The fall season is much like a “new year” in many ways. We are starting new jobs or another year of school; it’s a time of transition. If you’re anything like me, there is renewed zeal for holiness and a new courage to step into desires you have for your relationship with Christ. Here are some practical tips on how to maintain your faith life in this new season.
1. Gather the Info
The first step is to know where you are and what is offered. Whether you’re in high school, a new university or seeking a parish, take time to map out your surroundings.
- Where is the nearest parish or the Catholic Center?
- What are the Mass and Confession times offered, and what are their hours of operation?
- Are there other events offered, such as a youth group, Bible study or Theology on Tap?
Once you know your basics, you can make a plan!
2. Schedule It In
I often hear the Benedictines share the importance of having a rule of life. The Latin word for “rule” was originally the word for “trellis” in a vineyard. In the same way a trellis holds up a vine, a rule is our support structure to organize our life around the One who gives us abundant life.
We are made to live an integrated life, one where our faith isn’t in competition with our duties but aligned with them. As we make a plan for our day, we should be intentional and specific about giving everything a time and space.
To do this, schedule:
- Your time for prayer, your time for Mass, your time for Bible study, etc.
- Your time for meals, for working out, for winding down and getting up in the morning.
If it’s not scheduled, it likely won’t happen. Have fun making a plan, and know that things can be flexible as you go.
3. Make a Friend
In Acts 2:42, we’re told of the things that make up the lives of the Apostles. One of them is fellowship.
Community is not a bonus prize to Christianity or a good thing to consider. It’s actually paramount to living a Christian life. We are not meant to live this life alone, for it’s only in communion with others that love is practiced and holiness is grown.
Moreover, it’s the people that we are around that form us. If we want to know who we will become, we can look at the people around us.
If you want to take your faith seriously, surround yourself with like-minded people and find a friend to accompany you in the journey!
- Grab brunch or coffee with someone after Sunday morning Mass
- Join a Bible study
- Notice people in your dorm or neighborhood who also are Catholic
- Attend community events and be intentional with having meaningful conversations
- Invite! Having a spirit of invitation gives the opportunity for relationships to flourish.
We would be completely missing the point if we did steps one through three but neglected our interior life. Faith is Christ’s life in us, so truly at the core of maintaining our faith is prayer!
Prayer IS our relationship to Christ & his Church.
- Relate to him your thoughts, feelings, desires, fears, and joys
- Encounter Christ in the Gospels every day and spend time with him in the scenes of his life
- Take time to journal
In your prayer time, realize that it’s not about what you get out of prayer; it’s simply about being with your Divine Friend.
Fighting Discouragement in Prayer
I know the struggle is real, and we can get discouraged in our lack of follow-through.
St. Paul says, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”
In times of challenge, I encourage you to look interiorly with Jesus and ask:
- Why is prayer so difficult to choose? What is the barrier?
- How do I see Jesus, and how do I see our relationship?
- What voices do I hear when I struggle? Are they voices of the enemy or of the Lord?
Jesus wants to be in the struggle.
My spiritual director always tells me, “Nunc coepi” – “Begin Again!”
When it comes to maintaining our faith life this year, let this be the motto that continues calling you deeper to Jesus with joy.
“Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” – Saint John Paul II