Do You Suffer From FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)?

The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is believing that someone else is doing something better than you are, and therefore, you are missing out. It is a social angst, heightened by social media, which portrays a false image of life. While the mindset has been present in every generation, there is a growing trend of keeping options open and waiting for something better.  Still, it isn’t helping any of us live better lives.

Think about theses scenes you see frequently (maybe you do these things yourself):

  1. A young couple on a date at a restaurant, who don’t engage on another much in conversation, rarely make eye contact, and stare at their phones for most of the dinner. They are afraid the options online are better than what is in front of them (bad habits are also at play).
  2. You ask someone if they want to watch a movie or go play pool on Friday night and they get flaky about an answer. They might say something akin to, “text me before you leave and I will let you know if I can go”.
  3. A relative who has been dating their significant other for 10 years and has no plans to get married, because they want to “keep their options open.”
  4. Second-guessing the decision you made to stay home and study/rest/etc, thinking that your friends are having a great time without you.
All of these situations, and many more like them, repeat themselves daily in our culture. The culture-watchers know this is happening and they play on our vulnerability by overwhelming us with choices. Examples:phones
  • 168,894 different drink combos at Sonic
  • Dating sites that offer hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of different “options” to date or hook-up with others.
  • How many different options are there on a phone now? Not to mention the kinds of phones one might choose.
  • etc.

We have even brought this attitude into faith issues – church shopping, being spiritual but not religious, and wanting to choose our own way over God’s way (the universal FOMO).The primary force behind FOMO’s rapid growth is the internet and social media. When you see Instagram pics of your friends at your favorite band’s concert in New York (when you live in TX), the newly married couples “we are in heaven” post on Twitter, or the Facebook update about the new dream job your high school friend just got, it can lead to you feeling like your life isn’t up to par with others. Studies have shown that using Facebook can cause low self-esteem!

The problems that come from this attitude are many and I believe the enemy is highly entertained by this culture of the better option.

If we don’t commit to something and stick to it, we don’t commit to anything.
If we don’t commit to anything, we live our lives without meaning.

Too often today, we stand paralyzed in making a choice, because there are too many options. We leave our options open, waiting for the better one, but we end up not committing to anything and then the moment passes us by and we seem unsatisfied – afraid we “missed out” on something better. Sometimes it is a consequence of being afraid to make the wrong choice, in the face of so many options being presented. So, the only decision made is to not make a decision, and therefore not have to live with the consequences of missing out or making the wrong choice. This is not a good way to live a good life!

Life is meant for us to make a choice, stick with it, and the result is living a better life because of it. Think of the vows of matrimony. They speak to choosing one spouse and only one spouse, until death do us part:

I, ____, take you, ____, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Notice there is no backdoor to find a better option down the line. Whatever may happen, this is the choice I make and I stick to it. If we don’t, we are treating others as an thing which we can use as we wish to make us happy = utilitarianism. This mentality is dangerous and unchristian!

Utilitarianism is the philosophy that the best way to live my life is to maximize my happiness and minimize my suffering and this is primarily done by using other people and things to attain my happiness. In other words, it makes people into objects. By constantly keeping your options open with others, by waiting for a better option, by having the fear of missing out – we treat others as objects, not people! Thus, life becomes about what others do for me, not about love!

Think about how God chooses to love us. He chooses you and sticks to His choice! It is how He wants us to live our lives too! Make a choice for God and stick to it! There are a multitude of gods out there we can worship – money, pleasure, power, fame, etc. One that too many are worshiping today is the god of better options. It promises you won’t miss out. But, it lies.

Choose God. Choose others. Stick to your choice. This is the way of the one true God who chooses you. Faithfulness is never without sacrifice, but it does not leave us unsatisfied.

