Wanting to live as a Catholic


#1

Hey all, I guess I’m just writing this post to get some advice and even if I don’t get any posts, I at least hope to organize my thoughts a little. Anyway, hear I go…

So, I guess you could say I’ve struggled with the “bad crowd”, although I don’t like that term because they can be great friends. Anyway, perhaps it’s because I’m a football player and the image we have that I found myself in the “party scene”. I should say that my faith has made a complete turn in the last year, and I want to live as a Catholic. The problem is I’m finding that getting rid of my “old ways” and trying to live Catholic is so very very difficult, especially when you attend Canada’s number one party school, on a “party” floor and everyone seems to be caught up in the bar scene first year.

My first approach was isolation. I told myself that I had to get away from these people and the partying would die down. It did, but then I fell. I did this several times, each time failing.

My last approach was the most successful, I isolated myself more by placing a “smoking ban” in my dorm room. Now all the potheads are gone, and suddenly I’m not their friends. Go figure. Then to help myself even more, I humbled myself with prayer. I guess the best news is that I now have a serious prayer life. This approach was working great, my studies have increased and I’m workingout as often as I should be. I felt great.

But then, just last night I fell again.

I had sworn to myself that I would never smoke pot again, so I’ve been hanging out with my team mates more often because we tend to stay away from pot because of the fear of random drug tests. Anyway, I was ridden with loneliness (even potheads can provide company) and when a couple of team mates of mine showed up to go out for a couple drinks, I was hesitant but couldn’t say no, especially since my one friend said it would just be a drink or two, and we’d be back before 12.

Well some 8 odd pitchers later (among friends) and around 2 in the morning, that didn’t seem to be the case.

So I guess I’m looking for advice. I can’t recall the last time I’ve gone out with friends and have a good time that didn’t involve substance abuse of some kind. This style has kinda carried on from high school and I want out! But the problem is, I just don’t know how to be myself without a beer or joint in my hand.
(and yes, I realize how stupid that sounds and I also realize that the drunk me is not the same as the real me)

One possibility is I fear I might suffer from social anxiety, but I feel that by even exploring that possibility I’m some how giving in and taking the easy way out. I say social anxiety because every time I’m in a crowd, sometimes even just the presence of 3 people can do it, and I just can’t function “normally”. I’m worried about what everyone else is thinking, I find myself always looking around the room trying to see if people are looking at me. Also , even if I’m in the company of the best of friends, as soon as were in a crowd all the sudden I’m silenced. I just don’t know what to say, but the thing is, all the sudden I can talk when I’m hye or drunk, but the problem is, that isn’t really me.

Another problem I have is that I use lies to cover up my reasons for quitting this lifestyle. I say I’ve quit drinking or I’ve quit smoking because of training or studying or because I can’t control myself. But I don’t have the strength to say I’ve quit because I find this abuse morally wrong. And that is the honest reason. I couldn’t handle the guilt I feel every time I woke up with a hangover or when I felt burnt-out the next day. Should I share that it’s my new found faith that’s turning me away from this lifestyle? I would share this, but I fear that would turn people away and I already have hard enough time with socializing.

And the last problem is the loneliness. Looking around residence, it seems that only the “shut-ins” (those that don’t go out of their rooms) are the only ones who don’t live this way. But during these past few weeks where I isolated myself, I couldn;t handle the loneliness and I guess that’s why I jumped at the possibility to go out last night despite knowing it wouldn’t be just a “few drinks”.

Oh and I’d like to hear what you think on confession? The thing is, I would hate to confess now because I fear that I may fall again and so I’m waiting until I’ve cleaned myself up before I confess. Is this the wrong approach?


#2

I don’t think isolation will work if it’s total isolation - from everyone. My first suggestion is finding others who live the faith life you want to. But from what you say a paragraph down that might not beso easy.

My last approach was the most successful, I isolated myself more by placing a “smoking ban” in my dorm room. Now all the potheads are gone, and suddenly I’m not their friends. Go figure. Then to help myself even more, I humbled myself with prayer. I guess the best news is that I now have a serious prayer life. This approach was working great, my studies have increased and I’m workingout as often as I should be. I felt great.

But then, just last night I fell again.

