July 23, 2010

Seeking the Face of the Lord

We must continue bringing the truth of Christ to college campuses

Catholic campus centers serve as a reliable tool on university campuses to bring knowledge and truth, through faith and reason, to all young people.

The pursuit of the truth finds its greatest end in Christ, who is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).

Ministry on our college and university campuses facilitate opportunities for students to encounter the Good News of the Gospel, the living and true God, who is Jesus Christ.

The discovery of truth through faith and reason has the power to draw students into a new life characterized by all that is beautiful, good and true.

A Catholic university or a university’s Catholic center takes up the task of promoting the vital interaction between faith and reason, the two harmonious ways to the truth, which is always one (“Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” # 17). This interaction fosters not only a greater love for truth itself, but also becomes a vibrant witness to the goodness and beauty of human life.

Pope Benedict XVI explains, “The dynamic between personal encounter, knowledge and Christian witness is integral to the diakonia [service] of truth which the Church exercises in the midst of humanity. God’s revelation offers every generation the opportunity to discover the ultimate truth about its own life and the goal of history” (“Address to U.S. Catholic educators,” April 17, 2008).

College and university students face substantial distortions of truth, which can hinder their opportunity to discover and serve God. Often, these distortions are based upon a faulty notion of freedom.

The Church continues to proclaim to students the words of St. Paul: “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Rather, serve one another through love” (Gal 5:13).

Among the temptations pervasive in our postmodern university communities are materialism, relativism, atheism, agnosticism, secular humanism, sexual promiscuity, and drug and alcohol abuse. These aberrations gravely limit true freedom or even deaden the soul and one’s capacity for truth and love.

In the midst of the struggle against the “works of the flesh” (Gal 5:19), a Catholic Newman Center lifts up for students true freedom in Christ, embodied in the “works of the Spirit,” which are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22).

Our mission is to continue to support the good works of established Catholic campus centers within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as well as revitalize those which may have been lost over the years.

I extend my deepest gratitude to the many faithful priests and lay leaders who have worked tirelessly over the years, and those who continue to bring the truth of Christ to our young people on university and college campuses. I encourage our future priests and lay leaders to rise up and bolster the evangelization efforts on our campuses in the years to come.

The words of St. Paul to the Romans are a perfect invitation to our young university students of today, “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:1-2).

Peers have a definite influence and impact of each other, and thus are well situated to witness and teach the art of Christian living among themselves.

Recently beatified, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a model of one who embraced the art of Christian living and empowered his peers to do the same. Named by Pope John Paul II the saint for young adults of the third millennium, Blessed Pier exemplifies those characteristics of Catholic living that our young people thirst for in their lives.

He lived a preferential option for the poor as he gave his lunch money and allowance to buy second-day bread to feed the homeless. He was an accomplished athlete, and used this gift to bring his peers into relationship with Christ and his Church. He was an avid believer in the sacraments and, as a young man, began to attend daily Mass and frequent the sacrament of reconciliation. He had a profound influence on his peers.

Blessed Pier Giorgio once told his peers at a young adult rally, “I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharistic Table as often as possible. Feed on the Bread of the Angels, from which you will draw strength to fight inner struggles, the struggles against passions and against all adversities, because Jesus Christ has promised those who feed themselves with the most Holy Eucharist eternal life and the necessary graces to obtain it.” †

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