Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How College Students Can Thrive During Christmas Break

The primary authors of this are the sisters we have here at St. Mary's - the Apostles of the Interior Life. They wrote this originally for students going on Summer break.  I changed it a bit for the Christmas break.

AKA - How To Thrive During Christmas Break

Christmas can hectic and then slow all rolled into one for college students. But, it can also be a very fruitful time for spiritual growth, if done with the right attitude in mind. We have found that there are more spiritual, personal, and emotional problems during the break than at almost any other time of year. This is because students get out of good habits, fall into bad habits (or renew old ones they had previously), dredge up family squabbles, have too much time on their hands, etc. As an answer to these issues, I first offer these thoughts:
“In this oasis of quiet, before the wonderful spectacle of nature, one easily experiences how profitable silence is, a good that today is ever rarer. The many opportunities of relation and information that modern society offers sometimes run the risk of robbing time for recollection, to the point of rendering persons incapable of reflecting and praying. In reality, only in silence does man succeed in hearing in the depth of his conscience the voice of God, which really makes him free. And vacations can help us rediscover and cultivate this indispensable interior dimension of human life” --JPII ,Angelus, July 11, 2004.
It is important to enter Christmas break with a “plan” for your spiritual life. Otherwise it is so easy to drift away even from the prayer commitment that you had during the semester.
  • First of all be faithful to your daily prayer. Establish how much time you want to devote to it, how (rosary, meditation on the Word of God, adoration…) and where (home, the chapel, your parish…). It is better to start with a little commitment (for example 20 minutes every day), and then in case increase it, than to start big and then give up because you can’t keep up with it.
  • Continue to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with frequency. Get information about the days and times for Confessions in your parish.
  • If it is possible, you ought to go to Mass during the week as much as you can, according with your academic/work commitments.
  • Christmas break is usually a period when you have free time on your hands. It is ideal to read some good spiritual books that can inspire you and nourish your faith. You will find a great treasure in the lives of Saints, their writings, and in books about specific topics in which you are interested (e.g., spiritual discernment, virtues, faith and reason, Church history, apologetics, morality, etc.). You can ask your spiritual director or a campus minister for some good titles or you can check out this list here.
  • Try to be in touch with some good friends, with whom you share the same values. You can either pray together sometimes, or take a commitment at the parish together (e.g., helping with teens, Bible study, working in a soup kitchen, etc.), and certainly keep each other accountable for your spiritual life. If you can’t be physically in the same place, at least you can call each other regularly.
  • If you are going to spend time at home, you might find difficulties because you don’t have the St. Mary’s community around. Families are not always supportive of faith, some parishes seem to be less alive than St. Mary's, and you don’t get to see so many young people around. Remember that God is at work also in your parish, in your family and in your home town. Try to see the positive aspects there, and to think of that as an opportunity to give something of what you have received here at St. Mary’s during the semester. With your family, try to be strong about your decisions, but also understanding of where they are at and not judgmental. You can be a witness to them, with your peace and gentleness.
Have a Merry Christmas and we are praying for all of you..

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