Being a college student is not an easy feat: It’s a balancing act on a tightrope. You have to balance classes, friends, family, extracurriculars, and church into a minuscule 24 hours. But, this is your time you get to balance it all on your own and you owe it to yourself to do a great job.
You have the ‘nutrients’ and ‘soil’ you need from home, which allowed you to start growing, now that you are in a new ‘pot’ you can more fully grow into who you are as a person.
Let’s continue with a few more common problems freshman students face, and some advice as to how to overcome them. These problems are attributed to mycollegeguide.org.
Problem #3 Financial Issues
College is expensive. Financial issues can be difficult to navigate. Finances are a huge factor when making decisions and choosing where you go to school. It can get stressful but it is something you can work through and overcome to get the education that you want.
Get help if you need it. All schools have a financial aid office, and they are experts in answering any and all of your questions.
Talk to someone. Talk to your parents if you need to help solve something out. The stress associated with financial problems can be really difficult.
Be thankful. Practice gratitude for the things you have. Don’t forget to thank God every day for the blessings you receive! This advice will help change your outlook on life if practiced consistently.
Get a job! Most schools have work-study programs, and a lot of college towns have jobs for students. Just make sure to balance it properly as to not let your grades suffer as a result.
Problem #4 Problems With Choosing Your Major
Choosing your major is a big decision that can help set your path in life. Some people are born knowing what they want to study while for others its a gradual revelation. Your major is a decision that you should take your time with and be sure about, but know that your job and your life after college won’t be limited by the classes you take in college.
Don’t be afraid to explore. Most majors, unless you are in a specific track, have a lot of flexibility that allows you to take classes that you are interested in different.
Think ahead, if you know there is a specific major you want to get into, speak to advisors and take classes related to it so that you don’t have to lose time studying something you don’t want to.
Ask for help. Many saints are patrons of education and in their divine wisdom, they can offer prayers to help you with your decision. Pray to saints like St. Katherine or the Three Hierarchs: St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory the Theologian. They will help if you ask for it!
Challenges are opportunities for growth! Take stress, channel it and use it to grow. College is a time to learn about yourself and mold yourself into the person you want to become.
Thanks to the 2016-2017 Student Leadership Board, OCF presents to you the newest Praxis Program: There’s a Saint for That. OCF Praxis Programs are designed to help your chapter live out your Orthodox faith on campus and in the world. These are programs you could host on your campus any time of year and with a huge chapter or a tiny chapter!
“There’s a Saint for That” is a simple program any chapter can do to get to know a new saint together. On our website, you’ll find a manual with everything you need: an introduction to intercessory prayer, a five-step template that can be applied to any saint, and a list of saints we think you should get to know. We’ll also be posting a completed packet for a new saint each month this year with all the work done for you. This month, we present to you our patron saint, St. Katherine.
The program is designed to take as little as fifteen minutes or the length of a whole meeting by including a discussion and an akathist. If you have questions on how to implement this program, you can contact your Regional Student Leader.
One thing is education, that you learn to love God. – Mother Gavrilia
As promised, today I’d love to introduce you some of the saints most beloved by students, saints whose prayers have been requested before countless exams and before many a presentation. I’d like to encourage you to not only read their stories, but invite them into your life. I’ve included a troparion for each saint that you could pray as you sit down to your books, when you start off a study group, before you go into class, and before those nasty final exams. Print out their icons with the words to the hymn, and use them as bookmarks in your textbooks so that you are reminded to sanctify your schoolwork with prayer. Create opportunities to converse with the saints, ask their advice, and plead for their prayers!
We LOVE St. Katherine (November 24). She’s the patron saint of OCF, and we’ve written about her example for us before. St. Katherine is loved for so many reasons and is known to intercede on our behalf for many things. For students, she is an example of Mother Gavrilia’s words: she used her first-rate education, eloquence, and wisdom to come to know God and share His Gospel with those around her. She was also young, zealous, and fearless (like many of you, I’m sure)! She wasn’t afraid to stand up to the (male) authorities of her day who not only renounced the Christian message but who sacrificed Christians to their pagan gods. In an age when students are often explicitly asked to keep Christ out of the classroom, St. Katherine’s prayers are even more needed.
Troparion in the Fourth Mode
By your virtues as by rays of the sun you enlightened the unbelieving philosophers, and like the most bright moon you drove away the darkness of disbelief from those walking in the night; you convinced the queen, and also chastised the tyrant, God-summoned bride, blessed Catherine. You hastened with desire to the heavenly bridal chamber of the fairest Bride-groom Christ, and you were crowned by Him with a royal crown; standing before Him with the angels, pray for us who keep your most sacred memory.
St. Justin Martyr (June 1) is another saint we’ve written about before. Like St. Katherine, he received a great education and used his education to share the gospel with others. What’s special about St. Justin is his unwavering certainty of Christ’s truth combined with his ability to see that truth scattered throughout the world in every person, no matter their beliefs or religion. He saw the seeds of the Word even in the pagan philosophy of his day and used what was known to the unbelievers to draw them to belief in Christ. May St. Justin pray for us as we strive to share Christ with fidelity to His truth and real understanding for those who do not yet know Him.
Troparion in the Fourth Mode
O Justin, teacher of divine knowledge, you shone with the radiance of true philosophy. You were wisely armed against the enemy. Confessing the truth you contended alongside the martyrs, with them, ever entreat Christ our God to save our souls!
The Three Hierarchs (January 30), St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, and St. Gregory the Theologian are seen as the greatest of the Church Fathers whose teachings shaped the Orthodox expression of theology as perhaps no others had before them and no others have since. As teachers of the whole Church, we can ask that they become our personal instructors, teaching us through their writings the content of our faith and offering us by their prayers a chance to encounter Christ in our hearts.
