Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CCM Weekly Update addendum

One thing that was left out of the weekly schedule update for this week:  The St. Mary's Knights of Columbus are having their LAMB drive this Saturday in front of Harold's Supermarket in Dillsboro.  They are looking for volunteers to help them out - you would essentially be handing out free tootsie rolls to people as they enter or leave the supermarket.  They especially need help from 2-6pm.  If you would like to help out, please let me know.  This would be an especially good opportunity for any young men considering becoming a Knight to meet some local Knights and see them in action.
Pax,
Matt

--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Weekly Update from CCM

Good morning students, on this Feast Day of Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles!  Please join us in offering thanks to God for a wonderful weekend retreat at Folly Beach.  We could not have asked for better weather, a better group of students, or a better time of fellowship with one another and with God.

For those who were unable to be with us on our Fall Retreat (or for those who were and just couldn't get enough) we have another retreat opportunity coming up next month for you.  The annual College Discipleship Retreat sponsored by the Diocese of Charlotte is Nov. 21-23 in Black Mountain, NC.  The theme of the retreat is "The Joy of the Gospel."  We will have students participating from colleges and universities from across the Diocese, so this is a wonderful chance for you to get to know fellow Catholic students and campus ministers from other schools.  The cost is $50 (sponsorships available), and the registration deadline is Nov. 7 so don't delay!  


(I know we have students in the marching band who are leaving for NY on that Sunday.  We will be back before lunch on Sunday the 23rd, so please don't let the NY trip stop you from registering -- we'd love to have you with us!)

Now for this week's schedule...

TUESDAY - TODAY
No Adoration today

Small Group scripture study at 6:30pm in Balsam Lobby.


WEDNESDAY - TOMORROW
Vespers at 6:00pm in the chapel.

Supper @ the Center at 6:30-8:30pm.  Jessica Keene is cooking for us this week.  Also, many students are coming in their Halloween costume, so if you have a costume you'd like to show off, please feel free to wear it!  Fr. Voitus will join us after dinner to lead a discussion about the various Catholic customs around All Saints Day and All Souls Day, which we celebrate this weekend (and which are the origins of Halloween).


THURSDAY
Adoration from noon till 12:30 in the chapel.

Small Group scripture study at 5:30 on the UC Balcony.


SATURDAY
Football Parking Fundraiser.  We need volunteers to help take money and park cars before the football game.  Please contact me if you can spare a couple of hours before the game to help CCM!


SUNDAY
Confessions & Rosary at 3:30pm
Mass at 4:00pm
Credo at 5:15-6:30.  Our topic for the coming week will be on the forgiveness of sins.  Famous Catholic convert G. K. Chesterton was once asked why he become Catholic.  His one-line answer was, "To get my sins forgiven!"  Come learn about the importance of forgiveness after Mass, and bring your questions!


NEXT MONDAY
Simply Stitched meets at Alex Cassell's house at 8:00pm.  Meet at CCM at 7:45 if you need a ride.


A NOTE ABOUT COMMUNITY TABLE
We are scheduled to volunteer at Community Table every Tuesday afternoon during the month of November.  Please meet at 3:00 at CCM for a ride over.  We'll be back on campus shortly after 6:00.  Remember to wear close toed shoes, tie back any long hair, and no tank tops.  


FAITH FACTS
What are the Catholic origins of Halloween?  Many Christians today seem to eschew the observance of Halloween as a pagan holiday.  However, it has its roots in the Christian practice of the Catholic Church (though many of those roots are obscured by modern secular observances of the holiday, just as they are for Christmas, Easter, etc.).  What are those Catholic roots of Halloween?  Fr. Steve Grunow answers this and other questions in this article, entitled, "It's Time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween." 


Until next week!
God Bless,
Matt

--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gospel For Today: 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

THIRTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)

In today's gospel (Mt 22:34-40), Jesus is asked which commandment in the law is the greatest.  Jesus responds by quoting from two Old Testament passages.  The first is Deuteronomy 6:5: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength."  The second is from Leviticus 19:18: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Why these two passages, out of all the books of the law in the Hebrew scriptures?  Because, as Jesus tells us, "The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."  We can see what He means by this if we look at the Ten Commandments in particular.  The first three commandments instruct us how to best love God (having no other gods before Him, not taking His name in vain, and keeping holy His Sabbath), while the last six commandments instruct us in how to love our neighbor (do not steal, lie, commit adultery, murder, covet, etc.).  The fourth commandment serves as a type of hinge between the two: the command to honor your father and mother applies to your heavenly Father as well as your earthly parents.  If we truly strive in our hearts to love God and to love our neighbor, obedience to the other commandments follow naturally.  If we truly love our neighbor, we do not want to steal from him, murder him, lie to him, covet his wife or property, et al.  If we truly love God, we do not want to take his name in vain, worship false gods, etc.  

The problem is that we are flawed and fallen creatures, and do not know how to love perfectly on our own. So the law is there to help us learn how to love our neighbors and love God.  Jesus is pointing out that the command to love lies at the heart of the law, is the reason for the law, and highest goal of the law.  To grow in holiness is to grow in love.  Becoming more holy means learning to love God and neighbor with a more pure and perfect love.

