Monday, August 20, 2012

Five habits of a successful Catholic student

"You can do it!" Your personal Papal motivation. 
In 1989, Stephen Covey published a book called Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. It was an overnight sensation because it's approach was so simple: if people would develop the seven habits that Covey proposed, their chances of being successful would increase.

There's a lot of truth to that.

Every college student reading this, new or returning, is in a similar position: you all can start anew and make of this semester what you want. You're gifted in college with a seemingly inexhaustible number of possible ways to make your mark. And the decisions that you make will make their mark on you, and will help shape the person you'll become. The time-tested advice is that you should take advantage of these opportunities, make the most of them, establish good habits now.

Look, you're gonna make mistakes. You're going to disappoint yourself and others. Unexpected pitfalls await. Unexpected blessings await you as well. But the one gift that you've brought to college with you that will help you in any of the situations you're likely to face - good or bad -  is your Catholic faith. Trust me.

The very same Catholic faith that nurtured the early Christians who faced state-sponsored persecution and martyrdom. The same Catholic faith that has inspired countless of musicians, artists, poets and writers; that has encouraged and emboldened those who made (and continue to make) scientific and medical discoveries. You share it as well. But you must care for it.

Here are the Five Habits of Highly Successful Catholic Students:

  1. Daily Prayer. Establish the habit of daily prayer. Start out with an Our Father and a Hail Mary before bed each night. Grow from there. 
  2. Examination of Conscience and Confession. Establish the habit of daily examining your conscience and, when needed, going to Confession.
  3. Mass Attendance. Establish the habit of going to Mass every Sunday. That's right. You're a big boy or girl now. I said every Sunday. Why? Because that's the teaching of the Church. And because the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints. So don't ever fall into the trap of thinking you're not good enough to go to Mass. 
  4. Campus Ministry Events. Establish the habit of being involved with CCM. The Catholic Campus Ministry at Ole Miss exists to fulfill your spiritual needs, to provide you with the tools that you need to continue to grow in your Catholic faith. Join the Rosary Walk on Thursdays (6:30pm at Pat Lamar Park). Go to Good Cheer (Wednesdays, 7pm at Boure' - starts Aug. 29th). Join an Exalt Small Group (details soon).
  5. Personal Faith Development. Establish the habit of learning more about your faith: pick up a Catholic spiritual classic; add a couple of solid, Catholic sites to your online bookmarks; find a good Catholic study Bible (I'd strongly recommend the Ignatius Catholic Study New Testament).

If you're totally honest with yourself, you know that you've made every effort to be well-rounded in your college experience. You want to do well academically. You want to succeed socially. You want to be body healthy. Don't forget to be spirit healthy, too. It's something (like school, work, friends) that you have to work at. Going back to school is a great time to establish the habits that will build a strong Catholic faith that will last you a lifetime!