Requiring Holiness

It is 11:45 the night before I have an 8-10 page paper due on Genesis at the start of my 10 a.m. class.  I just finished it :)  You may think that’s bad—but I probably wouldn’t be too far off if I guessed that some of my classmates are just sitting down at their computers to knock out the remaining 6 pages they have yet to complete on theirs.

In my age group, authority and rules generally aren’t looked upon too favorably.  We are a group that likes to do things on our own—an independent people that doesn’t like to be told what to do.  We are told to start our papers early, to not procrastinate.  But instead, we opt for the thrill of the all-nighter.

There are certainly some admirable things about this trait.  For the most part, you can’t walk all over people in the college demographic.  We don’t just blindly follow orders; we need a good enough reason.  This is a very good quality to have.  The courage to ask questions is something that can take you far in life.  However, there are also many negative consequences that come with this sort of scorn for authority (like the headache you have the morning after the all-nighter :P).

I am very blessed to be able to attend a Catholic University in which the love of the Lord and the Sacraments of the Catholic Faith are central to everything we do.  They are so central, in fact, that the administration actually requires us to do things like:

  • (1) weekly attendance at Wednesday afternoon mass and
  • (2) an hour of time spent in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel each week.

A lot of people may look at this and scoff.  We’re big boys and girls—legally adults, in fact.  Who does this school think it is to require us to do things like this?

It’s actually sort of funny, because I inadvertently found an answer to this question while researching for that paper on Genesis I was talking about earlier.  In discussing the seventh day of creation, on which God rested (and commanded us all to do the same), Catholic author Scott Hahn wrote this: “the Father mandates our sanctification and blessing.  He commands us to be saints in order to enjoy communion with him forever” (A Father Who Keeps His Promises).

A loving father doesn’t set rules for his children simply for his own entertainment (although sometimes we might feel that way :P).  He really sets rules and gives them responsibilities for their own good, so that they might be happy in the long run, and avoid things that will ultimately lead to their unhappiness.

I would love to say that all of the students at my university don’t really see these requirements as a burden—that we would always choose to go to daily mass and set aside time for prayer on our own anyway, so we’re happy to comply.  But that’s not really the case.  There are often times when that hour we have set aside for prayer in the chapel during our week would seem much better spent catching up on sleep back in our apartments, or going out to eat with friends.

But it’s exactly times like these when I am most thankful for the rules.

Because it is times like these in which I am essentially saying that my relationship with God is a burden.  That it’s great when I have the time, but when I don’t, it’s okay to put Him on the back-burner.  It wouldn’t be okay to do this in any of my other relationships, so why should God be the exception?  So I am thankful to have the rules to pull me back to God.  And I pray that, after 3 years of these rules, they go from being something that is required of me by my university, to something that I require of myself because I recognize God’s invitation in them.

For God requires our holiness not for His own benefit—He doesn’t need us.  He requires our holiness so that we might enjoy communion with Him—the one who made us, the one who knows better than even ourselves what will make us happy—so that we might enjoy communion with Him forever.