Saturday, February 12, 2011

Father Valentine

Just had the privilege of an interview with Michael Dixon, host of "The Bishop's Hour," which is a local-interest radio show produced here in Phoenix by Immaculate Heart Radio.
SPOILER ALERT! If you want to wait to hear the interview afresh, it will be on Monday, February 14th, at 10 am on 1310 AM in Phoenix.
But otherwise, I'll tell you what we spoke about: Love, baby, love (In honor of Valentine's Day). He asked about my experiences working with young couples preparing for marriage, as well as my work with college students. My basic refrain was this: as a Catholic priest, I encourage young people to embrace the greatness of love. In a youth culture in which dating is non-existent because emotional and physical promiscuity is the norm, young people need great encouragement.
Of course, the greatness of love between a man and woman is demands the greatness of commitment, sacrifice, and selflessness. As I told Michael, many young people either don't know this, or fear it. I feel I spend half my time with engaged couples speaking about what marital love is...and the other half of my time telling them not to be afraid of how great love really is. When I speak to engaged couples of the Church's vision for conjugal love, I usually see on their faces equal parts hope, fascination, and fear...that it's simply too great, beyond them.
Once a young man who was considering a vocation to the priesthood said to me: "Father, don't know if I could be a priest. I love marriage too much."
My response surprised him, I think, as I shot back: "Good! Priests need to love marriage more than anyone else. I spend a great deal of my life encouraging young men and women to love marriage as much as I do."
After all, St. Valentine was a priest, wasn't he? Happy Valentine's Day, all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2011 musings

Whoa, time flies. I was hanging out this evening with some college students. One of them said that she had left some comments on my blog. My immediate thought was, "My what?" The time to blog is upon me, without a doubt.

The great tidal wave of university life has been taking me along a fascinating ride thus far. In general, I feel as though I am still getting a feel for my role as a priest in the world of ASU.

But there have been so many wonderful moments. Students react and grow so fast to things that we as priests say and do. Some students that I met in the fall, honestly, I hardly recognize, so much have they grown and changed (for the better, I think). It's less a testament to our job as priests, and more to students' malleability and God's grace at this time of their lives.

Yesterday, my day off, I was walking "incognito" around some parts of campus I had not seen yet. I was simply observing the students walk around. There is a strange sadness here, a malaise--even on a bright sunny day as students walk around the "farmer's market." A report I saw the other day said that 43% of college students struggle with depression. Wierd, that statistic kept popping into my mind as I spectated a normal Tuesday afternoon at ASU.

Then the words of Our Lord seemed to respond: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full!" There is so much promise of "fun" in college, perhaps especially at this college. Is there a promise of joy, though? Does that promise mean anything to students today? Many of the students I have had the privilege of working with so far this year do, I believe, know what joy is, on some level--the joy of knowing God--and are hungry to seek and follow this joy wherever it leads them, even if the cost is great. But it must be real.