A Soldier for Christ - Cardinal Newman Society

A Soldier for Christ

Editor’s Note: The Cardinal Newman Society recently announced its third annual Essay Scholarship Contest with a $5,000 prize for high school seniors who have signed up for its Recruit Me program.  Essays and applications are due by February 18, 2019.  Last year, the Contest asked students to reflect on the question, “How will a faithful Catholic college education prepare you for life?” The Newman Society received many impressive responses and will be posting some of the runner-up entries, including the one below by Maylee Brown of Iowa who is now a freshman at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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The little boy’s eyes sparkle as he watches the fierce warriors dining in the warm castle hall. Their chain mail glints off the flickering candles as the boy resolutely walks over to the battle master.

“Good sir,” says the boy, “I too want to become a knight!”

“Wonderful,” says the battle master. “We can knight you tomorrow morning at nine!”

Confusion? Of course. No boy goes from citizen to knight in one day, from peasant to soldier without adequate training. In the same way, the soldiers for Christ do not go from onlookers to warriors without preparation. If we are to have any future success fighting alongside Christ, we must be formed, and the training yard is a faithful Catholic college. A solid Catholic education would greatly prepare me for a life as Christ’s soldier by deepening my knowledge of the faith, strengthening my faith, and providing me with a solid community of faith.

Studying at a Catholic college which strives to abide by the ideals set forth in Pope St. John Paul II’s Ex corde Ecclesiae would greatly equip me for the future by flooding me with knowledge about my Catholic faith. The truths I have learned in high school about typology, the Old Testament roots of the Eucharist, and Marian Consecration, for example, have led me to thirst more and more for a greater understanding of the beauty of Catholicism. As a prospective theology major, I believe that a Catholic college is the only college that can deeply quench this thirst for the truth. Through Christ-centered classes, the knowledge of my faith will blossom, greatly preparing me for a life of service to Christ as a youth minister or a high school theology teacher.

“Above all, to fulfill this mission the Church is entrusting to you requires that you cultivate a genuine life of prayer nourished by the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession.” Responding to this commission from St. John Paul II would be abundantly possible in the environment of a Catholic college. The sacraments available at a Catholic college will nurture my soul and, by their very nature, increase God’s life within it. Catholic colleges emphasize the importance of receiving through giving and loving through sacrifice, which are counter-cultural messages that college students desperately need to understand. While many young Christians lose their faith at college, education at a Catholic college often produces the opposite result: a faith that, upon graduation, has been greatly enriched, not abandoned.

St. Maximilian Kolbe said, “God sends us friends to be our firm support in the whirlpool of struggle. In the company of friends we will find strength to attain our sublime ideal.” By attending a Catholic college, I would form powerful relationships centered on Christ. Being surrounded by friends, mentors, advocates, and professors who look to Jesus for strength and guidance would be faith-affirming and provide a hope-filled backdrop in which to thrive. I would be forever surrounded by a strong community of faith to support me throughout my life. I greatly desire these deep friendships that withstand hardships and challenge each other to become saints, and I am convinced that there would be abundant opportunities for meeting people of character and faith at a Catholic college. The deep, Christ-centered friendships found at a solid Catholic school will be an essential part of my future.

In conclusion, an education at a faithful Catholic college would be simply the best way to prepare for life. By educating me in my faith through profound theology courses, nourishing and strengthening my faith through the sacraments, and creating the opportunity to form powerful, faithful friendships, I would graduate ready to set the world on fire. As John Paul II said, “The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting to you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with Him in the building of the civilization of love.”

The little boy, once weak and naive, kneels before the altar as the sword touches both his shoulders, strong and capable. He is not only inspired to fight for justice, defend the widow, and seek the truth, but now capable of actually doing so. His training has paid off. Onward soldier!

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