The end of the summer is the time when college students make their way off to or return back to their respective chosen schools. I write this week’s column with them particularly in mind.
There was a funny and curious expression that I heard used in the past about this rite of passage or trek away from home: It’s time to sew some wild oats! The idiom basically means to indulge in a period of irresponsible behavior. Any parent would be naive not to think that college life holds many temptations and opportunities for sordid experimentation, in addition to the supposed education/learning that should be taking place.
That being said, I still believe in the goodness of our young adults. I hold that the young people today have some very unique challenges that earlier generations never had—accompanied by various special graces—as they live in today’s world. Kudos to those students who study diligently, participate in sports or other activities, and even may work part-time or full time jobs while at college!
I humbly take this time to give you a few words of advice, with my hope that you ponder what I have to say. Like any good parent (after all, I am a spiritual father), my words are intended with love and genuine concern for your well-being:
· Remember who you are and where you come from. My father used to tell us “never to do anything that would embarrass the family name.” It was his way of saying that he and my mother tried to instill certain Christian values in their children and they expected us to live by them. A sign that I read sums it up perfectly: Character is who you are, even when no one is watching. (God, in fact, is always watching!)
· Remember that your faith will be tested. Even if you attend a Catholic college, there will be times when you will be called to witness to your faith and your faith will, no doubt, be challenged. Will you make an attempt to attend Mass? Will you try to pray each day for strength and guidance? Will you blindly accept criticisms of the faith from other students and various professors? Will the pressure of your peers lead you to try “forbidden” things or abandon values that you were taught? When tested, your faith can become stronger.
· Try to find and to associate with friends having good moral values. Your choice of friends is just that—your choice. It is much easier to live a good, happy life when in the company of like-minded people. Choose wisely! Moreover, seek out the Newman Center on the college campus and/or become aware of the presence of the Catholic chaplain. Other students serious about their faith will, hopefully, be doing the same.
· Remember the intended purpose of higher education. You should go to college (and beyond) to get an education, to prepare for a career and to develop as a better person. Don’t let the experience turn into an overly-expensive party with the potential for some pretty serious consequences!
· Don’t be afraid to turn to your parents (or someone you trust) when necessary. Even if you do something stupid, realize that your parents are there for you. Their love for you should be constant.
If you ever need someone (in addition to your parents) in some time of difficulty, know that your pastor has e-mail, a web-site (www.fr-ed-namiotka.com), a Facebook account, and can be reached by the good old telephone!
Know, also, that you are remembered in my prayers!
Fr. Ed Namiotka