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I'm Back...No Break Intended: Let's Get Down to Some Franciscan Business

Hello Again! Long time no see...or I guess long time no words. Though I did not intend to neglect A Merry Little Life, my absence from this platform was not without reason I was adjusting to the beauty that is Franciscan University of Steubenville. Summer went faster than I could have imagined and I started my first semester at a university which I knew I would love, but never could have imagined how much I would love it. Get ready for a mushy post because that's what's ahead.

I moved in on August 18 or 19. It was a lot of climbing stairs since my dorm, St. Agnes has no elevator. My dorm used to be a Super 8. Therefore, my room had a full sized beds and a bathroom. Unfortunately, this also means clothing storage (and storage in general) was scarce. Though the dorm did provide Ikea standing closets if you requested one, which I did. (it broke midsemesterish sadly). My roommate, Emma and I also had to share the desk throughout the semester. This was easy as most of the time we did work on our beds, though each of us used the desk occasionally.

Emma and I standing next to our residence hall this summer.

I loved rooming with Emma. I can honestly say rooming with her she was the best rooming experience I have had so far in my college career. We had several similar interests. We both loved reading books and loved the classics. One of the first things we did as roommates was actually have a movie night where we watched an adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. We once in awhile ate meals together too. It was always nice eating with her even if the cafeteria food was questionable. She was open and honest, yet willing to help me with what I needed help with. We also went to some similar clubs, board game club and Juventutem. These were great ways to get to know each other as well as spend time doing things that weren't school work. We would also go to mass together at times. She also is a pretty great cook (she cooked for her friends on her birthday). I can't wait to see where God takes her (which may be Austria). Now, my experience rooming with Emma highlights some of the highlights of Franciscan time to talk about those.

First, of all, the campus is bursting with Catholicism. Franciscan has Mass five times a day everyday. I started the semester getting up to be a sacristan at the 8am in the campus chapel, Christ the King Chapel. However, I eventually gave it up upon reflection with my counselor (and because of some growth in my spiritual life). THough the Chapel did also provide me with the Marian Shrine. This beautiful space honors the Blessed Virgin, our Mother, Mary. It was such a nice place to pray the Rosary in which I did often (but more on that later). This Shrine was also a wonderful place to sit and pray even if wasn't the Rosary, but I honestly didn't pray there often other than the Rosary. Yet, next semester I will be able to grow in my use of this beautiful place.

One of my absolute favorite places on campus is the Portiuncula chapel (the Port) where Adoration of the blessed Lord occurs 24/7 throughout the semester. I loved sitting with Jesus and praying or allowing him to gaze at me (even if it was difficult...and it was). I came to learn many things about me in the time spent at the Port and grew a little in the virtue of silence (but I need to work on this virtue still especially in conversations with others). Near by the Port, the Marian Grotto was another wonderful place to pray. It was nice to sit in the outdoors and venerate the statue of Mary and speak with my mother. I got the chance to pray the Rosary there as well quite often. Also near the Port was a creche or manger scene where I did pray a couple of times, mostly the Rosary again...yeah I prayed the Rosary a lot this semester. Talking about the Rosary...this semester I learned how to say the Rosary in Latin.

Every Friday (or mostly every Friday) I would say the Latin Rosary with Juventutem. Juventutem is a group of wonderful young Catholics on Franciscan's campus whom go to the Latin mass and practice traditional Catholicism. Honestly, many of my friends are from this group. Learning the Latin Rosary was amazing. I prefer saying this wonderful Marian devotion in Latin though I am still getting the Credo (Creed) memorized. Also because of this group I have started going to Latin Mass .The Latin Mass had nourished my faith more than I can say so it will get its own dedicated post. This Mass was not what I grew up with but I wish I had for from the first one that I went to to now each Mass feels as if Heaven truly coming to earth (and not just because the Eucharist is there). Thanks to the generosity of several members of this group who had vehicles, I was able to go to Latin Mass both daily and on Sunday. I have also loved doing Compline (Night prayer) every Sunday (well, most) with these wonderful people (including Emma). Then I would go and get corndogs at the cafeteria with many of my gal friends from the Club. Now this was not the only student group I joined. But first a picture:

After Mass selfie with some of my Juventutem friends.Yes if you look closely my eyes are closed. Back row: Andrew, Donovan, Gabi, Hollieann Middle Row (From left): Sophia, Mary (me) Front Row:Jake Photo Credit: Jake

Another club that I greatly enjoyed at Franciscan was Chesterton Society. This club met every other Thursday. One of the club's presidents, my friend, Cara yelled at me one Thursday night and the rest is history. The club meets, reads a work of G.K. Chesterton, and then discusses said work. My favorite meeting was the one where we read and discussed "Cheese", an essay that Chesterton wrote about cheese. It really made me contemplate the simple things in life, like cheese. It also taught me that Chesterton wasn't necessarily a fan of all the modern elements of his day. Chesterton definitely would not approve of easy cheese (unfortunately most children would disagree with him). Another favorite meeting was when we read and discussed "Lepanto". This poem was written as a tribute and remembrance of the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto. This battle was an underdog victory of the Christians over the Ottoman Turks at Lepanto in 1571. This battle was a victory attributed to the Power of the Rosary for the Pope at the time, Pope Pius V asked that all Christians pray the rosary for the victory of the Christian fleet though it was vastly outnumbered. The victory occurred on October 7 which was then declared "The Feast of Our Lady of Victory" and then eventually "The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary". Reading this beautiful tribute to an instrumental part of Catholic Christian history taught me that I must understand the history of the feast so I may better appreciate the meaning of it. While Chesterton got me going philosophical, on Fridays I took a break from the intellectual thought (sort of) to play some games.

