Get your Catholic on!

As I was leaving the Reflection Room at UMass Dartmouth after Adoration Wednesday evening, I looked up and saw a small poster that we had placed there several years ago. I recalled that during orientation that year, our Catholic Campus Ministry office sponsored a tabletop in the campus center. The purpose was to help get the message out that we have a Catholic Campus Ministry on campus and that we provide opportunities on campus for students to celebrate the Sacraments, learn more about the Catholic faith, put faith into practice through service and engaging the culture.

I specifically recall that at one point during the day, a freshman stopped by the booth to inquire about what we had available on campus. After speaking to her for a few minutes, she thanked us, and as she walked off, turned to us and said, “This year, I’m gonna get my Catholic on!”

With that one phrase, she helped us shape sort of a slogan that we’ve used on campus, that says, “UMass Dartmouth, Get Your Catholic On!” Now what does that mean to be Catholic?

A “definition” of what it means to be Catholic might be that our faith is at the heart of who we are; the values, practices and norms of the Catholic faith have become intertwined with our sense of self-identity. This identity becomes a compass for our life, helping us make choices and put our faith into action. To get your Catholic on means doing what we do because of who we are. We’re Catholic. We’re Christians. Followers of Jesus Christ. Getting Your Catholic On means doing, serving, caring, community, going to Mass, learning about the faith, praying, receiving the Sacraments. It means doing what we do because of who we are — Catholics! 

Are we getting our Catholic on? Is our faith the center of who we are? I guess we can only answer that for ourselves, but I know that I have met many people in my life that get their Catholic on every day. I don’t mean that they are radicals or conservatives or diehards. I mean, rather, that I see in them God’s love present and moving outward from their hearts. I see in them evidence of their relationship with God governing their actions, character and values. Simply put, they walk the talk. They let out what so many have trapped inside. As Catholics we are not called to a “me-God” relationship alone. We are called to an apostolic life. We are called to serve others. We are called to bring Christ to all others. 

The world is a crazy and scary place. And it is getting crazier and scarier by the second. So, what can we do about it? What can one Catholic do? Well first of all, we can get off our butts and get out there and make a difference. Each of us lives or works in a particular environment. We come into contact with those in these particular environments. The areas might be our college, our school or workplace, our family or town. Think! How can you help change that environment toward Christ? By getting your Catholic on, what might happen in that environment? Others will see you and how you act and perhaps will want what you have. You only need to bring Christ to one person at a time. Like a spark in a fireplace, that can start a roaring fire, your actions can help make your environments more Christ-like. You only need to be the spark. Yes, you can do that! 

But we need to get to work. We can’t just throw up our hands and say it’s crazy out there. If we only dwell on the current negative situations that surround us, we may very well give up. But let’s not give up, let’s look around and see where we can make a difference and then make a difference!

Let’s work together, young and old, to embrace the fullness of our Catholic identity at a time when many are wondering what it means to be Catholic. Let’s share with each other the various beliefs, traditions, and practices that externally mark one a Catholic that we may “discover the richness and deeper meaning of our own Catholic identity in today’s world.” Let’s get our Catholic on!

From a World Youth Day prayer, please keep these words in mind as you go about your day: “We believe in the Church, the people of God, who brings this faith to life through both word and deed. This is our Catholic faith. This is who we are. And we are proud to profess it through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.”

Perhaps, we can let that UMass Dartmouth slogan be our challenge today. 

Young people of the Diocese of Fall River, Get your Catholic On!

Anchor columnist Frank Lucca is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Fall River, a youth minister at St. Dominic’s Parish in Swansea and St. George Parish in Westport, and a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He is married to his wife of 39 years, Kristine, and the father of two daughters and their husbands, and three grandsons. So blessed!

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