Advice for a Young Catholic Woman on Choosing a College
You may go to a school that gives good Christian formation, but if you live in what was formerly known as the West, you are immersed outside of your school in a toxic waste dump of a “culture.”
Dear Edith Teresa:
Some good friends asked me to give you some advice about how you can become both a well-formed and informed young woman as you grow out of adolescence into adulthood. This is a big challenge indeed, because even though, Edith, you may go to a school that gives good Christian formation, if you live in what was formerly known as the West, you are immersed outside of your school (though hopefully not in your family) in a toxic waste dump of a “culture.” Since I am addressing you one to one, let me give you some advice.
First, talk to your history, English literature, and religion teachers at school (assuming they are serious Catholics) and ask them for a sizeable list of books accessible to you and in their specialty that can help you over time to become a well-formed Catholic secure in her faith and capable of both defending and spreading the Faith and Western culture to your friends in college and eventually within your own family. Obviously, know (and live!) your Faith the best you can, but you also should gradually grow in your knowledge of quality literature, art, music, and cinema. These will refine your taste and help you to sort out the garbage from the exquisite from a Christian point of view.
Second, ask some adults you trust and admire to recommend reliable magazines, journals and websites that can provide you with a sober and sound viewpoint on contemporary issues from a faithful Catholic perspective.
Third, watch as little television as humanly possible, limit your online time, avoid cliques and popularity contests, and rein in your desire for aimlessly adding to your collection of things. Watch what you wear and the effect it may have on the opposite sex, taking as your model women who have learned to distinguish between being attractive and being provocative. Along with your intellectual interests, there is the world of nature outside your door, the joys of physical exercise and sport, all in the context of healthy and supportive female friendships. Always have a book or two at your side, preferably classics of Western (our culture) literature or world history, beginning with the United States and then turning to what was once Christian Europe.
Fourth, a very important question is your (and your parents!) choice of college. This decision will largely determine the future path of your life. Strongly consider attending a small liberal arts Catholic college with a core-curriculum. You can always go to a top-flight public or private university for graduate degrees. At a sound Catholic college you will receive an excellent all-around education with small classroom size and a healthy moral atmosphere; in addition, you will make strong friendships that will last a lifetime. You may also very well meet there your future spouse, who will be your best lifetime friend as well as the father of your children (your greatest contribution to the New Evangelization). Or you may come to recognize instead a higher calling to the religious life, or a more complete dedication as a celibate lay member of one of the new ecclesial realities that are the heralds of the “new springtime” of the Church in this new century.
If for one reason or other you choose a public university (ugh) or a private non-Catholic college, make sure that there is a solid Newman Club on campus where you can find formation, sacramental life, and fellowship. You may already have a spiritual relationship with a Catholic institution and you might try to choose a college where they have a presence to continue receiving that invaluable help. Whatever you do, NEVER stay in a co-ed dormitory. Nothing good happens there.
Oh, and yes, do find some time for daily prayer, spiritual reading, and weekly sacramental life as you complete your high school years. The Holy Spirit is a sure Truth Finder! A good spiritual fitness trainer can help you there. Hope all this helps; if you have any further questions, just mail me.
Robert Kenefick is an occasional writer from the Washington D.C. area
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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