by Margo Borders
The most concrete reality of our lives as students at a university like Boston College is that our lives are focused on study. As the weather starts to the turn colder and leaves fall off the trees, most of us are finding ourselves engulfed in study, filling our days reading and finishing problem sets, or pulling all nighters preparing for our upcoming midterms.
With each passing night at the library, I find myself thinking about what study truly means and how it can relate to my life as a Christian. In so many moments we find ourselves drowning in work, wishing for a break so we can breathe, not to mention find time to pause and think about our spiritual lives. Reflecting on my future after graduation, I question how my studying relates to the fuller reality of my life, especially when my time devoted to studying does not seem directly applicable to my chosen career.
In many ways, study defines the point of life at which we are at as college students. It is our work, and although it seems tedious and burdening, it is a privilege that we can offer up to God. Our study prepares us for an occupation through which we can build up God’s kingdom, and also provides us with small tasks, each to be completed with a certain grace and order for the glory of God.
St. Josemaria Escriva once wrote, “One has to study – to gain the world and conquer it for God. Then we can raise the level of our efforts: we can try to turn the work we do into an encounter with the Lord and the foundation to support those who will follow our way in the future. In this way, study will become prayer.”
Our study completely changes when we regard it as a type of prayer. In any type of prayer, we give to God everything we can, and we do it well for Him. St. Josemaria radically suggests that study gives us the potential to “gain the world and conquer it for God.” In this way, it is not only something we do out of obligation, but also something we do for love of God, and as a way to encounter Him each day. We can even win souls for His kingdom by way of study. Because of this, St. Josemaria goes as far as calling study a “grave obligation.”
Study, as something that prepares us for professional life and helps us to discover our true selves, is ultimately something that will enable us to live our Christian lives in a more full way, spreading the message of Christ in our daily lives. In study and discipline, we gain a love of God that will flow out of ourselves and into our relationships with others.
When we look at study as an integral part of our lives that can and should be sanctified, we can see that it is an agent to bring us closer to Christ. As students as a Jesuit university, we know well that everything that we do is for the greater glory of God. Study can seem like an obstacle to Christ, yet with a simple change in perspective, it can in fact be a road towards Him, and an instrument used to glorify Him.