Life can become a monotonous routine that we are quick to complain about, but it isn’t until we switch gears that we realize how valuable what we once had was. The collegiate rhythm is familiar across America: class schedules, demanding internships, work studies, priceless minutes of cramming and the hours of studying, and a social life that starts at 11pm. Late nights on top of athletic responsibilities, and that go-go-go pace of life.
And your faith? How did that fit into all of it? Maybe it was intertwined in your relationships—your friends held you accountable, your peers initiated faith based conversations, or your campus ministers provided examples and opportunities of what to strive for. Maybe it was easy access to the sacraments, like daily mass at the campus chapel. Maybe your hometown’s mass is incredibly boring and dull and your family doesn’t always go.
I remember clearly how vividly my faith was in college during the school year. Daily mass, weekly rosary groups, late night conversations about beauty and pain and goodness. And then summer rolled around and I became more spiritually dry than the cracked cornfields. My routine was gone.
So how do you keep your faith alive during the summer? Not just alive, but how can you deepen and grow in your faith? Here’s some practical ways to keep nourishing your soul:
1. Set realistic goals
Don’t plan on waking up at 6a.m to pray morning prayer if you know you will just hit snooze. Maybe just on Mondays to start. Or twice a week. But be realistic in how high you set your goals.
2. Make a routine
I’ve had so many students tell me that they fear routine in their spiritual life, but routine isn’t what they are really afraid of. It’s monotony. It’s putting what you feel over what you’re doing. Every Hail Mary on the rosary isn’t going to make you feel great, but it will change your heart. Every daily mass may not make you feel holier, but you’re getting there. Routine is critical for a good spiritual life, and the first month of establishing it is crucial.
3. Be optimistic and upbeat
This was a valuable piece of advice I recently received from a priest. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t make it to weekly confession or whatever. Dust yourself off when you trip. Jesus fell three times so it’s safe to assume we will fall a few more than He did. But don't stay down.
4. Have an accountability buddy
Ask a friend to text you once a week to see if you’re sticking to your Summer Spirituality Plan. I’d be happy to be one of them! A lot of times we go into our darkest moments alone. Think of Jesus on the cross here--even He asked God why He abandoned Him. But that's the thing that the Crucifixion changed. Now we know Jesus is with us when no one else is. We aren't meant to undertake this journey alone, so bring someone along!
Whatever you do, ask for the Holy Spirit to work with you. And hey—if you find yourself succeeding, you should write about it for the Penn Newman blog! Leave suggestions or tips below on how you grow in your faith during the summer!