Healthy Soul/Living Out Your Faith/My Life/Teen Life/Witness and Evangelization

You’re Probably Not Called to be Catholic Famous

“Oh my gosh! Amy one day you’re going to be leading worship at a Steubenville conference.”

“Sam, you’re going to be a famous bishop with a bunch of books.”

“Matt, you’re going to be a famous theologian and have your own radio show.”

“And you Julie, you’re totally going to be a Catholic speaker!”

One night, I was sitting with a group of Catholic friends and we were daydreaming about each other’s futures. At first I was a little tickled. Me? A Catholic speaker? My ego shot up about 10 levels. But it quickly went back down once I had a gut check.

Why did my ego shoot up?

Why did every single one of these things have to do with being famous?

In my time of being surrounded by enthusiastic, holy, faithful, young Catholics I’ve observed that many of us have this desire to be famous in our Catholic world. Perhaps it isn’t always in the form of a profession. Sometimes it’s that desire to do that talk on a retreat. Or perhaps it’s the desire to have hundreds of retweets (I’m looking at you Catholic Twitter). Whatever it looks like, maybe it’s time to really be afflicted by the truth.

I think this desire comes from two places. One, our desire to be known. But two, our good and holy desire to simply be great. Let me explain.

#1 Vanity.

God has created us with the universal desire to be worthy, known, loved, wanted, etc. Purely because of the fact that we are made for Him. God fulfills these desires of ours abundantly. He already tells us that we’re good enough, we are known entirely, loved infinitely, and wanted beyond understanding.

But because of our fallen nature, we often look to have these desires (temporarily) fulfilled by someone or something else. That something else for a lot us is being Catholic-famous.

It’s tricky because this disordered desire can be disguised as, “I’m doing work for the Church, it’s not vain or self-seeking.”

But it is.

And we need to check ourselves. I have to constantly remind myself there is no satisfaction in chasing Catholic fame. There is no room for both me and God on the throne of my heart. Who am I going to lead others to — me or Him?

#2 Our desire to be great.

We have it written on hearts and drilled in our heads to shoot for greatness and not to settle with mediocrity.

Yes, absolutely work to be great. But we face a problem when our entire lives we’ve been conditioned to believe that the more famous we are, the greater we are. This isn’t true. For a Christian, this is flipped on its head. To be great is to be little. If we allow ourselves to be little and die to ourselves, we allow God to be in control of our lives. We allow God to use us entirely. Our true greatness is found in God’s grandness.

What is it really about?

With these two in mind we can then look at God’s real call for us: To be disciples. To love people. To spread the gospel.

Maybe spreading the Gospel means going on a stage as lights blind your eyes out. But for certain, it means evangelizing to your family and your friends. It means walking one-on-one with people.

Let me be clear, that’s not to say “Catholic celebrities” don’t play a massive role in the body of Christ. They do. In fact, anything God calls us to personally is going to be massive, beautiful, and important.

Every well known Catholic person I’ve met has told me that they never planned this for their life. They say it’s not a career path or something you seek out. They were first a disciple and loved people. Then God literally shaped their lives and opened the right doors to lead to a life of doing ministry that is more public than others.

Saints

Ennie Hickman, a Steubenville speaker, touched upon this in a podcast:

“My holy card, if I have enough grace to be a saint, it’s not going to be with a microphone in my hands. That’s not what saints do. Saints pour their lives out and image Christ. Christ was maybe 10% with a microphone, but 90% of the time He was with people.”

To further that point, when we think of saints we don’t call them saints because they were just good preachers. We call them saints because they were counter-cultural. They loved radically. For example, St. John Paul the II was preaching all the time. However the story I’ll use when talking about him isn’t how once he talked to millions of people or how he wrote encyclicals. I’d much rather tell the story of how he forgave the man who tried to assassinate him. Or the story of how he still praised Jesus despite losing all of his family members before the age of 22. That is the kind of life we ought to aim for.

How to deal with it

When I went to go pray about this topic, there was a woman mopping the chapel floor. As I watched her tend to the church, I came to the realization that she was glorifying God just as much as anyone else. She is a vital part of the body of Christ. I asked myself, “If God had called me to serve this way could I do that as joyfully? Could I do that, even if no one knew my name?” When I struggle with this I reflect on her life. I reflect on the lives of the saints and the lives of the lowly but chosen, like our Blessed Mother, Mary.

I think we, as a generation of young people, need to work on overcoming this desire to be “Catholic famous” and learn to reorder our hearts to God. God is calling you and me to something tremendous. But we have to undo the notion that tremendous is the same as the worldly definition. Being great is about being little and lowly. The Church needs people who empty themselves, know their nothingness, and allow themselves to be vessels. At the end of our lives He isn’t going to ask how many people knew our name. He is going to ask us how we loved.

“From the desire of being praised, deliver me Jesus.” (Litany of Humility)

About the Author

Teresa Nguyen

I'm a twenty-something gal who's a big advocate for picnics, long walks, and dancing (even if you suck at it). I want to spend my whole life delighting in the Lord's love and being in awe of the sacredness of the human person.

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