COVINGTON, La. - The time is now for young Catholics to claim the holiness they received at baptism and to live lives of purpose, rather than deferring their life's mission to some vague time in the future," said Father Mike Schmitz
, addressing 4,700 young people assembled at St. Joseph Seminary grounds March 21 for Abbey Youth Fest.
I'm disqualified," said Father Schmitz, chaplain of the University of Minnesota in Duluth.
"The reality is that a lot of times we disqualify ourselves because we don't know what it is to be holy," he
said, noting that this defeatist attitude toward holiness is especially prevalent in the United States, a culture obsessed with performance and competition.
"Holiness is not perfection," Father Schmitz
"To be holy is not the same thing as having the letters 'S-T-period' in front of your name; holiness is not just performing certain religious things" like all-night vigils, multiple rosaries and daily fasting.
said God claims his
children right now.
"If you've been baptized, you are already holy!
not waiting for you to score the winning goal; he's
not waiting for you to perform; he's
not waiting for you to be 'better'; and that thing you're struggling with, that maybe no one else knows about?
not waiting for you to beat that in order to claim you.
already set you apart for a purpose."
To hammer home his
point, Father Schmitz
displayed a priest's chalice, a vessel which despite its dulled luster and dents had been set apart for a holy purpose: holding the precious blood of Christ.
has observed in his
ministry as a college chaplain that although there exist many young "people of mission" who strive to live lives of purpose - by going to Mass, cultivating prayer and helping neighbors in need - too many use their youth as an excuse to drift through life.
They typically say, "I don't know why I did that" when pressed on what led them to sublimate their holiness and choose bad behaviors.
"A lot of times we live on accident," said Father Schmitz
, citing biblical examples of people who lived lives of purpose from a young age.
King David of the Old Testament is one who embraced his
mission early on by using his
work as a protective shepherd as preparation to slay Goliath, he
"So often, when someone's just a kid, even if they've been given the power of the Holy Spirit, even if they've been given a mission, even if they've been given a life that's supposed to be lived on purpose, they say, 'Later on I'll start living on purpose; later on I'll start living on mission; later on I'll start living with meaning,'" Father Schmitz
Do you want to live with a mission or do you want to live just drifting through life?'" Father Schmitz
said, turning his
attention to the young people before him.