Devotions for College

Book Pick: Prayers, Papers Play: Devotions for Every College Student

Prayers, Papers & Play

Devotions for Every College Student

By Barbara Canale

Liguori, 2013

192 pages, $10.99

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Barbara Canale encourages college students to strive for sanctity in her devotional entitled Prayers, Papers & Play: Devotions for Every College Student.

Canale touches on the many ups and downs of collegiate life, such as peer pressure, student stress, campus life and independence. She especially encourages students to place faith and prayer at the top of their to-do lists.

Canale originally wrote the devotions for her daughter while she attended college in northern New York because there wasn’t a Newman Center on campus.

The book’s layout consists of a daily devotion from August-December and January-May, the usual at-college months. She also includes special sections for Christmas and summer breaks. Each day’s reflection comprises a Scripture reference, reflection and prayer. A focus on the lives of the saints helps the reader to understand that holiness is for everyone.

Canale emphasizes the importance of selflessness, unconditional love, honesty, thanksgiving, trust and faithfulness. She also encourages students to lift up every trial and tribulation to Jesus, particularly those associated with homesickness and the stresses of studying.

Canale tells students in her November portion of the book, “Suffering through stress and studies are temporary. What can you do today to minimize the misery? How can you embrace this stage of your life? What blessing from God can you dwell on to get through this difficulty?” Following this excerpt, she adds a small prayer to help struggling students: “Strengthen me, dear Lord, as I struggle through my studies and wrestle to maintain focus on all that is good and right in this world. Keep my motivations and concentration strong. Thank you for reminding me to pray today, for I know that prayer builds resilience. With you at my side, I can do anything.”

This book is perfect for any young college student, particularly those leaving home for the first time. Students will enjoy the personal style of this devotional. Having graduated from college recently, I would have found this book extremely helpful.

The only criticism I have concerning Canale’s work would be its lack of emphasis on the need to discern one’s vocation. College students are in a state of life where discernment is of vital importance. This book could have been a great opportunity for Canale to expand on this topic.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to students. As a university campus minister, if I could buy one copy for every student, I would.

To all parents, campus ministers, priests and religious: Consider purchasing copies of this book for the students involved in your ministries. You are not just purchasing a book — you are purchasing the possibility of leading a young person deeper into his or her faith.

Jacqueline Burkepile is a

campus minister at

St. John Paul II University Parish

and Campus Ministry in

Denton, Texas, which serves the

University of North Texas and

Texas Woman’s University.

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.