Even psychology backs this up – Psychologist Barry Schwartz teaches this (WARNING – there are some parts of this video that are somewhat crass, but are used to make a good point):

Here are some tips for fighting the FOMO mentality. But, a simple question might really be the key – “is this (checking Facebook for the 65th time today / keeping your phone on 24/7 / worrying about comparing yourself to others / etc) really going to make my life better?” Choose based on the true answer, not your impulse.
Even the Bible talks about how to deal with FOMO:

“Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”-Joshua 24:15

Finally, below is a video from a college student talking about the consequences of FOMO. This is really well done:

What Catholic Mega-Parishes Can Learn From Protestant Mega-Churches

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The phrase “mega-church” has been around a while now, but the definition of a mega-church does not include Catholic parishes.  A mega-church is not only about size, but also about the culture and characteristics that surround them. Thus, the official demographics on mega-churches do not include Catholic parishes. This means that we currently have very little research on Catholic mega-parishes. One statement the Hartford Institute for Religion Research had about Catholic parishes put the situation in perspective:

There are many very large catholic churches and if we extended our interest in megachurches from just the Protestant megachurches to very large Catholic congregations with attendance over 2000 on average weekly we would add roughly 3000 additional Catholic churches to the 1200 or so that are over 2000 in attendance.

This means there are more than double the number of Catholic mega-parishes than there are Protestant mega-churches. This is an area of church life that we have not really studied much, but need to, because the phenomenon is only going to continue to grow (Note that CARA defines a mega-parish as having 1,200 or more registered parishioners).

Look at these numbers:
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Houston has 11,023 families! If you average that to 3 members you have 33,000+ people registered!
St. Ann in Coppell, TX has 8,900 registered households and 30,000+ members!
This means that both these churches would easily make the top 10 biggest Protestant churches in the nation (if they were Protestant). There are others Catholic parishes within the same range. Take for instance, St. Matthew in Charlotte, NC – they have 34,000+ members!

If we define a mega-parish as one with 1,200 or more in attendance, then St. Mary’s Catholic Center clearly qualifies. The difference with us, obviously, is that we are not a traditional territorial parish. We are a “personal parish” which means according to canon law, we do not cover a geographic territory, but serve a group of people (the campus communities of A&M and Blinn College). So, the issues we face are unique in many ways, but cross over into what many other mega-parishes are going through.

Think of the issues that arise when you get into larger parishes:

  • administration issues
  • leadership structure, communication / decision-making
  • engaging visitors
  • budget
  • buildings / facilities
  • handling volunteers
  • marketing
  • parking
  • evangelization
  • preventing folks from “falling through the cracks”
  • etc.

To top it off, no seminary I know of does a good job preparing priests to manage budgets, work on administration issues, handle human resources, good business practices, etc.

Of course there are also advantages to having mega-parishes:

  • it prevents priests from having to handle several parishes.
  • they can provide a wider range of services / organizations.
  • they generally have larger staffs.
  • generally have better RE and youth ministry, due to a wider pool to pull from and more financial resources.
  • they usually have better facilities.
  • they are more diverse.
  • etc.

Our Protestant brethren have a lot to teach Catholic parishes about how to be successful in such large communities. Here are just a few things we Catholics can learn:

  • They push small groups (esp. in the form of Bible studies) more than Catholics. This helps individuals experience relationships within the faith community, which is sorely lacking in too many Catholic parishes. It is easy to be anonymous in Catholic mega-parishes and thus, we don’t really minister to everyone coming to us, on a personal level.
  • They make evangelism (Catholic generally call it evangelization) a priority. They don’t sit back and wait for new members to show up at their door. This is why many Protestant mega-churches see such rapid growth. Catholics have changed Jesus great commission in Matthew 28 from “Go make disciples” to “stay right where you are and remain comfortable, while waiting for others to wander in to your church.”
  • They make adult discipleship an emphasis.  Catholics have it upside down. We put most of our time, effort, and budget into youth, while still teaching that “parents are the primary educators” of their children.
  • They continue to think differently than small churches. Many Catholic mega-parishes think “small” too often, so they operate with small mindsets in meetings, structures, policies, etc. Catholic parishes need to focus on growth – but NOT just Mass attendance growth. Rather, growth from a faith perspective. How many intentional disciples are there? Do you know? What is your plan to increase this number?
  • Protestant mega-churches don’t do nearly as many things as Catholic mega-parishes. Too often the ministries, apostolates, groups, and organizations you find in many Catholic parishes are not fulfilling the needs that the parishioners have. The primary needs are to evangelize, form community, grow in faith together, and be sent out to serve / evangelize / disciple others. We can all get distracted from what we ought to be doing by doing good things. Just because an activity is at a church doesn’t mean the church ought to be doing it. Less really can be more in this case. Do little and do it well.