(…)

So I guess I’m looking for advice. I can’t recall the last time I’ve gone out with friends and have a good time that didn’t involve substance abuse of some kind. This style has kinda carried on from high school and I want out! But the problem is, I just don’t know how to be myself without a beer or joint in my hand.
(and yes, I realize how stupid that sounds and I also realize that the drunk me is not the same as the real me)

One possibility is I fear I might suffer from social anxiety, but I feel that by even exploring that possibility I’m some how giving in and taking the easy way out. I say social anxiety because every time I’m in a crowd, sometimes even just the presence of 3 people can do it, and I just can’t function “normally”. I’m worried about what everyone else is thinking, I find myself always looking around the room trying to see if people are looking at me. Also , even if I’m in the company of the best of friends, as soon as were in a crowd all the sudden I’m silenced. I just don’t know what to say, but the thing is, all the sudden I can talk when I’m hye or drunk, but the problem is, that isn’t really me.

Another problem I have is that I use lies to cover up my reasons for quitting this lifestyle. I say I’ve quit drinking or I’ve quit smoking because of training or studying or because I can’t control myself. But I don’t have the strength to say I’ve quit because I find this abuse morally wrong.

I think that’s okay - for now. When a person tries to change it makes others around him feel uncomfortable. In order to make themselves feel better they may resort to sabbotaging your effeorts, isolating you etc. Some may respect you deep down but never underestimate the pack mentality. As a group they might do and say things that individually they wouldn’t. So play it cool.

And that is the honest reason. I couldn’t handle the guilt I feel every time I woke up with a hangover or when I felt burnt-out the next day. Should I share that it’s my new found faith that’s turning me away from this lifestyle? I would share this, but I fear that would turn people away and I already have hard enough time with socializing.

And the last problem is the loneliness. Looking around residence, it seems that only the “shut-ins” (those that don’t go out of their rooms) are the only ones who don’t live this way. But during these past few weeks where I isolated myself, I couldn;t handle the loneliness and I guess that’s why I jumped at the possibility to go out last night despite knowing it wouldn’t be just a “few drinks”.

Oh and I’d like to hear what you think on confession? The thing is, I would hate to confess now because I fear that I may fall again and so I’m waiting until I’ve cleaned myself up before I confess. Is this the wrong approach?

Keep going to confession and, if possible, try different confessors untill you find one who might have some practical counsel for you. If it your intent is to not fall again the confession is valid and you will receive sacremental grace that will give you strength and begin to heal you.

Think of the virtue you are trying to live as a muscle that needs to be strengthened. Maybe it needs a little reahab first after an injury or overuse (mortal sin or habitual sin respectively). You need therapy (confession) rest (staying away from temptation -using the excuse or drug testing and training is away of “splinting the injured area”) and finally using good technique to avoid future injury (finding friends who will respect and support you even if they don’t go along with you or friends who live their faith but aren’t shut-ins; they are out there).

I have to get to Mass, I’ll add more later unless someone offers some real wisdom in the meantime. I will pray for you at Mass.


#3

Don’t assume that looking for professional help is taking an “easy way out”. I would say that you definitely need to learn what is keeping yourself from seeing you as an individual, rather than a member of a group.

It can be very hard to change your lifestyle, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall again. Just make an internal pledge to try harder. Pray more.

I definitely agree with the PP in finding a confessor who will do more than just listen and absolve you. You need to find someone who is willing to take the time to really give you spiritual guidance and encouragement.

And quite honestly, I would seriously think about other living arrangements for the coming school year (assuming you are not a senior). Even if it’s just another dorm. Just about every college has a dorm or two that it is well known NOT to be a party dorm. This might be the place for you, at least as a way to resist temptation. You might have to put up with a little ribbing from your friends/teammates about it, but the benefits to your soul far outweigh that. :slight_smile:

Keep praying and read your Bible frequently!

God bless and good luck!

Trish


#4

Thank you both for your posts. You don’t know how much I appreciate them.

Typically you live on your own after your first year. As of right now I’ve arranged to live with two friends, one who sells and the other who smokes way too often despite what he thinks. First things first, I know I have to get out of this. If I have to I guess I’ll rent a place for one…

On isolation - perhaps that’s too strong of a word. It’s not like I’m a hermit who flails his arms at anyone that trys to enter the room screaming “go away”. I guess just staying away from my old social group has left a sort of vaccum. I just feel lonely. I really do want some devout Catholic friends, I think that would be great. But I guess I’m under the influence of the stereotype that religious people are weirdos. I guess I just have to get over this. There is a Catholic group at the university, it’s just that I would literally know no one there, it would be a bit uncomfortable. Given my poor social skills this is very daunting task to me.

On anxiety - I have definitley improved over the years. I was really bad during my junior years of high school. I guess that’s how I got into this situation, it’s a lot easier to be social when I’m under the influence, and I just guess I made my friends that way.

And I welcome your prayers and really appreciate them. Like I said my prayer life is young and I have only just begun to realize the power of prayer. It’s helped clean my life significantly in other areas.

