By Claire Kenney
It’s no secret that the Catholic Church and secular society do not promote parallel definitions of love. The Church emphasizes the selfless nature of love, while the culture typically promotes the idea that love is as much about one’s needs as it is about giving. In other words, it describes an imitation of love.
Framed by the hook-up culture, or the idea that random physical intimacy is no big deal, imitation love is the exact opposite of real love. Recent studies claim that the hook-up culture is prevalent on college campuses. According to a 2015 article in Teen Vogue titled The Surprising Reality About Hook-Up Culture in College,” about 75 percent of college students hook up at some point during their college career. But there is hope, and it’s present on a local level in South Bend.
“I think at this day in age, we can easily be misguided into what society tells us what will make us truly happy,” said Saint Mary’s College freshman Amanda Fischer. “…as long as I discern what the Lord has planned for me, then He will lead me to true happiness,” she went on to say.
University of Notre Dame junior Tierney Vrdolyak has a similar outlook.
“Every weekend I hear stories about friends and classmates confused and suffering from the effects of imitation love, yet everyday I see so many signs of hope on our campus,” she explained. “Hope to … revive this truly universal call to holiness that begins when we recognize our great value as young men and women made by and for God, a holiness to be shared through authentically loving each other.”
Hope was also evident in a filled-to-capacity auditorium last month at the University of Notre Dame, when more than 100 local college students came to listen to Leah Darrow, former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant and current Catholic speaker, describe the importance of human dignity and the detrimental effects that stem from imitation love.
Her talk, “Made for More: What I Wish Every College Student Knew,” used Darrow’s personal narrative of living a high-profile life without her Catholic faith as a guide, which led her to rely on imitation love. She focused on the fundamental idea of the dignity of the human person and its connection to modesty and chastity.
“Authentic love at its core is true joy…” Leah explained to those in attendance.
“We’ve been made for that,” she explained. “It (love) will never send you to the confession line. It’s not a girl thing. It’s not a Disney thing. It’s not a Taylor Swift thing. It is a human thing.”
Darrow detailed how her reversion experience and journey back to the Catholic faith was ultimately triggered by her realization that imitation love does not bring lasting happiness.
“Imitation love (is) under the bar of what you’ve been made for,” she said emphatically.
Notre Dame senior Dana Bouquet attended the event.
“I ended up talking with my boyfriend about this and how we see so many people fall into imitation love,” she said.
Boquet understands the hook-up culture’s domino effect.
“The family is the foundation of our society and building healthy families starts with the way in which college students are dating today.”
Saint Mary’s freshman Teresa Niehaus agreed.
“Leah Darrow really understood the hook-up culture that is so normal and even expected in today’s culture, especially in college,” she said when reflecting on how the presentation touched her life. “Her talk was really inspiring in that she was able to witness to the idea that it’s possible to leave the sinful norms of the world around us and remember that even though everyone else is doing something, it’s not fulfilling and ultimately we were ‘made for more.’”
Following her presentation at Notre Dame, Darrow shared her goal for college students.
“It’s my hope that this new generation, emerging from universities today, will courageously live out the gospel of Jesus Christ, fulfill their dreams in Him and defend the gifts and freedoms of life and faith,” she said.
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