Put it all together.  We have a situation (growing mega-parishes) that we aren’t even talking much about yet. How do we work to handle the issues raised above (and many more)? More importantly, what more can Catholics learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters who are in similar contexts?

21 Things I Wish I Knew My Freshman Year of College

21 Things I Wish I Knew My Freshman Year of College:

21 – You can’t be successful all by yourself, so find and live in community with other Catholics/Christians! Many of my best friends, still to this day, were those I made when I finally started to understand what a real “community” is all about. It means we love each other intentionally, we support each other, we serve each other, we laugh together, we cry together, we have fun together, and we hold each other accountable. These things are necessary for every Catholic/Christian to be successful, but esp. true of those who leave home for college.

20 – Take off your masks. The real you is worthy of the love of God/others and is made to love as well. Don’t hide the truth about your faith, personality, nerdiness, insecurities, etc. If someone doesn’t appreciate the real you, then they can’t truly be a friend to you anyway! So, take off the masks that hide who you truly are and let your true self be seen by all. Decide what the “ideal you” looks like in 10, 20, or 30 years and aim for being that person today!

19 – Go to sleep at a (somewhat) regular time. This is one of the hardest decisions of all. Before and after college, your schedule for most days is set for you. But, during college, you set your own schedule. This means many people stay up too late and don’t get enough sleep. This affects emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health. For a better you, get a good night of sleep, which starts by going to bed at a somewhat regular time.

18 – Don’t let social media be your main source of interaction with others. Online relationships are not the same as in-person ones and should always be secondary to the people you are around on a day-to-day basis. Still, keeping up with old friends, getting to know new ones, and staying connected aren’t bad things. But, too much social media may mean less interaction with the living people right next door and you can make sure this doesn’t happen by being intentional about making new friends and setting personal boundaries on social media.

17 – Make a plan, set your goals, and stick to it. If you don’t write down your goals, they aren’t real, they are just ideas. So, come up with a solid plan, with real goals and then follow through on it. I have never met someone who set a goal they really wanted to achieve, then achieved that goal, then regretted it (as long as it wasn’t something immoral). So, go for it – make the Dean’s list, find a great community of like-minded Catholics, get involved, or just make it to 99% of your classes. You won’t regret it!

16 – You won’t regret it if you take the initiative in making friends. Seriously. Put yourself out there. Doing so doesn’t mean you need to be in other people’s business or annoying. Rather, it is about taking the initiative to visit your neighbors dorm room, to say “hi” to the student at the mailbox next to your own, to sit next to someone who is alone on the first day of class, and to introduce yourself to others. Not all of these encounters will lead to your next best friend, but some may lead to lasting friendships. You never know until you take a risk!

15 – Take advantage of the opportunities you will never have again. So, get the part-time job to help with bills and teach you responsibility. Study abroad if you can. Take the internship. Ask questions. Have really deep conversations long into the night (but not too long – see #19). Go pond-hopping. Find someone to join you on a road trip. Use Spring Break to go on a mission trip. Go hang out in the adoration chapel, just because. You won’t regret it and you may never have the opportunity or time for most of these (and other) college experiences.

14 – Homesickness is real. Almost everybody has it to some degree, even those that come from unhealthy environments back home. For new students, it is an unfamiliar and difficult transition and you will have to learn a new town (unless you don’t leave home), new friends (because you don’t just want to hang out with your old ones), and new challenges. It is good to acknowledge homesickness, so you can work on it.

