10 ideas for being a college student without losing your faith
Author: Sebastian Campos | Source: Catholic.link
Such is the freedom that it gives us the experience of studying at the university that one can even get to feel drifting. Teachers are no longer taking care of you at recess, your parents don´t have reports on your grades, attendance or behavior, shouldn´t wear a uniform, and having spare time away from home that you can arrange them as you want to. This is great for moving from adolescence to youth, it requires these times of autonomy and responsibility where each should test what has been learned, values and principles.
For those we left a Catholic school we add another factor, and there´s no organized masses for us on a regular basis, and they don´t encourage us to pray the month of Mary or some devotion to a saint, celebrate Easter or prepare a manger to carry home. Especially if the step is a Catholic school to a secular university and more so if you add that you are studying outside your home city and your father's
In my experience lecturing young, I discovered that many, to begin their university studies, suffer a tremendous crisis of faith, even going to lose it completely or become an accessory in life, leaving the fundamental role it had before entering University. I have managed to identify two possible causes of this phenomenon and I want to prevent you. The first is that the faith of some people is just a product of family and cultural tradition and not a personal experience with Jesus and thinking about it, therefore as not asked, the questions of faith necessary and everything falls. The second reason that is identified is that in the academic world, especially some teachers make it look like faith and spiritual life are almost mythological beliefs of people who are lower and that's not going hand in hand with science and professional development of people. That served in a delicious plate of good oratory, scientific arguments and years of university professorship, are the perfect menu to demolish faith.
That's why I want to give you some ideas you can try to implement and share with your friends when you face the first months of college. And if you have ideas or experiences that could help others, please discuss them!
Live with diversity without losing your identity
You’ll find everything in college. People from many countries, many creeds, sexual orientations, values, disciplines and so it will never end. That's how rich university experience is, open to different people who have much to contribute to our lives and our professional training, accept them, to value and recognize that God is there is a gesture of humility and maturity. Not good to isolate from the educational and emotional experience, but it´s good to be completely permeable. Let your heart be influenced by everything around you can be risky, especially for your faith. Enjoy the diversity, learn from it and from your reality is a contribution to others and not just a sponge.
"The Church respects and esteems these non-Christian religions, as the living expression of the soul of vast groups. They carry themselves the echo of thousands of seeking God, incomplete but often made with uprightness of heart "(Evangelii Nuntuandi nº53).
Staying in prayer despite many attractive distractions
College life can be an experience so full of new things (especially for those just entering her) that the senses and the heart are stunned and thus the spiritual life is also deafened and mute. This new air that gives you higher studies isn´t justification for leaving your time with "the beloved” side. Caring faith is not part of the rites, it´s to cultivate the relationship with a person: Jesus.
“Dear young people, I know that Christianity is not an opinion and it does not consist of empty words. Christianity is Christ! It´s a Person, a Living! Find Jesus, love him and behold the Christian vocation" (Message of John Paul II for the XVIII World Youth Day 2002).
Organize time and you´ll never lack of spiritual life
Sleep late for having to deliver papers and reports. Spend long hours reading and many other writing, sum up with all social, family responsibilities, sport, family and all that is put on the agenda can spend the account to you and your life of faith. Get organized and know what classes are Monday at a specific time, put on your agenda immovably a schedule for your spiritual life, whatever the activity you do. It's just a matter of organization.
“Everything has its time, and each thing its time under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1).
Open to the experience of meeting Jesus in reality
Jesus is existing in everything around us, He became man and all the human experience filled with God. That's why we must be humble with our faith and recognize that He is present in people and places even when we do not expect it to be so. If you keep a docile heart, sure you'll take more than a surprise.
"For the faithful to bear more fruitful witness to Christ, join with those men with appreciation and charity, let them acknowledge as members of the human group in which they live and take part in cultural and social life for the various relationships and chores human life" (Ad Gentes No. 11).
Give public testimony of your faith
Faith is something to share and live it in public. There is something intimate that must carry well-hidden and that few people know. Don´t be ashamed of it, for your Christian witness is your greatest resource of evangelization in the midst of the world.
"Modern man listens more willingly to testimonies than to teachers, or if he does listen to teachers, it´s because they are witnesses" (Evangelii Nuntiandi n.41).
That knowledge and science don´t collapse your foundation
Studying opens the understanding of new ways of understanding the universe, society and people. That knowledge, when it´s misused or when our foundations are fragile can do great harm to our faith. Embrace the knowledge and science, but watch your faith at the same time.
"I think that to find oneself face to face with the wonders of life and the universe must ask why and not just how. The only possible answers are religious order... Both in the universe and in my own life have need of God" (Arthur Schawlow, Nobel Physics).
Discovering God out of the church
It is a bad habit to live our faith only in the midst of celebrations, liturgies, candles, incense and flowers. God is also in the midst of the corridors, in conversations, in the subjects you study and the people with whom you relate, even in the fashion accessories they use. Think that by being in college and spend much time in it are far from God's presence is a mistake. “God is here, as sure as the air I breathe.”
"Everything good and true that is between them [those who do not know the gospel] the Church considered as a preparation for the Gospel given by him who enlightens all men that they may have life" (Lumen Gentium No. 16).
Maintain fidelity to Eucharist
Those who studied in Catholic schools we had it easy, we organized Masses periodically and we were required. Now nobody organizes Masses for you or forces you, everything is in your hands. There are things that are fundamental and participate in the Mass is one of them. There is nothing that is more important than that and you cannot afford to stop receiving Communion. Be faithful, watch your time to participate at least on Sundays in the Eucharist. It´s logical that it becomes more difficult when you study away from home, but looking for a place to meet the Lord. Don´t allow yourself to miss Mass.
Don´t stay away from the Church. Find a one as soon as possible
We are not super heroes to walk through life alone. God thought of us as social beings and our faith calls us to live in community. Looking for a place to congregate, especially if you are studying outside your city of origin. And if you don´t find where you can meet other Catholics, go for creating a community of learners! That finding Jesus doesn´t pass the background.
Not stay away from the existential peripheries of life
Wanting to take care of faith in the midst of the university world is something noble and necessary, but don´t have to marginarte, especially people who believe that they don´t need anything else in their lives and don´t have Jesus. You must be light where there is darkness, fight your fears and shames and closer to the periphery, which is perhaps at the next desk or standing in the hallway to leave the room.
“The University is a frontier that awaits you, a periphery in which must be accepted and alleviate poverty existential man” (Message of Pope Francis to the Italian Catholic University Federation 2014).