to ask what it is that God is calling them to do and be. Abiding joy comes from following Jesus by doing the will of the Father. Campus ministers should help students discern their particular call so that no one will “go away sad” because they missed or refused God’s invitation to greatness.