Last week, the publisher at Saint Paul’s/Alba House informed me that my latest book The Complete Christian would be released at any time. I took a few moments to reflect on the goals of this project.
I hope that The Complete Christian will help readers reflect on how to merge the message of Jesus Christ into everyday living. Too often, I read the Facebook entries of former students, colleagues and friends and scratch my head in wonder of what is going on in their lives. With the new world technology, we can post our up to date events activities and thoughts. In one such post, a young college student explained how she enjoyed her most recent sexual tryst. No apologies, no regret. This young woman belongs to a family where Sunday church attendance was always expected as a high school student. Her newfound freedom that college has provided has obviously exposed her intentions.
I consciously overuse Pope John Paul II’s quote on freedom. The great pope wrote, “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” As followers of Christ, we are called to fully digest the message of the Kingdom. “Loving our neighbors as ourselves” is a fulltime commitment. Many Christians assume we can flip a switch and “turn on” the Christian life style when the situation arises.
I moderate the senior retreat program each autumn at Kellenberg. Attending ten retreats, I have the opportunity to meet many wonderful young people. In one discussion I ask my young friends, “What will your faith life be like in ten years” and includes, “Will you attend church regularly?” I am always amazed when they shrug and say that they don’t know. The students fail to recognize that the biggest obstacle to faith is our own selfish will.
Being a complete Christian requires diligence and hard work. Every devout Catholic has experienced “Sunday fatigue” when attending Mass is true effort. Our desire to personally receive our Lord in the Eucharist provides the strength to go to Him. Living a Christ-centered existence can be nearly impossible as our culture lures us to the dark side. I remind my students that the lack of faith of Nicodemus (John 3:2) and betrayal of Judas (John 13:30) lead them to the skulk around in the darkness.
Christ urges His followers to walk in the light and illuminate others. The catechist has the awesome responsibility of transforming young people into complete Christians. Teach them about the importance of vocation. Push them to hear the voice of Christ in their hearts. Show them the importance of finding Jesus and being Him as well. The secret of our most impressionable lessons may lie within the person in front of the classroom. Tell them why Christ is important to you and why you stand before them. As we settle into this school year, push your students to get out of their own way and find Christ who waits constantly for their arrival home.
The newly beatified John Henry Newman gave the world an incredible meditation of Christian living. Share it with your students in your efforts to make them a complete Christian:
God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me, which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good;I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.
Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends.
He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.