Last week, I received a question from a reader headed for college this fall. (Thanks to all who shared their advice on my Facebook page!).
When it came time to write the post, I ended up having more to say than I realized. So rather than give you one long post, instead I am going to be sharing with you all, over the next few days, some things that helped me grow in my faith while I was in college.
1. Develop a regular routine, and give your faith first priority in it
When you start college, in a lot of ways it’s like your whole world is resetting. You move to a brand new place, with brand new people, and you have an entirely new set of opportunities to fill your time. It’s exciting, but can also be overwhelming. Developing some semblance of a regular routine will help you feel more like a regular human being, and less like a zombie sustained by Top Ramen and midnight excursions to Taco Bell.
You’re a college student, so your routine doesn’t have to look like that of a monastic. You don’t need to announce to your entire dorm that you’re a Catholic upon arrival. If you’re being an authentic human being, people will discover your faith is important to you through getting to know you and seeing how you carry yourself.
By routine, I mean eat at the dining hall at regular intervals, join a club, go to the gym regularly. Be a college student! And yes, give your faith first priority in that routine. For starters:
Mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day ought to be a given. You’re a Catholic—you go to mass on Sundays. It’s simple. Find one you like and try to stick to that one. Attending the same mass at the same church every Sunday will help you feel a sense of belonging. You’ll need that when you’re away from home.
Usually I recommend confession once every other week. I’d actually recommend confession once a week while in college. If you make confession feel as regular to your schedule as dinner, you’ll be less likely to let time get away from you. If once a week is just impossible, at the bare minimum go once a month. If you find yourself headed home for Thanksgiving having not gone to confession even once while at school, you may need to reevaluate some things.
Pray Daily—Let prayer be the first thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning, and last thing before bed. Print out the Act of Faith, Act of Hope, and Act of Love and tape them on your mirror. Set a daily alarm on your phone for noon to stop what you are doing and pray The Angelus. Leave your Bible on your nightstand and read a short passage each night before you go to sleep. Of course talk with God throughout your day, but also have these concrete moments throughout your day when you turn to prayer.
Having a regular habit of prayer is very important. It will help keep you grounded and focused in your faith. In college, it will be on you to make room for your faith in your daily life.
Check back for tomorrow’s post: “Your Routine Won’t Save You”