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Carry your faith with you wherever you go

Kate Barrett | Thursday, March 4, 2010

Listen up, all of you who are packing your suitcases for wherever you’re going next week … or maybe wherever you’re going later today! Oops, did you forget to put your Bible in there? OK, let’s think about this. You’re headed out on Spring Break, which probably means a) a sweet vacation; b) an inspiring service trip; or c) time at home with the family. No matter what your week’s agenda holds, here’s a suggestion to make it even better. Treat yourself to a few minutes of prayer each day. Really.

So let’s say that a few weeks ago you decided to give up a favorite indulgence for Lent, like chocolate, pizza, beer or watching “Chuck” on TV. You may have even specified to yourself, “No desserts … except on Spring Break,” or “No caramel lattes … except during break week.” If you’re cutting yourself a little slack on the sacrifices this week, why not try adding a new luxury? Try even just a few moments a day of quiet prayer. After all, the season of Lent did not develop in the Church as “40 Days in Which Christians Give up Stuff They Like to Make Themselves Miserable.” We’re supposed to use this time to grow closer to God; to seek the ways in which we can prepare our hearts, growing more open to God’s love, to renew the promises of our baptism. Is a Lent without your favorite snacks doing that for you? In all likelihood, you’ll have a little more time on your hands than usual during this Spring Break week. Even if you didn’t even specifically think “prayer” back when you established your Plan for Lent 2010, now’s your chance. Add a little extra prayer every day over break, and who knows? It might stick.

Bring something, a little something, with you wherever you go next week. Whether you’re headed off on a service project, out to a sunny beach, or home to hang out with family and friends, we all need a little time for private prayer. Even if you are on an organized service trip that includes Mass or other prayers, have you found some way to pray each day, just for you yourself alone?

Back to putting that Bible in your suitcase. If yours is big and heavy, like mine; or if you have reason to believe that your Bible may face hazardous conditions while traveling (those airline luggage guys THROW your bags, you know); or if you’re headed someplace with lots of sand and water, you may want to consider some other options. Do you still have the Notre Dame prayer book you received as a freshman? Bring that. Or you can pick up free “Little Black Books” of daily prayer for Lent at CoMo. “Living with Christ,” another free option from Campus Ministry, contains all the Scripture readings for daily and Sunday Mass as well as a variety of other prayers and articles. Both of these, as well as other no-cost Lent resources available at CoMo, have the advantage of extreme portability, and quite frankly, none of them is of heirloom quality, so you won’t mind so much having to mash it into your bag.

Are you bringing your laptop, Blackberry or iPhone with you this week? You can even access prayer websites if you’ll have an internet connection. Try ndprayercast.org or pray.nd.edu for two options that will keep you from feeling homesick while you’re away from the Dome. Other good sites include sacredspace.ie or the “3-minute retreat” at loyolapress.com. For a quick daily suggestion that you can even receive via email, check out bustedhalo.com and click on their really cool Lent calendar called Fast Pray Give.

No matter which you choose, pick some kind of prayer you’ll use, make any book you bring portable enough that it won’t end up on your bed or desk instead of in your suitcase when you’re fighting to get the zipper closed, and then do it. Spend a few minutes listening and conversing with God, reading and praying with His words; enter those websites into your wireless device; find a quiet spot and enjoy a week of days that might just help transform your journey to Easter joy.

This week’s FaithPoint was written by Kate Barrett, director of the Emmaus program in Campus Ministry.  She can be reached at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.