And I hope your mass was as fruitful as mine. The homily had a lot to do with my struggle.

Again, thank you so very much for taking the time to respond.


#5

The previous posters gave you excellent advice, so I don’t really have anything to add in that regard. Just remember that you wouldn’t even want to change your life if the Holy Spirit weren’t at work in you, so keep that in mind. God is drawing you closer to Himself, and He’ll pick you up when you fall --again and again. My prayers are with you!


#6

If we all waited till we “got it together” and “cleaned ourselves up” to confess our sins, many of us would never go. Confession is there to help you stop committing the sins you wish to avoid. You are genuinely sorry for them and you want to stop. That’s all you need. Let God help you with his sacraments. :slight_smile:

As far as feeling isolated, that’s not helpful to you. Do you have a parish you can go to, where you can attend mass regularly and meet some new friends? I graduated from one of the most notorious party schools in California, but I didn’t party much, even though most of the people in my dorm did. Why? Because I had a social life at my parish. I was involved in liturgical ministry, I was involved in my classes, and I was pretty satisfied. I was never all that close to most of my dorm neighbors. They probably thought I was weird. So what? The notions of “popularity” that we get in high school will not serve us well later on in life. I was happy and I was getting my education. Now I have my degree and all of my brain cells intact, to boot. Weirdness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. :slight_smile:

I have worked with high school seniors who are worried about “peer pressure” at party schools. I’ll tell them what I will tell you now. Do what you believe is right, where it is right, and that’s where you will make friends who have the same interests.

A party school is only as much of a party as you want it to be.


#7

I wish I was as insightful at your age as you are now. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache!! God Bless you for answering God’s call in your heart. You are maybe becoming aware that you are maturing faster than your “friends”.

Following God is not easy and I think you are going to have to do better to make positive changes in your life. If that means finding a new place to live, so be it. But God tells us in the Bible that he’d rather have us cut off our limbs then have them lead us into even the NEAR OCCASION of sin. Now that’s hyperbole, but I think it makes clear His point.

You definately have to get over your stereotype of “religious” people and get yourself to the Catholic center - is it a Newman Center? You also need to make sure you are getting catechized, I know in college that can be hard, but hanging out here once in a while and reading these forums would be a great start! But you are going to have to open yourself up to making a new set of friends. People at the Catholic Center don’t have to immediately be your “best buddies” but you do want to open yourself up to people that can provide an alternative means of socialization, if even only occasionally at first. Other parishes near your school might also have “Young Adult” ministries, “Theology on Tap” or some other means for meeting people your age. You don’t have to limit yourself to the local college center. Heck, there may even be a fellowship of Christian Athletes at your college.

catholicathletesforchrist.com/
proud2bcatholic.com

Good luck - sorry if I sound harsh, like I said I do wish I could have been in your position at your age, but my immaturity and pride wouldn’t let me and I only have myself to blame. But it is never too late to start over! Do avail yourself of confession, and do it regularily. Watch out and participate in Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter.

:blessyou:


#8

I think you can go out and have a few drinks and there is nothing wrong with that. Even though I don’t smoke pot, I don’t think there is anything sinful with it either. If the actions you do while under the influence are sinful then yes, getting drunk or smoking pot would be sinful. However, go and have a good time and just be careful. Though you might want to find a nice catholic club on your campus or something involved with your parish.


#9

I feel I have to clarify what the PP is saying, if I may. IMHO imbibing in recreational drugs is a loaded situation and it is best for most of us to try to avoid its use as much as possible in the spirit of prudence and temperance the Lord asks of us.

cin.org/mateo/mat93007.html

"Complete drunkenness, being completely passed-out or so nearly passed-out as to be without the use of reason and moral freedom, is a serious sin, because it degrades and debases human dignity. The gravity of this sin is increased as continuous excessive drinking threatens health, family, job, and public safety.

On the other hand, St. Thomas Aquinas writes that alcohol may be virtuously used “to the point of cheerfulness”. Beyond cheerfulness and this side of dead-drunk lies the area of venial sin."

“Moreover, a Christian must never forget the words of St. Paul: “You are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you. If anyone destroys the temple of God, him will God
destroy; for holy is the temple of God and this temple you are” (1 Cor 3:16-17). “Glorify God and bear Him in your body” (1 Cor 6:20). Again: “Be sober and watchful for your adversary the Devil goes about seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).”


#10

I have to disagree on the marijuana. The OP has already expressed concern about drug testing. Up until now, he has been planning to live with someone who sells the drugs. He could get in major trouble, be kicked off the team, be booted from school, and have this on his legal record permanently if caught. I also have to disagree on the alcohol. While this may not be as major an issue, legally speaking, if the OP finds that he requires it to function in social settings, then there may be a dependence issue.

