Many young people will embark this fall on a familiar rite of passage: starting college.
Going off to college comes complete with all the challenges that leaving home, studying hard and making new friends entail.
It is also a time when young Catholics need to consider how they will live out their faith on campus.
How will they keep close to the sacraments? Where will they find a parish community: the chapel on their Catholic campus or the Newman Center at the state university? How can they stand firm in a place where values might run counter to their own?
The following books offer tangible help for the big and little issues that college students face — addressing everything from identifying their life’s vocation to practical tips for surviving when Mom’s not around to cook. These are great resources for this exciting yet challenging transition.
Catholic and College Bound: 5 Challenges and 5 Opportunities
Written by George R. Szews
ACTA Publications, 2008
64 pages, $5.95
Heading for college? Of course, there will be tests. But these tests, according to campus minister Father George Szews, go beyond essay or multiple choice. Up for grabs: the practice and knowledge of your faith, your moral center, the quality and style of your life and your assumptions about family and friends. As college life unfolds, surprises await you. How will you respond?
This slim book lays out a plan of action, starting with claiming your Catholicism and growing in your faith. Never preachy and always encouraging, this book is a must for any Catholic navigating the college experience.
Letters to a Young Catholic
Written by George Weigel
Basic Books, 2005
272 pages, $14.95
"Stuff" matters, according to theologian George Weigel, for truth and love are revealed through the things of the world. And it is in the world — the center of God’s action — where you discover his love that satisfies. You also discover your vocation, that "unique something that only you can be and do." Weigel helps readers to understand their Catholic faith in the world that they see, taste, hear, touch and feel.
The sacraments, with their outward signs, of course, but, also, Chartres Cathedral, the grave of a young priest martyred in Poland, G.K. Chesterton’s favorite pub, and the millions who gather for World Youth Day are just a few of the touchstones Weigel introduces in his guided tour of the Catholic world.
How to Stay Christian in College
written by J. Budziszewski
192 pages, $15.99
"Going to college can be like moving to Mars," the author writes. You find yourself in a foreign land, unfamiliar with the inhabitants, the geography and the culture. Spiritual snares abound. Shucking off your faith in God can seem as easy as slipping off your jacket. Budziszewski, a university professor, should know. He deserted God in college, later accepted Christ, and, much later, around the time this book went to press, converted to Catholicism. His experiences and those of the students he has mentored convince him that it’s possible to remain centered in Christ if you remember whose you are (not who you are!).
Dissecting hostile non-Christian worldviews and myths about love, politics and relationships abounding on campus, the author helps readers to find their bearings and blessings in the collegiate landscape.
Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students
Written by J. Budziszewski
176 pages, $15.99
Provocative questions deserve provocative answers. J. Budziszewski, writing as "Professor Theophilus" (Lover of God), does not disappoint. Theo, for short, is the type of professor who tackles the tough questions college students ask.
To name a few: Why wait until marriage to have sex? What do I do when professors attack my faith? Are there any moral absolutes? Can war be justified? The resulting stories that he crafts — "fiction in the service of real life" — are rooted in the many questions the author received while writing earlier for Boundless, a Christian webzine geared to young adults.
YouCat (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Edited by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
300 pages, $19.95
Written for teens and young adults, endorsed by Pope Benedict, and launched on World Youth Day 2011,YouCat now ranks as the bestselling Catholic book in the world. Doctrine, sacraments, moral life and prayer and spirituality are explored in a lively Q-and-A format, supported by reinforcing quotes from the Bible and saints and references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "This Catechism will not make life easy," Pope Benedict warns in his foreword, "because it will demand of you a new life." The Gospel message always does. It is that same message needed in the world today — and on college campuses.
Read it, study it, and share it with others, the Holy Father urges: "You need to know what you believe."
The Secrets of College Success
Written by Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman
224 pages, $15.95
This manual serves up more than 600 practical tips to help college students find their way and, better yet, succeed academically. Using "insider information," the authors — both college professors — know what is needed for that achievement.
Written in "quick" format (e.g., "The 14 Habits of Top College Students," "6 Things You Didn’t Know About Grading but Really Should," "Top 10 Time-Management Tips — Why It’s Never Good to Procrastinate"), it is humorous, real and motivating.
If you want to stand out in the crowd of nearly 20 million American undergraduate college students, this book will help you make the grade.
Where’s Mom Now That I Need Her? Surviving Away from Home
Written by Kent P. Frandsen, Betty Rae Frandsen, and Kathryn Frandsen
Aspen West Publishing, 2004
324 pages, $16.95
Students (or anyone) living on their own for the first time, on or off campus, will find this book full of helpful advice.
The authors cover all the basics. Cooking is covered: There are simple recipes and a place for you to record family favorites. Other pointers cover cleaning, laundry, household repairs and first aid.
"Mom says" markers throughout the book highlight top tips.
While much of the content can be accessed through the Internet, having everything in one handy volume has its advantages.
This is a must-have how-to for students away from home.
And God bless you in your college career!
The Crawford sisters
write from Pittsburgh.