13 – Many myths about college still exist, but common sense never goes out of style. These myths include thinking all-nighters/cramming will lead to good grades (they don’t). They also include lifestyle issues such as thinking partying all the time, getting drunk, hooking-up, etc. will lead to a great life (they don’t). So, have some wisdom, make good decisions, and work on being a better you.

12 – College is not just about getting a job. I am not saying that getting a job is not important. I am not saying you don’t want to work hard and get good grades either. I AM saying that college is about learning about the big questions – Who am I? What is life about? What plan does God have for me? How does the world operate and what part do I play in it? etc. If you figure these out, college will be a success and the rest is icing on the cake.

11 – Ask for help before you are in real trouble. This goes for all situations. If you are struggling in class, talk to a professor. If you are struggling spiritually, talk to a priest or campus minister. If you are struggling in another way, find someone to talk to.  In fact, it is best to start a relationship with these folks BEFORE the problems arise. So, go to your profs’ office hours and introduce yourself (even if you are intimidated). Get to know the campus ministry folks and others. Remember that the folks that work in and around colleges are there to help you.

10 – You are NOT poor. You may not have as much money as your friends and you almost certainly don’t have as much as your parents. This does not make you poor, so don’t say you are. You are rich – you get to go to college, you eat as much as you need, you have a place to sleep, etc. Enjoy not having a lot of extra money and be creative. Also, manage the money you do have and make it a goal to donate a certain percentage of it, even if very small.

9 – Sit up front. I am assuming that you are going to every class (which costs about $100+ (some schools are $400+) per class if you skip or not). If you sit up front in class you are bound to pay more attention to the prof and get better grades. You are also a more familiar face to the prof when you go ask for help (see #1). Sit up front in church as well. Easier to focus.

8 – Meet new people and try new things. College is a great time to work on being a better you. A great way to do this is to meet different kinds of people from different backgrounds and with different ideas. You need to stay grounded in your faith, morality, and family. But, you should also learn about the world through relationships with others.

7 – Good friends don’t always make good roommates. Sometimes your best friend may not be a friend at all after living with them for a year. Choose your roommates wisely. If you want to study, don’t room with a friend who has bad study habits. If you want to be responsible, don’t room with a friend who is irresponsible. Also, be a good and respectful roommate yourself!

6 – Don’t go into credit card debt. Credit card companies are like vultures on college campuses. They are just waiting for you to say “yes” to the free t-shirt so they can have you ring up tons of debt and be locked into a crazy percentage rate that you carry for years and don’t pay off until you are retired. Don’t fall for it. Keep a budget and be smart about spending money. You don’t need all the toys and latest gadgets.

5 – Get involved in things that interest you – but don’t over-commit. While you want to try new things, put the majority of your time into things you are passionate about. If that list doesn’t include God, then you also need to reassess your priority list and things you are passionate about. At the same time, you can’t do it all, so start slow. You don’t want to be the student who over-commits and ends up being flaky about all of it.

4 – Your vocation is as a single student, so don’t act like it isn’t. In other words don’t make 2 big mistakes. The first is putting too much time and energy into a dating relationship to the detriment of the other parts of your life that matter (e.g. family, friends, school, work, leisure, etc). The second mistake is thinking you don’t really have to put the time into to study, but that just getting by is good enough. Wrong. The habits you start today will help determine the kind of person you are tomorrow. So study and live a balanced life in relationships.

3 – You don’t have to have it all figured out while in college. So, you change your major if you need to, understand that you will lose some friends and make new ones, you will be a different person than the one that started college by graduation – all of these are ok. Don’t put an arbitrary deadline on decisions either. For instance, don’t think you have to be engaged (or know your vocation or career path) before you graduate or you have failed. God’s timetable is different for everyone.

2 – Have fun! Balance your academics with a good (and healthy) social life. This means you have to do the following – manage your time, find friends who will make good decisions, and be smart about it all. But, have the kind of fun you won’t feel sorry about later on too!

