One of the phrases that bugs me the most is: “When you get out in the real world…” My parents used to use it when I wouldn’t turn homework in on time in high school:
“When you get out in the real world…you are going to have deadlines that you’ll be held accountable to.”
When I was in college it was a professor who didn’t like some of my convictions:
“When you get out in the real world…you’re going to have to let go of some of your ideals.”
Now, it’s my peers who don’t understand why going to Mass each and every Sunday is such a big deal to me:
“That’s just because you work at the Church. If you worked in the real world you’d realize that sometimes work has to come first.”
Is this not the real world? Have I spent the last 31 years of my life in some sort of “real world” training ground where the all the rounds are blanks and the bad guys are really just pop up cardboard figures?
Of course not. The truth is the “real world” is the world I’m living in right now – it’s the world you’re living in right now. It’s the high school hallways, the college dorm rooms, the office cubicle, the perpetual adoration chapel – it’s all real. And that’s where we’re called to live our faith – in all parts of this very real, very imperfect world.
Did you know that at Baptism we are all graced with the powers of consecration? To consecrate means simply to make or declare something sacred; to dedicate something to a divine purpose. The Church, in its document Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, tells us that all who have been baptized are called to consecrate the secular – the nitty-gritty realities of our lives to God.
This is what being a Catholic Realist means to me. It means embracing everything that my real and imperfect world offers and dedicating it to God’s holy purpose. It means that I am going to try to decree all the good (date night with my husband, sledding with my kids, laughing with my friends), the bad (poopy diapers, angry coworkers, doing laundry) and the ugly (a friend’s marriage splitting, a miscarriage, a teenage suicide) in my life to be sacred.
I’m not always going to get it right – which is what makes this life I’m living part of the real world. You want to know the best thing about it, though? Those moments when I screw it up, when I monumentally miss the boat and ignore or reject the right path? Yeah, I’m going to consecrate those moments too…