So it’s been a couple of years since I graduated college, and I’ve thought quite a bit about how my life has changed since then. If I could go back and talk to myself as a college freshman, what would I tell myself? I’m sharing these with all the new freshman on campus so that you can get right what I got wrong.

Number 1: Recognize all forms of cheap imitation.

Instant coffee, powdered mash potatoes and the like will creep into your college lifestyle if you let it. Don’t let it!

God didn’t craft you into existence so you would lose it to convenience and immediate pleasures. Search for and ascribe your identity to the things dripping in raw goodness and truth.

“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” – G.K. Chesterton
(Don’t be this dumb!)

The story of the Paschal Mystery will absolutely dazzle you. God becomes man…are you kidding?! The Incarnation is scandalously captivating. The God – man rises from the dead so to redeem us of our sins… What?! The Eucharist… Smokes! These are the stories you ascribe your identity to. Be in awe of them and live in accord to their truths.

We crave awe and wonder. We crave God’s beauty in creation. Don’t give up the capacity to be dazzled by Him to what in the end are just cheap imitations of His goodness. Don’t let the magnificent story of the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior fall prey to college football season, the newest video game or the next season of the Bachelor. Please avoid that less than tempting 30 rack of Keystone Lights and that party scene which leads to a poor excuse for friendship. Our deepest thirst is quenched by the mystery of Transubstantiation, the Eucharist is where we enter into fullest Communion. He wants to give you a life of abundance, He wants you to have life to the full. (John 10:10)

If you don’t want to hear it from this old college grad. Listen to a Doctor of the Church.

“But my sin was this, that I looked for pleasure, beauty, and truth not in Him but myself and in His other creatures, and the search led me instead to pain, confusion and error.” – St. Augustine

We will search the world over for fulfillment and happiness but we will not find it until we devote ourselves to uniting our intellect and will in union with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church He established.

Number 2: Try hard to please God and not man.

It would have pleased God for me to create a prayer life.

It would have pleased Him, if I said ‘no’ to some of the 14 different clubs and organizations I was involved in so I was free to spend time seeking to do His will. It would please God if I were to stop comparing myself to others.

“Every soul in a state of grace is for Him a Heaven which only that soul can give.” – Fr. Jean D’Elbee, I Believe in Love

In prayer and through His grace we live out our identity as baptized Christians. We have developed our consciences and we are learning how to discern the Father’s will. We claim this identity and enter into this reality through selfless convictions. It is natural to want everyone to be happy, to want everyone to like you. Don’t lose yourself to this trap. Walk in the city of God and not the city of Man. Prioritize your life by loving God, neighbor and self. Walk as one convicted of the truth of eternal life. Console Jesus’ heart by creating for Him a place to abide. Do not conform to this world. Conform to abundant life in Jesus Christ.

Number 3: Make finding virtuous friendships Priority #1.

Who will be the 5 people you spend the most time with? Will they live a life worthy of imitation?

Those who seek to share in the divine life of Jesus Christ seek to imitate those who imitate Him. This is why St. Paul says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) Jesus wants to take our mustard seed of faith and grow it in a miraculous fashion. Jesus wants us to fertilize our mustard seed by surrounding ourselves with virtuous friendships. With rich soil, we will bear much fruit and become His disciples. (John 15:8) Disciples make disciples by humbly receiving selfless love, showing selfless love and giving selfless love. A life that is a gift is meant to be given as a gift to others. Give of yourself so as to walk humbly with God. Become a disciple and become a part of Salvation History.

“Man finds himself when he becomes a sincere gift of self.” – St. John Paul the Great