1 – Following Jesus is worth it all. Of the Catholics who stop identifying as Catholic, 80% will do so by the age 24. This is because many decide they want what the world has to offer. The sad part is many don’t really know what Jesus has to offer. Following Him is the only way to real happiness, peace, and fulfillment. The rest is all fluff. Try Jesus on, for yourself – not for your parents or anyone else. Campus ministry is here to help you do just that, so why not try St. Mary’s  or another campus ministry?

Aggie Catholic Vocations Are BOOMING!

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St. Mary’s Catholic Center is blessed to have many students who discern the call to priesthood and religious life. There are many reasons why we have a culture of discernment here, which include – a strong campus ministry, the ability to get to know multiple priests and religious (who are in love with Jesus) personally, the kind of student attracted to A&M, the culture locally, etc.

Because our students have many opportunities to come to know Jesus and grow in prayer, they are able to discern God’s call to their vocation in life. Many are called to priesthood or religious life and below is some good news!

Aggie Catholic Clergy/Religious Vocations Update:

  • 160 Aggie Catholic bishops, priests, deacons and religious (who have taken permanent vows), that we know of.
  • 81 Aggie Catholics are currently in formation for religious life and priesthood.
  • This year we have 15 men/women entering formation/seminary – a new record number! 
  • Over the past 19 years we have averaged 9+ young men/women who enter formation/seminary annually!
  • Over the past 5 years we have averaged 12+ men/women who enter formation/seminary annually!

Please continue to pray for all those discerning their vocation, whether it is religious life, priesthood, or marriage.

10 Reasons Why Many Catholics Would Stop Going To Church If Jesus Was Their Pastor

10 Reasons Why Many Catholics Would Stop Going To Church If Jesus Was Their Pastor

  1. He expects radical commitment and he never will shy away from demanding it from those who say they follow Him.
    Here are just 2 examples:

    **“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -Matt 5:11-12

    **”I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven” -Matt 5:44-45

  2. His preaching can be very confusing. Seriously. We have heard so many homilies, try imagining what would you would do if you heard this as a homily:

    **”This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!” -Luke 11:29-32

  3. He focuses most of his time on a small number of His followers. While He preaches and teaches the crowds, He invests the majority of His time in a small group that is close to Him. He spends years guiding them, teaching them deeply, instructing them in Scriptures, challenging them to live holy lives, etc.

    **“On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida” -Luke 9:10

    **“Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.” -Luke 9:28

  4. Jesus wouldn’t be found at church very often. He would be in the streets, talking to the lost, preaching the Gospel, curing the sick, and helping the poor. He might be seen around church a few times a week.

    **“A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”” -Matt 8:19-20

  5. He hangs out with rejects, the outcast, the loser, and the untouchable. In fact, He doesn’t just hang out with them, He seeks them out to bring them grace, love, and healing.

    **”A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”” -Mark 1:40-41

  6. Jesus hates status quo. If you want to just maintain ‘the way it has always been done’ or the prevailing church culture, He won’t be happy about it.

    **”Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. “ -Luke 9:23

  7. He doesn’t care about image, success, money, or trends. He cares about faithfulness, charity, hope, grace, peace, generosity, humility, etc. and He wants you to care about those things too.

    **“For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” -Matt 16:24

  8. He would focus on holiness, discipleship, preaching the Good News, and evangelizing the lost, not a bunch of distracting activity at the parish. My guess is most activities at your average parish would be cancelled and He would focus on truly forming disciples and evangelizing individuals in relational ministry and then training others to do the same.

    **“When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” -Matt 28:17-20

  9. His continued demand that we serve the poor would become a nuisance to many. He valued the poor more than any other group of people. Our attitude, in our culture, is that our money is our own and we can do with it as we please. He reminds us all is from God and we have an obligation to help those in need.

    **“”When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”” -Luke 14:13-14

  10. Jesus is willing to die for the message He preaches and expects us to do the same. Most of us, of course, won’t have to die for being Christian, but we will have to learn to do the unpopular and difficult for Christ.

    **”If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” -John 15:20-21