To the OP: I think you are absolutely correct in discerning that you need to find new housing for next year. Living with a heavy drug user and a seller is a very bad idea and would be even if you did not already struggle with the temptation to use. I also agree with other posters that you should go to confession. You are trying to turn your life around, and confession will give you graces to help you do that. Plus, it will allow you to start over with a clean slate in God’s eyes. He doesn’t expect us to make ourselves perfect by our standards before we come to Him; rather, He wants us to come to Him so He can begin to make us perfect in His eyes. God bless and good luck. I’ve been in a similar place, and I have to say, you are much smarter than I was at 18. I think you’ll be fine.


#11

doctor, I don’t want to have the operation until I’ve cleared the cancer out myself.

doesn’t make much sense, does it.

In confession Jesus gives you the grace to battle whatever is drawing you into sin.

realistically, how much real enjoyment, satisfaction and genuine lasting pleasure (as opposed to momentary fun and thrills) have you EVER had in partying that involves alcohol, pot and the inevitable behavior that results when you turn your inhibitions into mush?

How many of those parties do you look back on with fond memories of good times, really getting to know your friends as people–if you have any memory at all the next morning of what went on the night before.

The sainst found, and you will probably find out yourself, that you cannot pursue virtue if you cling to vice, and you cannot hang with the same friends who take their pleasure in dragging you down. Read the lives of Ignatius Loyola, Francis of Assisi, Benedict of Nursia for some who underwent extreme conversions. Without going so far as founding your own religious order, you will have to take up your cross, and leave those persons and places who are toxic to your health. Even if it means changing schools, or at least changing dorms do it.

I think by the unfortunate series of events you describe it is also becoming clear to you that you have a personal problem controlling your alcohol intake and you need help. Go to campus health center and check out AA.

general note of info for college students: when your roommates get busted you will be arrested and investigated as well, Officer I did not know they were using and selling will not work as a defense.


#12

True, and this is often the first step to a full-blown addiction. I’m sure the OP didn’t go to college with the ambition to become a drunk, but that is what lies at the end of this particular road, if the habit doesn’t get under control right away. He needs a different coping strategy for social situations.


#13

First, you have to realize that everyone else is just like you - they are worrying about what everyone else thinks, and they aren’t really thinking about you at all. (Darn it anyways, eh? :stuck_out_tongue: )

Second, you can look just as sociable with a fizzy drink of any kind in your hand - it doesn’t have to be alcoholic, and only you and the bartender have to know that it isn’t.

When speaking to people, the best thing is just to be genuinely interested in them. One way to break the ice is to ask them, “So, what is the most crazy thing that has happened to you this week?” Or instead of crazy, you could say interesting, or dumb, or weird, or any word that gets people thinking about how their week has been. Then, be interested in how they answer you - want to know how it feels to be them. (This means, don’t interrupt and start talking about yourself.)

This will take your mind off of yourself - being interested in other people will take away that anxious, self-conscious feeling, and as an added bonus, you will gain a reputation as a good listener and great friend. :slight_smile:

Oh and I’d like to hear what you think on confession? The thing is, I would hate to confess now because I fear that I may fall again and so I’m waiting until I’ve cleaned myself up before I confess. Is this the wrong approach?

Just go. When trying to break a bad habit a few years ago, I went every Saturday and confessed the same thing every single week. It worked - I beat my bad habit. I think this strategy could work for anybody - try it out, and let me know.


#14

All of you thank you! All of this I can agree with. I just needed to hear it from someone else I guess.

I agree with the idea of a few drinks. But a few becomes a lot in a short amount of time around here. That was my intention last night, but the problem was I knew that it wouldn’t be social drinking, but I went any way.

I use to tell myself that about pot. But I honestly don’t think you can be the best you can and enjoy marijuana. First of all you’re breaking civil laws as laxed as they maybe in Canada. Secondly your desecrating your “temple”. The more and more I learn about my faith the more I feel guilty. Not too mention the amount of money one wastes, plus the amount of gluttony it produces. Overall it’s just a lifestyle that was way to prone to sin for me.

To the poster above - yes it is a Newman centre, and yes I’ve seen something called “theology on tap”. I take it that it’s a strong community, I guess I just need to gather the strength to join up.