Troparion in the First Mode
Let us who love their words gather together and honor with hymns the three great torch-bearers of the triune Godhead: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. These men have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine doctrines. They are sweetly-flowing rivers of wisdom filling all creation with springs of heavenly knowledge. Ceaselessly they intercede for us before the Holy Trinity!
One of the most beloved saints of the modern era, St. John of Kronstadt (December 20) has blessed so many people both in his lifetime and today, especially through his memoir, My Life in Christ. And even though he is now a well-known teacher, pastor, and writer, when he started out, St. John struggled to just get through his studies. You have to read his own words about his anxiety over his studies, his inability to commit his lectures to memory, and his desperate cry to God for help. It’s an amazing confirmation that God listens to our prayers, even prayers for small things like studying and test taking. Ask for St. John’s help especially when you are working on memorization, be it biology terms, history dates, or poetry lines.
Troparion in the First Mode
As a zealous advocate of the Orthodox faith, as a caring Solicitor for the land of Russia, faithful to the rules and image of a pastor, preaching repentance and life in Christ, an awesome servant and administer of God’s sacraments, a daring intercessor for people’s sake, O good and righteous Father John, healer and wonderful miracle-worker, the praise of the town of Kronstadt and decoration of our Church, beseech the All-Merciful God to reconcile the world and to save our souls!
St. Sergius of Radonezh (September 25) provides another incredible example of God’s grace in our studies. Though offered an excellent education as a boy, St. Sergius was unable even to learn to read, despite his best efforts. Desiring desperately to be educated, most especially in the words of Scripture, St. Sergius asked the intercessions of a visiting monk to help him learn to read the Scriptures. By trusting God earnestly and asking for illumination with humility, St. Sergius was granted the ability to read perfectly. St. Sergius went on to live a life of extreme asceticism and was granted the grace to work miracles for the sake and salvation of many. Invite St. Sergius to be near you especially when you are struggling in a course or when you feel like you’re falling behind.
Troparion in the Fourth Mode
A zealot of good deeds and a true warrior of Christ warrior of Christ our God, you struggled greatly against the passions in this passing life; in songs and vigils and fasting you were an image and example to your disciples, thus the most Holy Spirit lived within you, and you were made beautiful by His working. Since you have great boldness before the Holy Trinity, remember the flock which you have wisely gathered, and do not forget to visit your children as you promised, venerable Sergius our father!
Saint Catherine was born in Alexandria, the daughter of Cinstus or Cestus. A virgin with great beauty and wisdom, she was famous for her wealth, noble origin, and education. By her remarkable knowledge, she conquered the passionate and untamed soul of Emperor Maximin. By the strength of her discourses, she reduced to silence rhetors who wished to dispute with her. She obtained the crown of martyrdom about the year 305.1
It is believed that Saint Catherine was martyred in her late teens or early twenties. As a young person, she dedicated her life to learning about Christ and using that knowledge to bring her, and others, closer to Him. How many of us can truly say that we understand our pure Faith, and that, if necessary, we could share the Light of Christ and explain the foundations of our Faith with others? They say knowledge is power—but so often we are swimming against the tide in a time where having faith without knowledge is the norm.Saints of the Church are uniquely special—they were real people, with real struggles and joys, who willingly chose to direct their lives toward Christ. Saint Catherine is no exception. Life circumstances aside, we all have things we can define in our lives as blessings. Saint Catherine was indeed blessed—as the daughter of an Alexandrian governor she was wealthy, beautiful, and highly intelligent. However, as it goes with blessings, when they are given, we are entrusted to not abuse or neglect them. Saint Catherine did neither. With forced exposure to pagan celebrations and many men seeking her hand in marriage, Saint Catherine quickly came to discover that she desired something greater. Her mother, a secret Christian, sent her to her own Spiritual Father for guidance. It was here that Saint Catherine experienced a conversion, was baptized in the Faith, and became a pillar of Christian wisdom. As an educated person to begin with, Catherine’s ability and thirst to articulate the beauty of Orthodoxy was unparalleled. Her love for Christ led to many conversions, including that of fifty of the most learned philosophers and rhetoricians of the Empire, and it also led to her martyrdom.
Let us follow the example of Saint Catherine—study the Faith, love the Church, and become a pillar of Christian wisdom, just as she did at your age. Pair the power of knowledge with your love for Christ and see where it takes you in your journey towards Him.
The marble chest containing the relics of Saint Catherine is located at the south side of the sanctuary in the catholicon of the holy monastery. It is the construction of Procopius the stonecutter, who took nine years to complete the shrine in honor of Saint Catherine. This shrine replaced the earlier marble chest, which is preserved today in the monastery’s treasury. Inside are to be found two precious reliquaries given by the Russian Empire for this purpose, the one enshrining the precious head of the martyr, and the other her left hand. The relics of Saint Catherine are brought out for the veneration of the faithful on special occasions, at which time each pilgrim is given a silver ring bearing the monogram of the saint, in honor of the ring that Saint Catherine received from Christ. These are preserved by pilgrims as a blessing from the saint.2
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone:
Let us praise the most auspicious bride of Christ, the divine Katherine, protectress of Sinai, our aid and our help. For, she brilliantly silenced the eloquence of the impious by the sword of the spirit, and now, crowned as a martyr, she asks great mercy for all.
If you wish to learn more about the life of Saint Catherine the Great, visit oca.org.
1. Orthodox Eastern Church., Hieromonk, M. S. P., Hookway, C., Rule, M., Burton, J., & Holy Convent of the Annunciation of Our Lady. (1998). The Synaxarion: The lives of the saints of the Orthodox Church. Ormylia, Chalkidike, Greece: Holy Convent of the Annunciation of Our Lady.↩ 2. Found at The Holy Monastery of Mount Sinai.↩