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A new year’s transformation

Katharine Barrett | Thursday, October 11, 2012

Have you ever walked down the quad or through a hallway to a classroom and wondered, “Can’t they tell?” Have you ever felt so changed, so transformed inside that you’re shocked to realize it isn’t written all over your face? Maybe you just heard that your sister and brother-in-law are going to have a baby or you were accepted into grad school, and you think, “How can this stunningly awesome turn of events not be completely obvious to everyone around me?”
Sadly, we also sometimes feel this in a moment of pain or sadness after a tragedy like the death of a close friend or family member. My niece recently wrote about the death of her cousin, “The world continued as if it hadn’t just lost one of the really special people, one of the people who doesn’t come along very often. I wanted to scream at my teachers that piece-wise functions and ionic bonds didn’t matter when Bjorn was gone. Who cares about the proper use of commas when Bjorn is gone?” We marvel that the world – or at least that person who just said hello to us – can’t immediately see that our insides have just been put through a cross-cut shredder.

Other times we can’t keep the tears from streaming down our face or wipe off the big dopey grin that insists on returning no matter how hard we try to control it, thereby revealing our inner selves for all to see.  

Beginning today, you are officially invited to a time of transformation.  Not of your outside appearance (a plethora of over-the-counter grooming products can take care of that just fine), but of your heart. The One who loves you more completely and intimately than anyone in the world invites you. Through the Church all over the world, and right here at Notre Dame through Campus Ministry, God asks you – dares you – to open up this year to a new commitment to who you are on the inside.

Today, Oct. 11, begins an official “Year of Faith” for Catholic Christians worldwide. Starting today, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, be bold enough to take on the challenge to venture deeper into your faith. Listen more carefully to God’s voice in your life, act on what you hear, discover who you are and what you believe in, explore the questions and uncertainties you’ve felt about your beliefs, engage your heart as you seek answers and experience a fuller sense of God’s constant presence in every moment of every day.

At Notre Dame, we know how to go big. We can do big football weekends – hey, we can even do “College GameDay.” We can do big stress at mid-terms and finals. We can do big parties for JPW and Commencement, big Masses for Frosh-O and Baccalaureate. We can do big trips to Dublin and Chicago, to Montreal, Washington, D.C., and Appalachia. So in Campus Ministry when we first heard about the Year of Faith, we thought, “We’ll go big! Big events! Big excitement! Big opportunities to transform our faith lives!”

Funny enough though, for this Year of Faith we decided we’d like to invite you to go small. We’ve planned a year of ways to focus on our faith that’s, well, full of the small stuff – because sometimes small stuff sticks better than big. Just like a tiny piece of lint will cling to your sweater with ferocious determination even while that big water bottle can’t seem to stop falling out of your backpack, we in Campus Ministry hope that you’ll try some tiny but mighty things each month of the coming year. These tasks are small enough that you can stick with them and mighty enough to become habits that will stick with you over the long haul.

Whether it will be obvious by looking at you or not, you have a new year’s opportunity to know, love and serve God more deeply – to become transformed, to start a revolution in your own heart and mind, to go big by going small. Visit our website at campusministry.nd.edu and click on “Year of Faith” to find out more.

Katharine Barrett is the director of the Emmaus program at Campus Ministry. She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.