This post has been republished with permission from the Cowboy Catholic blog.
The January of my sophomore year in college, I encountered Jesus.
I was a member of Gamma Phi Beta at Missouri State when I was invited to attend a FOCUS conference by a missionary at the time who was, not so coincidentally, an alumna of Gamma Phi. Eventually, I took her up on the offer — and everything changed. Encountering Jesus flipped my world upside down in the best way. I had found a more true sense of home, one that my sorority had literally led me to. That next fall semester, I transferred to Kansas State University. I knew that I had two things I was looking for: a Catholic church near campus and Gamma Phi.
K-State had both, and I couldn’t have been more thankful. At first, I struggled for a while with feeling like I had to be a part of two worlds — my faith world and my sorority world — but eventually I realized I didn’t have to separate the two. There were women in my sorority who went to Mass with me, who were living out their faith and who encouraged me to continue to grow in mine.
If you are concerned about following your faith in college and going through recruitment, please don’t fear. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Other women love Jesus too.
There are some seriously scandalous stereotypes about the Greek system floating around in our culture today. It seems like every few years there is a string of TV shows or movies that portray fraternity and sorority life as this huge wild party where girls are catty, promiscuity is basically a badge of honor and alcohol consumption is out of this world (sometimes that’s the party’s theme). I’m here to tell you that those are the most extreme cases of this system.
If you didn’t know, most Greek letter chapters were founded on Christian morals and virtues. That may have become a little fuzzy over the years, but trust me, they’re there! When I joined Gamma Phi Beta, there were always women that were going to Mass on a regular basis and even attending a weekly Bible study. After I transferred to K-State, one of my sisters even helped me start a Bible study in the house! There are women in those chapters who love Jesus too, and I’ll bet they aren’t as hard to find as you might think.
2. Be uncompromising.
College life opens us up to new ideas. When we’re young and getting to know new environments and people, those things can expose us to new ideas or ways of living. The exposure of those lifestyles can lead us in one direction or another. We can either turn away from what we know is good, or we can be “uncompromising.”
Pope St. John Paul II once said, “Young people of every continent, do not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium!” JPll has always been a big inspiration for me, and when I was reminded of his words, it lit a fire in my heart. It made me truly desire to be a saint, a great saint!
I encourage you to sit with JPll’s words. Let them sink into your heart and ask the Lord what it means for you. When He tells you how He is inviting you to do that, know that you have the capacity to say “yes” to things that bring you closer to that goal and “no” to things that will lead you in the other direction.
3. Be in the world, not of it.
We are not made for this world. We are made for heaven. But right now, we are here on Earth. Though it was once a place God created for us to live in paradise, the Fall happened and sin entered the world. From then until now, we have been fighting for the good, falling and getting back up again. But sin doesn’t quit. It tempts us with flashy pleasures that make promises of a life that is fulfilled and exciting. But it’s all smoke and mirrors. Trust me, I’ve been there.
This famous statement has often been attributed to Pope Benedict XVl: “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” When we accept this truth, we are not called to shut the world out, but to be filled by Jesus in prayer and the sacraments and then go back out into the world to share Jesus’ love and mercy with others.
When we strive for a life that enters into the world to love others, people notice. The women in your sorority will notice something about you, something that is different. When they ask questions you can start to give them answers. Others will begin to trust you because of the love and mercy you show in your life. We have the responsibility to show our brothers and sisters where the true fulfillment is when they are lost.
Taking these things into consideration, I want to remind you that that you are made for greatness. There isn’t anything to be nervous about when you are rooted in Jesus Christ. The best news about going through recruitment is that you don’t have to choose one or the other. Jesus wants you to be His light wherever you go.