This weekend, our Church had the great fortune of welcoming thousands of new members into the body of Christ through the sacrament of baptism. For many, it was the culmination of a process that took many months, if not years, and will forever change their lives: now, they will forever have the mark of Christ on their souls.

Sounds pretty great, right? It is.

But it does raise an interesting question: what actual effect does that mark have on our salvation? What I mean by this is, does one actually have to be baptized, as in, God won’t save them if they don’t enter the waters? And if this isn’t the case and God can save whomever God wants, then what difference does it make if we’re baptized?

Nuanced questions before us this week on Catholicism in Focus! I hope you had (are having!) a great Easter! He is Risen, Alleluia! Alleluia!

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The life of a friar is many things, but boring is not one of them. Not in a single day, and certainly not over a lifetime.

I think about my life already. Not even ordained a priest yet, still in studies, I have been on a mission trip to Nicaragua, worked for two months at a refugee center in Mexico, made a pilgrimage to Italy, Austria, and Germany, have given parish missions in 13 different states, and have been on five different road trips in which I traveled more than 1000 miles in a week. I get around.

And it makes me wonder what my future might hold. While there is no formal legislation as to how often I must move, it is not uncommon for friars to change ministries ever 6-9 years. Extend that over a lifetime, and we’re talking 6-10 completely different environments, likely resulting in 6-10 different careers.

And do you know what? If things aren’t working out and there’s a need elsewhere, friars can be transferred in three years or less.

No, friar life is not boring.

To all young people out there thinking about what you might do with your life, afraid to jump in because you’re worried about missing out on great things, let me tell you this: there is nothing lacking from my life. I get to serve God in tremendous, diverse, and unexpected ways, as a part of a brotherhood, doing and experiencing things that I wouldn’t have dreamed of outside of Order. My life is truly an adventure.

Are you looking for some adventure in your life? Maybe it’s time to have a conversation with our vocation director. He’s a nice guy who can help you with any questions you have, no matter where you are in your discernment.

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No, there is nothing wrong with your email subscription! There was no Catholicism In Focus on Monday, and since I was traveling yesterday I was unable to post the week’s podcast here. My apologies!

This week, Br. Tito and I discuss the issue of stereotypes in art and entertainment. What to we make of them? As always, there are good and bad examples of each, and how we approach them in our entertainment can say a lot about how we interact with each other in real life.

As friars, it is not uncommon for us to find ourselves in hospitals comforting people in tragic situations. Whether it be a patient with a troublesome diagnosis or a family dealing with the loss of a loved one, it is always difficult.

It is a very sad situation, made worse only by the fact that they are sometimes forced to make difficult decisions in the midst of their anguish. Should we continue treatment? Is it okay to remove life support? What should people of faith do in the face of death? Even for those who have studied moral theology and are completely disconnected from the situation, these can be difficult questions; add in the weight of personal sadness, and it can be debilitating.

But it doesn’t have to be so despairing. It doesn’t have to be soul-crushing.

While death is always tragic, I think that we compound our losses and make these decisions far more difficult than they already are because we wait until the point of death to even acknowledge that death is an inevitability. Many find themselves around a hospital bed having never even thought about death, let alone encountering it personally. They are forced to rationalize, theologize, and make ethical decisions for the first time, all in the midst of grief.

As seminarians, we hear it all the time from our pastoral theology professors: you can’t teach people when people are in the middle of a tragedy. You can’t reason with someone, explain to them that God loves their child, that we need to have hope in Christ, that death is normal and not the end when they’re overwhelmed with emotion. That is not the time to break down false conceptions of God. That is not the time for a lesson in moral theology. It is simply the time to be with them and offer them strength.

So when is the right time? How do we catechize appropriately before they find themselves in such situations?

How about by making a video on YouTube teaching about the ethical questions of end of life issues? Yeah, that seems like a good idea. It’s why I made this week’s video, and why I hope to make another video by the end of the semester on the common misconceptions of the sacrament of anointing, another topic that requires catechesis when it’s already too late.

It is a fact of life: we don’t stay “young” forever. If we are blessed enough to live a long life, we will inevitably find ourselves having less energy, unable to do the things we once could, and needing more help. For many of us, this is accompanied by more free time with family and friends, a time that we can rightly call our “golden years.”

But what about for friars who are so defined by our work and have chosen not to build families of our own? What happens to these men who grow old and infirm without a wife, children, or grandchildren by their side?

This was a major question I had in my discernment, one that almost prevented me from entering. Would I be lonely? I wondered.

Visiting one of our retirement houses this week, I was reminded of that old fear and how I overcame it. I was reminded of the great treasure that these men are to our order.

If you or someone you know is considering religious life and is worried about this issue, I pray that my experience may help. I cannot think of a more meaningful thing to do with one’s life, and I know that while I may never have the comfort of a wife and kids, I will always have this life to live and the brothers by my side to live it with me.