"It's hard to be Catholic on campus, isn't it?"
That's how my talk started during our weekly Gathering last night, and as soon as the words left my mouth attentions were grabbed, heads started nodding, sighs escaped. It was a bigger reaction than even I was anticipating, and the rest of our talk went accordingly.
If you were there, you know what I said.
If you weren't, here's the gist: It's hard to be a Catholic on campus. But it's okay. Read on.
During our "Bible-ish Things" segment (in which Jay was the first to find the reading of the day and therefore triumphantly won a bottle of laundry detergent from the prize bucket, see above), we read from the book of Wisdom, a long-ish section from 1:16-2:24. In it, the author talks about how the righteous are an inconvenience to the wicked, and how the wicked respond to that inconvenience with jeers and embarrassment and anger. We talked about how the book of Hebrews, it can be argued, was written for a community experiencing not physical persecution in the Early Church, but social persecution. We talked about how that's a legit thing, and that it's not disingenuous to feel troubled over social persecution.
But we also talked about the good news: that we know how this ends, because Jesus already showed us what happens when you're terribly inconvenient to the culture of the day and they try to get you out of the way; and that we have a tool within the Mass that we've been using for years and probably never even realized.
That tool is The Greeting. It's the second thing we do at Mass, when the priest says "The Lord be with you" and we respond "And with your Spirit". Do you realize the background to this phrase? "The Lord be with you" is what almost every Biblical hero hears right before they're told to do something completely insane for God. It's a bit of a daunting greeting, but it's also an assurance: "The Lord be with you...He will be with you, like he was with Moses in Egypt and Gideon in the Promised Land and Mary in the middle of extreme social awkwardness".
So, I proposed, we should say the same to one another as we see each other between classes, in the DC, out and about. But because it might cause even more inconvenience and discomfort to flat out yell "THE LORD BE WITH YOU" across Appian Way, we're going to put the "Roman" in "Roman Catholic" and say it in Latin:
Et cum spiritu tuo!
This is our greeting, our assurance, our comfort, and even--if it needs to be--our battle cry.
Because if the Lord was with Moses as he walked into the Pharoah's court to demand freedom for his people, and with Gideon as he approached the army of Midianites and Mary as she stared down the disgrace of an unplanned teenage pregnancy, surely He will be with you too in whatever you face.
P.S. The graphic at the top of this post (and in the sidebar) is a downloadable phone background for you, in case you need a reminder of the words!