The desired outcome of a Catholic education is an educated Catholic. And yet, what emerges from Catholic education these days is not always an educated Catholic. While one can blame the institutions for their lack of academics or lack of Catholic identity, a less than successful outcome can also be the student’s lack of effort or focus. How can Catholic students know if they are on track for success?
For the past two decades plus, I have taught either high schools seniors or college freshmen at Catholic schools. I think it comes down to two habits. Cultivate them, and you are very likely to succeed. Abandon them, and you will most likely flounder.
1. Sometime in mid-spring, I would stare down my high school seniors and say that the most important habit they need in college (and also the most important habit for them to look for in a Catholic spouse) is frequent confession.
Is confession the most important sacrament? After the gateway of Baptism, most theologians speak of the Eucharist as the “Sacrament most holy.” Is confession more important than prayer? Most spiritual writers speak of prayer as an essential habit. Why then, do I insist on confession?
Because I don’t know anyone who has the habit of frequent confession who blows off his prayer life, or who lacks Eucharistic devotion. It’s a habit that is easily measured (every two weeks seems a good suggested frequency; your soul certainly needs cleaning at least as often as your room) and I can honestly tell you that, when confession begins to falter, other things like prayer or Eucharistic life tend to slack off as well. It makes sense. When we stop taking our meds, our disease progresses. We are all terminally ill with sin. We need God’s healing grace to stay on track toward heaven. read more