Walking into my first week of college at University of Northern Iowa in 2017, I came to a stand-still question that ultimately led to a vital decision: “How do I make this faith my own?”
Who better to answer these questions than Jesus Himself?
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)
Inspired by this verse, I’ve listed five tangible steps to stay focused on faith in the midst of a college world.
1) Pray. Everyday.
“But as for you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret.” (Matt. 6:6)
Prayer is the surest way to create a deep friendship with Jesus. Pray. Every day. I recognize that these two words put together can sound intimidating considering the hustle and bustle of classes, student clubs, and organizations.
Start with 10 minutes per day. Then make 20 minutes per day, then 30.
As you continue building this habit, the easier and more natural it will become to make this your day’s necessity. If you miss a day, give yourself grace and pick up where you left off. Jesus wants to spend time with you. Let Him.
I find the Hallow app extremely beneficial to my prayer life. It includes various narrated prayers, homilies, and mediations that can guide the prayer process. Other helpful apps include Laudate, iBreviary, and Divine Office.
2) Read and live in The Word
As we seek to know the Lord while pouring our thoughts into prayer, feeding our hearts and minds with what is good and true. is also essential.
The Bible tells us who Jesus is, who He says we are, and how He calls us to live. I like to look at the Bible as a roadmap to freedom straight from Jesus. It’s the ultimate love story.
3) Let the Sacraments feed your soul
Celebrating the sacraments allows Jesus to meet us face-to-face in the most precious way.
St. Augustine of Hippo says the “sacraments are an external sign of Christ’s internal graces.”
By regularly attending Mass, adoration and confession, Christ spiritually feeds us to “go out to the world” and truly be the Church. Without this necessity, we operate from an empty cup. Take your friends to Mass with you and invite them to brunch afterwards!
4) Connection, Community and Fellowship
The word Catholic means “universal”.
The word “universal” means “belonging to all” in Latin. Jesus made us for community so that we can share our very lives with those around us.
The community of people you surround yourself with will serve as a great rock of accountability and momentum as you support one another in your walk with the Lord. Joining a Bible study was one of the best decisions I made in college.
Every week, we gathered a group of women to not only share our thoughts about the Bible readings, but also share our lives. The most important part: we were all striving for Heaven.
In the wise words of Sarah Swafford, these people will be your “strive tribe.”
Your local student center likely has events and retreats like the University of Colorado Boulder’s Buffalo Awakening, or the Antioch Retreat at University Northern Iowa.
5) Have a heart for service
By volunteering and giving time, we can best serve the Church and Her people. Whether that means regularly serving at a soup kitchen, with a nonprofit organization or participating in your student center’s service events.
It’s a great way to make friends and build community. Another transformative service experience is going on a U.S. or international mission trip, such as one with FOCUS missions, which is the largest Catholic mission organization.
Pray for all college students as they begin the new school year!
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