Don’t Let College Steal Your Faith: 5 Ways
It’s easiest to forget about God when your routine changes. When you move, or switch jobs, or go on vacation, the swirl of new activity and people breaks any faith habits you had before. And you know what changes your routines, your environment, and the people around you all at once? College. Add to that the fact that research shows being young and having an active faith life is not currently in vogue. And then add that college is a place where everyone is testing their independence and figuring out who they are and their place in the world. Put all of that together and keeping your faith strong in college is quite the feat.
Here are a few tips to help you hold on to old habits, or form new ones, to protect the treasure that is your faith.
1: Find people who care about faith.
You can choose who you spend your time with on and off campus. Make sure you surround yourself with people who can help you stay accountable to what you believe. If most of your friends don’t support your faith or your decisions, then it’s time to find new friends. This is easier in college than it will be throughout the rest of life, as there are so many people in close proximity. So, take advantage of a campus full of people, and make some new connections.
2: Go to Sunday Mass, and don’t stop there.
Be a part of the local parish church or Newman Center. Go to the events they put on. Bring friends to events as well. And then, volunteer. Help with parish initiatives or on campus faith initiatives. If you don’t feel directly invited or included in something, then take the first step and offer to help.
3: Get deep in conversation.
College is the perfect time to dig deeper into why you believe what you believe — all in casual conversation. Don’t keep chats with others surface level. Talk about the meaning of life, why you’re here, who God is, and why religion matters.
4: Study the faith.
Join a Bible study. Attend local Catholic faith formation events. Find good stuff online and keep coming back to it, like Word on Fire and Ascension Presents. Read books on the faith (pro tip: use a library app and get them for free in an audiobook format, then listen to them while working out or doing laundry). Try authors like C.S. Lewis or Scott Hahn. Read papal encyclicals online. Find saint biographies or books with entries on the lives of many different saints.
5: Read the Bible.
And then sit with it for a few minutes each day. Try the readings for the day at the USCCB website or Morning or Night prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours at ibreviary. Use the Scripture you read as the basis for your daily prayer. Set a time to make this happen in the morning or evening depending on your schedule. It may change from semester to semester, but if you create a time for it in your day, it is more likely to happen and become a habit to rely on. If there is an Adoration chapel or church near campus, try to go there to pray when possible.
If you talk about the faith, study it, live it, grapple with it, and surround yourself with people who do the same, then it becomes part of you and your everyday. And when your relationship with God is an integral part of your identity and day, keeping your faith in college is possible.
This appeared at Aleteia.
Image: Sacred Heart statue in Raven Memorial Park at Benedictine College in Kansas.