Board Game club became an occasional diversion from the school week. I would go and relax and play games with so many people. I made a few acquaintances and friends from this club. One of my favorite weeks on this club was actually the first week of this club. I played a game called "Pandemic" which I had previously played. This board game requires the players to work together to play against the game. They must try to cure four diseases before one of three things happen:

  1. They have 8 disease outbreaks (for any of the diseases)

  2. Not enough disease cubes (which represent infection) are left when a certain disease affects a city

  3. Not enough player cards (either have cities or actions that can be taken on them) remain.

This is a fun game to play for as we are living in a (post-) covid world the game is like the board game version of what is going on in reality. Oh and yes my team of players beat the game in the nick of time. Another night I played a game called Snake oil where you had to pitch a product that you made up from cards in your hand to another player. The other player had a certain persona such as a beach bum or ninja. This game was interesting because you had to consider which of two of seven card to combine (there were words on the card). Admist the game I may have made my friend Owen questions (jokingly) if I was ok. Aside from this club, I also participated or tried to participate in some ministries around campus.

I joined Encounter Steubenville. This group takes about 2 or 2 1/2 hours every Sunday and goes around Steubneville, OH door knocking in order to get to know the community. I gained a lot from this ministry despite having to stop going near the end of the semester. I plan on resuming my involvement come January. The few times I did participate I realized how in need of the Gospel and the Lord so many are. I realized that we need to meet people where they are at and love them as who they are. Connected to loving people as they are, includes respecting their lives even from the time in the womb.

Early on in the semester I went to a sidewalk counselor training put on by the Students for Life Chapter on campus. Sidewalk counseling entails standing outside of an abortion clinic attempting to educate women (and others) entering what goes on in there. Its purpose is to reach out and let them know about resources they can tap into that are alternatives to what the abortion clinic provides. The main goal is to point any women or person to the local pregnancy and hopefully prevent the end of the child's life inside the mother's womb. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of the weekends of ministry this past semester, but hope to be able to come spring semester in January.

Group photo after the completion of Sidewalk Counselor training

Now as my primary vocation right now is student It has come time for me to discuss my classes. This first semester entailed my taking of: Advanced Composition I, Introduction to Catechetics and Evangelization, Survey of Biology, Christian Moral Principles, and Studies in Brit LIt: Tolkien By far my favorite class was Tolkien. This course covered the life and writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. It was fascinating to learn how Tolkien created his world in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I was reading these works for the first time, so it was an honor to learn the history behind these stories. Tolkien's talent at imbuing Catholicism into his work implicitly captivated me. One thing that I noticed is that in Hobbit culture 33 is the age of manhood. This age is significant because Catholic 101 is that Christ died at 33. While Tolkien may not had that in mind (though I wonder if he did), it's the connection still fascinates me.

My hardest class was Christian Moral Principles. I did truly enjoy the content, but there was just a lot of it. I ended up falling behind in this class as well. Though I pulled through the semester with a B (hooray!). One of the most surprising things I learned in this class was that there are many figures in Catholic history I had no idea about. One such figure, William of Ockham, put forth a way of looking at conscience and sin a merely transgressed laws and that everything depended on circumstances when looking at morality. I also enjoyed the professor who was one of the friars on campus. I still wonder if someone brought him as cigar would that student have gotten an automatic a? Ok just joking. But this priest/professor was very funny and friendly. It was a joy to be in his class.

There's not much to say about biology. It was a stereotypical bio class I would say. Though Catholic teaching was spoken of during this class. The one thing I do wonder is why I never got a response from the professor about whether or not Humani Generis (an encyclical letter by Pope Pius XII should be used to support theistic evolution. In my personal opinion, at best this letter to the church expresses support for investigation into the Theory of evolution but not support for the theory itself.

Advanced Composition I had me researching foreign aid and abortion all semester. I greatly enjoyed doing so. I got a lot of shocks though in choosing to research this. One of the largest was that some Christian denominations subscribe to a sort of progressive ensoulment and therefore do not necessarily disagree with abortion at a certain time. I also learned that in previous years in Africa, contraception outlawed in the U.S. has been given to women. This seems wrong to me at least. However, the one thing about researching this topic that really made me think was that anyone who supports aid given to underdeveloped countries that includes abortion or contraception coverage does not seem to have inquired whether these people actually want it. Now, enough of this. Let's cover my last course.

The Introduction to Catechetics and Evangelization course provides the foundation for my Catechetics major or is the intro course for it as per the title. This class gave me a better understanding of the grounding of the program in Christ. I was also able to prepare a witness and give it to the class. I will say I should have practiced more and perfected it more, but overall it went well. I cannot wait to see what the other catechetics courses are like. But this one was a good start.

Overall, Franciscan was been a wonderful experience for me. I do at times miss the Ball State Newman center, but that's only natural. I may not be following my original plan for doing only four years of college, but if this is God's will I am willing to do it. His plans are better for me than I could ever imagine. Thanks to all who made my first semester at Franciscan so amazing. May the rest of the Advent Season bless all who read this abundantly. St. Francis fo Assisi, Pray. Mary, Mother of God pray for us.


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