|Calling all the college students|
1) Make Time for Prayer
Conversation (talking and listening) with God is one thing that can keep the craziness that is college life in check. However, prayer is usually the first thing that gets shoved to the back burner once college starts for me. The hint that I got from a friend my freshman year was to make my prayer time an unmovable appointment in my calendar. Literally pencil in 'time with God' in for a certain time during the day and keep that appointment. You wouldn't call and cancel coffee with your best friend because you weren't suddenly feeling up to it. So don't do that with your conversation with God.
|Running to my God appointment|
2) Emphasize Christ-Centered Friendships
The word for 'religion' and the word for 'relationship' have the same root - there's a reason. No man is an island, especially in the sea of college life. Find friends who are going to hold you accountable, who are going to challenge your faith life and who are going to push you towards Christ. Friends who are going to get to know you well enough that when you say 'I'm fine' they know something is up. Friends who don't let you pack your faith away with your high school diploma and who tell you when you mess up. Friends to laugh, cry, and grow with. Friendships centered in your most mutual friend - Christ.
which leads to.....
3) Find your Newman Center
When I was a freshman in college, the Newman center was on my way home from work. I'd get off at 6 pm, and the center would open at 7 pm for fellowship on Wednesday. I cannot tell you how many times I took the turn for home instead of the campus center and had to turn myself around and decide to go the campus center. It's not an instant thing - there are going to be awkward moments, and funny moments, and moments you'll relive again and again once you get in there and get comfortable. Some of my best friends from my Newman center are people that I would have never have guessed would know all the things they know about me now. But I never would have met them if I hadn't gone to the Newman center. So get yourself to one.
|Surprise friends are the best friends|
4) Reach out and don't be afraid to evangelize
Your Catholic faith is going to be challenged. Despite the college you go to, the time spent at the Newman center, the friendships you form. It's inevitable - someone is going to ask you why you're Catholic. It could be in a class, where the only time the Catholic Church is talked about is when it's being bashed. It could be in the form of a room mate who wants to know why Catholics do what they do. It could be in a conversation in the cafeteria. Regardless of where it is, don't be afraid to be blatantly Catholic. The world needs more Catholic nerds - embrace it. But also don't be afraid of not knowing the answer. We belong to a church that has been around for over 2,000 years....questions that are asked in 2015 have been answered - we just have to do some research. So never be afraid of the response "That's a good question - and I don't know the answer. But I know there is one out there. Can I do some research for you and get back with you?" They're more impressed by your humility of admitting that you don't know then by you avoiding an answer.
|I will find an answer....I promise|
Find something to keep you grounded in your faith life. Similar to not letting your daily appointment with God down. It could come in many different forms - maybe you're going to make it to morning Mass two times a week. Or say a rosary every day. Or learn more about the saints. But have a game plan and stick to it. Oh, and remember the friends you met in tip number 2? Don't be afraid to bond further with them over your commonly shared faith. Start a Bible study together, or meet at the grotto to say a novena. But having a goal in mind makes it easy to stay on target.
|When I talk about Eucharistic Adoration|
What were tips you were given when you started college? Do you have any tips for those going in to college? Are you starting your first year? What are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below!