Well, here goes nothing. I have had a note on my desk for many many months now. It just says “blog.” Veronica Ambuul and I talked a long time ago about me doing a blog for the Herald website. Obviously, I didn’t do a very good job of getting started in a timely manner.
Those who know me well know that I have no shortage of things to talk about. I can’t promise that I will be blogging a lot, but I do hope to share things as they come to mind.
A great family I met at church a few years ago (shout out to the Chromy family) introduced me to Orange Theory Fitness right after this last Thanksgiving. If you’ve never been there, it’s a fun way to get some exercise, but it isn’t easy. The first time I went I saw my entire life flash before my eyes, and all the donuts I have eaten at church over the years and all the beers I’ve enjoyed with friends at Ivywild and Trinity Brewing came back to haunt me. I am pushing 40 after all, and although I work with college students (and can beat some of them up the Manitou Incline), the old metabolism ain’t what it used to be. Since that first workout there, I have been trying to reserve Friday mornings to go. In fact, I just returned. Luckily one can blog in sweats as easily as in clerics!
One of the things I like about Orange Theory is it pushes me to workout harder, and not by someone yelling at me or screaming in my face, but by having a room full of people who are positively motivating one another and pushing each other to be better. And the results: we all work harder, and I think most of us feel great about the fact that we did it ourselves but we also did it as a team.
That’s the same type of motivation I would hope most of us experience in our parishes, in our families, and for me specifically, on campus. As a community, we need to take seriously our baptismal call and the necessity to motivate and challenge one another to live out that call. We need to work harder, to push ourselves to deepen our faith, and we need to challenge those around us to be their best selves and to work harder too.
And just like exercise isn’t very effective if someone is yelling in our face, we see that challenging one another to live our faith more effectively rarely, if ever, works by threatening people with hell, by isolating people, by ranting and raving at them, or by pushing them to the periphery and surrounding ourselves only with people who are exactly like us.
When I go to my Orange Theory class, there are people of all types. There are very athletic people. There are people who are pretty out of shape. There are people like me: we aren’t exactly ready for the glue factory, but we aren’t going to win any Ironmans any time soon either.
My average campus Mass is much the same. Over the years I have come to know many of the students pretty well. When I look out over the crowd, I see students who are well on the road to heaven. I see students who are struggling. I see students who are questioning and seeking. I see students who are barely hanging on. And that’s why campus ministry is so important. They all need to be there, and they all need to challenge one another to be their best self.
As Catholics we don’t always do a great job of sharing our faith with one another, especially with people who don’t live in our own little comfort zone, but community is essential to pushing one another, in charity, to work harder and to strive for real and authentic holiness.
The mission of campus ministry is to “help students live authentically Catholic lives on campus.” We have a lot of work to do, and the only way to do it is to work together.