2017-03_LT-Bubble

Long skirts. Morning prayer with the community. Some rendering of Jesus—whether in painting or statue form—staring down every corner. And crucifixes… crucifixes everywhere.

It’s not a convent, but it’s the next best thing. That’s right: Catholic school.

I went to Catholic school for 13 years. Jesus was everywhere. We talked about Him in class, we prayed throughout the day, and we went to Mass together as a community. Although I was more of a Catholic nerd than most, valuing my faith was not particularly odd. As a Catholic, I was comfortable. I was part of the majority.

But now, at a non-Catholic university, my beliefs stick out like a sore thumb.

AGAINST THE TIDE

At my college, like at most, there is no morning prayer, no uniform, and no Jesus—in any form whatsoever. In fact, I once mentioned “Christmas lights” in class and was informed that the campus-appropriate term was “holiday lights.”

Keeping Christ out of Christmas—and everything else—is a necessity so as to not offend others with different beliefs. I understand it in a sense; however, when I first got here, I had no idea how to let my faith flourish in an atmosphere that wanted nothing to do with it, and at times, even attacked it.

At first, I longed to be back in my Catholic bubble. But over time I began to recognize something beautiful at work: my faith was being tested—and made stronger.

Now, I have to choose to be Catholic. I can no longer take a passive approach to my faith, relying upon theology classes and morning prayer to satisfy my daily dose of religion. Since the culture I’m surrounded by challenges my beliefs, I have to understand them in and out, and understand why it is that I believe them.

Catholicism is all in or nothing, I’m learning, and if I want it to be a part of my life, I have to bring my all.

IN THE WORLD

Christ calls us to be missionary disciples, reaching out to people who otherwise wouldn’t hear the Good News. To do this, we have to surround ourselves by such people.

Staying in our bubbles may be comfortable, but it’s not our ultimate goal. At some point, we have to bear discomfort for the sake of spreading Christ’s light. Living in the world is the only way to fulfill this crucial part of our call to discipleship. After all, “it is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31).

And here’s another thing: we’re all sick. So often, we hear the term “secular world” tossed around as means of differentiating the religious from the non-religious. But all this does is create distance where there is none.

“The secular world” as we know it does not exist. There is only the world, which was created by God to reflect His beauty. Although sin corrupts this beauty, it is there, at the heart of all we see and do.

Yes, we’re all sick, but we are also all loved immensely by the Divine Physician. Everything in this world can point to His love for us. Whether it is explicitly Christian or not, the beauty of creation that surrounds us points to one thing: our wonderful Creator.

Living in the world isn’t such a bad thing when you realize that Jesus is everywhere. We just have to start looking for Him.

NOT OF IT

However, there is a caveat to Christ’s instructions that we live in the world: we must not be of it. This one word marks an important distinction in the way we conduct ourselves as Christians.

Romans 12:2 reminds us,

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, an adventurous Italian and servant to the poor, acts as an example of this balance between this world and the next. Frassati went to college in the 1920s and struggled academically. He loved being outdoors and mountain climbing. He was an average young adult; however, what distinguished him was his ability to find Christ in all that he did.

“Verso l’alto,” Italian for “toward the heights,” became a motto for his life and work, a reminder that, from mountain climbing to helping the poor, life was a constant quest towards heaven. Everything he did, Frassati realized, could point toward the heights of God’s Kingdom.

He knew that his faith made him stick out, and that the truth was never popular. But to him, it was worth it:

“To live without faith, without a heritage to defend, without battling constantly for truth, is not to live but to ‘get along’; we must never just ‘get along’.”

Frassati’s words echo true even today. If we’re living our faith correctly, we must be uncomfortable. We must be on the fringes of society, in the heat of battle. As we fight to make truth known, merely getting along is never an option.

CHRIST IS EVERYWHERE

“Put the Christ back in Christmas” is a phrase tossed around a lot nowadays. But let’s try for even more. Let’s put the Christ back in every day. I promise you He’s there, just waiting to be unveiled.

Although it is comfortable to surround ourselves by the Catholic superstars and powerful witnesses, we have to venture outside of our bubbles and illuminate the truth amid the darkest corners of our world. How else will Christ’s light be made known?

So, as we venture out upon this journey, let us pray for God’s guidance, reminding us to stand firm amid trial and to persevere amid discouragement. Christ is with us every step, in the people we encounter, in the ground beneath our feet, and in the message that leaves our lips.

Verso l’alto!

I’m praying for you!

Image via Flickr, CC 2.0, Logo added

About the Author

Faith Noah

I’m a college student at Vanderbilt University studying neuroscience. I’m from the great state of Texas, and my hobbies include rapping along to Twenty One Pilots, jamming out on guitar, and watching NCIS marathons. However, at the end of the day, you’ll find me either engaging in sugar-induced fits of hyperactivity or having a deep stimulating theological discussions. One extreme or the other. Fun fact: my whole name (together) is in the Bible. Hebrews 11:7. No big deal.