“God, You know I don’t know what I am doing …” begins “Unprepared for a Test,” one of the more than 60 student-written prayers in Now and Forever, a prayer book for CUA students that the Office of Campus Ministry has devoted more than a year to preparing.
“I am in awe of how our students pray and care for each other,” writes Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., university chaplain and director of the Office of Campus Ministry (known on campus as Father Bob), in the book’s preface. “Now and Forever is just one more way for our students to share their faith with their friends. It is not a scholarly work, but a beautiful venue for our students to share their prayers as they journey through the wonderful and challenging adventure of college life.”
The idea for a prayer book was planted when Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, associate campus minister for community service, showed Father Schlageter an out-of-print prayer book from Marquette University. “I thought a book of prayers which specifically treated issues in the life of young adults would be a great spiritual asset,” the chaplain says. “And young adults find prayers written by their peers much easier to relate to.” Father Schlageter enlisted the help of Rev. Paul Sullins, a CUA professor of sociology, to serve as an editor for the publication.
Father Sullins says he wanted the book to include “prayers that speak to different things that happen in students’ lives” and he also wanted to make available “the ancient traditions and prayers of the Church.”
After soliciting students for any prayers they had written and receiving copyright permission from the International Commission on English in the Liturgy to reprint the Office of Night Prayer (a devotion to which many CUA students are dedicated), Father Schlageter is pleased to finally have a finished product. Four thousand copies of the book were printed in September.
“More students will contribute prayers in the future and this will be a living book that every few years is re-edited and redone,” he says. “It addresses issues and events in a young person’s life that aren’t always addressed in a prayer book. The prayers are common to the lived experience of our students.”
The prayers tackling student-oriented issues include Prayer Before a Game, Before a Class, For a New Relationship, Before Going Out, For My Roommate, For a Late Night of Studying, and When Homesick.
The second half of the 131-page book contains brief biographies of a dozen saints whom CUA students said they most admire. Each biography ends with a short prayer that the reader can use to ask God for the particular virtues exhibited by that saint. A section called Prayers That Have Lasted contains two dozen classics, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the prayers of the rosary.
Every CUA undergraduate will be offered the book, handed to them as part of student resident ministers’ practice of “MOPing” (carrying out a Ministry of Presence) in the residence halls, i.e., visiting with fellow students to talk about faith or about school, or just being a welcoming presence in the dorm.
Father Sullins became involved in this project, he says, because “I think that scholarship or learning is only complete when it’s an act of worship. If we don’t offer what we are learning or doing to God, we are not going to be complete in our learning or working.”
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