About educating myself - that is what has actually brought me to my faith. I can’t stop myself from learning. My love of learning my faith has even crept into my course selection, and with all the religious studies courses I’m doing ok, but yes I do need get more involved with my education. Of great help at my university is the Newman centre, who have sponsored a Catholic studies program at my university, and I had a wonderful course last semester with a professor who was a member of … a group that escapes my name, but their focus is on educating Catholics. He did a wonderful job, something my 12 years in a Catholic school system never succeeded in doing.

On AA - I know that that’s unnecessary. I come from a Slavic background, drinking at family occasions is quite the norm and I know I can easily drink socially. The problem is it’s difficult for me to control myself when friend after friend is giving you a beer, or everyone is involved in a drinking game. Honestly, it’s dependent on my environment. I never, ever drink alone, I never ever feel a desire to have a drink. It’s just as soon as I’m at that party… I give in.

I know firsthand the emptiness of this lifestyle. That is why I’m getting out now. The joy I find in faith is indescribable. Events in the previous year have brought me to this. Things happened where I can do nothing else but believe. At one point I found myself intoxicating myself to try and escape this calling. “No” I told myself, God doesn’t exist and that I should just enjoy first year, as everyone seems to be telling me. Yet weird things kept happening… It tore me apart. Still, at every moment of sobriety I knew He was calling. That’s whats driving me to get out. I try my hardest to focus on Christ as my model. For my birthday I asked for an icon of the resurrection and the crucifixion. I pray the rosary in front of these icons everyday. I honestly can’t describe what I feel when I do this. It has totally cleaned up other parts of my life, all I need now, I guess, is to get over this social hump. Then I think my spiritual life will truly begin to blossom.

Again thank you for your responses. I know Christ will get me through this, I have this wonderful picture above my desk of John Paul II resting his head on the crucifix. Like John Paul II in this picture, I should just rest myself on Him. Sometime today or tommorow, when I catch my current roomate in a moment of sobriety, I’ll explain to him that I don’t want to live with him next year. And when I get back from reading week, I’ll force myself to get the Newman centre. … I don’t get it, put a 260lbs defensive tackle infront of me and I’ll rip him apart, but trying to get myself to this Newman centre, now that’s scary.

Thank you for your prayers and posts. I read each and everyone and am inspired by them. Thank you.


#15

I can totally relate since I also have anxiety problems. I hide this behind the fact that I love to do public speaking and can easily portray myself as outgoing when I am playing some sort of role. I was a total mess when I first forced myself to get involved with my Newman Center but I continue to force myself to get involved and it makes me force myself to be involved with social situations. I even am president of our Newman Center and this helps me out even further since it forced me even more so to not be socially withdrawn from everyone else, deal with the things I am usually otherwise too worried about to do, and as I said, when I get to play a role I am very outgoing. The point is that I have grown in my faith tremendously because of the Newman Center and it has really helped me out in a lot of ways.


#16

When you say the “biggest party school in Canada”, are you talking about McGill? I just graduated from McGill last summer, and I can tell you from experience that it (and the city of Montreal) are definitely tough places to be…but as you’ve already seen, the Newman Centre is a great resource, and there is also McGill Christian Fellowship, the on-campus non denominational Christian group (I knew several Newman Centre people who were also a part of MCF) - they have meetings every Friday I believe, their web site is www.mcgillcf.com , so check them out as well. And never give up!


#17

haha, yup you guessed correctly.
I just walked by a setup they had in leacok, talked with a nice gent there I’m on the mailing list and i’ll start getting involved.


#18

yeah, but there are a lot of Christian organizations on campus that are sort of hidden…Newman used to have lunch every day or a few times a week, MCF meets every Friday night at 7 or 8 in Shatner (if they haven’t moved), you can join an accountability group…because honestly, doesn’t Peel Pub get old after a while? :stuck_out_tongue:


#19

You’ve gotten some good advice here.

I’m also in college at a ‘party school’ in the US, but I’ve found that all the difference is in the people you choose to surround yourself with. Getting involved with a Catholic fellowship would be wonderful, not only for the new friends with whom you share a common faith and set of values, but also for the accountability. Good friends won’t let you lead an unhealthy lifestyle, filling your body with drugs and alcohol.

So get to know some good people at your school, definitely change up your rooming situation for next year, persist in your prayer life, and find a good confessor and/or spiritual advisor.

I’d also suggest something no one else here has said yet–if the ‘party school’ atmosphere of your university has really sucked you in, and you’re finding it hard to escape and make new friends, perhaps the best move for you might be transferring to another college. You said you’re a freshman, so it’s definitely not too late to consider it. A fresh start in a new place, where you can commit yourself to living a virtuous, Catholic life and be strong against temptations might be what’s best for you. Just something to consider.

You’re in my prayers!


#20

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