But there is a third love mentioned in these commandments which we can sometimes miss; love of self.  We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. It only follows that if we do not love ourselves we cannot love our neighbors properly.  

This love of self can be problematic for some striving to grow in the Christian life.  Are we not called by Christ to give up ourselves?  Didn't Jesus teach us that the path to holiness involves self-sacrifice?  Didn't He show us that there is no greater love than to lay down your own life for a friend (Jn 15:13)?  Didn't John the Baptist say that "I must decrease" so that Christ may increase (Jn 3:30)?  Didn't St. Paul say that it is "no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20)?  Isn't the Christian life about become less selfish and more self-less?  The answer to all of these questions is, of course, yes.

Isn't self love contrary to the virtue of humility?  Isn't self love the enemy of the love of God and neighbor?  The answer to these questions is no -- at least not proper love of self.  Just as we can love others in a disordered way, we can also love ourselves in a disordered way, and therein lies the problem many of us deal with.  We do not love ourselves as we ought.  How do we love ourselves -- as Christ Himself says we have to do -- properly?  That is to say, how do we love ourselves without being self-centered, selfish, conceited and egotistical? 

Here's the key:  We must love ourselves as God loves us.  Proper self-love begins not by turning our hearts in on ourselves, but by turning our hearts outward to God.  We know and love God, and come to know that God loves us in return.  By doing so we come to know who we are in relation to God (which is, after all, who we truly are in reality).  We discover that God looks upon us and sees someone good; someone worth saving; someone, indeed, worth dying for.  God loves us with a pure, self-giving love.  God loves us with a creating and renewing love.  We can explain the reason for our existence in three simple words: God loves us.    

A proper love of self means loving ourselves not for our own sake, but for God's sake.  We should love ourselves because we are love-able.  This is why sin is so bad -- it tarnishes something that is precious to God and turns us into something less than what we were made to be.  Because God loves us, He wants us to be holy and happy people, the perfect version of ourselves that He holds in His mind as He creates us.   St. Thomas Aquinas, speaking of sin, said that we offend God only when we act against our own good.  Sin offends God because it hurts the people He loves, chiefly the one sinning.  

To love means to desire the good of the beloved.  To love ourselves means desiring our own good.  Our good consists in moving away from sin toward holiness and happiness.  We are creatures beloved by God, and worthy of being loved.  Only when we recognize ourselves as something good and lovable to God can we humbly offer that lovely gift back to Him -- all our heart, all our soul, all our mind -- our total self, made perfect by love.

--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weekly Update from CCM

Good morning, students!  Praise and glory to our Lord Jesus Christ!  I hope you had a wonderful Fall Break and are back now ready to tackle the last half of the semester.  It will be over before you know it.  We are back in our normal routine at CCM and hope to see you at some of our events this week.


TUESDAY - TODAY
Adoration in the chapel from noon till 12:30.

Small group scripture study this evening has been cancelled -- see you next week!


WEDNESDAY - TOMORROW
Vespers in the chapel at 6:00.  Evening Prayer service from the Liturgy of the Hours (the official prayer of the Church)!

Supper @ the Center at 6:30.  Kevin is our chef du jour this week, so come see what he's serving up.  (We'll post it on Facebook tomorrow, for those who just have to know).  Our program leader this week is Pasquale, and we'll be discussing the different types of love.  "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 Jn 4:16).  We hope you can come participate in the discussion.


THURSDAY
Adoration in the chapel from noon till 12:30.

Small Group scripture study from 5:30-6:30 on the UC Balcony.  Bring a friend!


FRIDAY-SUNDAY
Fall Beach Retreat at Folly Beach! Please pray for me and the students who will be away this weekend on retreat.  We'll be learning about how God has revealed His love to us in the scriptures and in our lives and experiencing different types of prayer, all while relaxing and enjoying God's creation in the surf and sand.  There is still room for a couple more students so if you regret not signing up earlier, please contact me - we'd still love to have you!


SATURDAY
Event Parking Fundraiser before the football game, starting at 10:00am.  Anyone who enjoys smiling and taking money is welcome to help us out!  If you are available, please contact me.


SUNDAY
Confession/Rosary at 3:30
Mass at 4:00
Credo after Mass (until roughly 6:30).


NEXT MONDAY
Simply Stitched meets at Alex Cassell's house at 8:00pm.  Meet at CCM at 7:45 if you need a ride.


ALL NOVEMBER
We are signed up to volunteer at Community Table in Sylva every Tuesday in November!  Meet at CCM at 3:00 for a ride over.  We'll be back on campus around 6:00.


COLLEGE DISCIPLESHIP RETREAT
Our annual College Discipleship Retreat is set for Nov. 21-23, 2014 this fall. The location will once again be at Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC.  This year's theme is Evangelii Gaudium, "The Joy of the Gospel!" We hope you join us! The registration deadline is November 7, so don't delay.  Click below for more information or to register.


FAITH FACTS - What is a Synod?
You've probably heard a lot in the news the past couple of weeks about a gathering of bishops in the Vatican called a "Synod."  If you are like a lot of people, you may be wondering just what a Synod is, what it is meant to do, and what authority it carries.  In brief, a synod is an assembly of bishops from around the world who assist the Pope by providing council on important issues facing the Church.  It is NOT the same as an Ecumenical Council and unlike a Council a Synod carries no authority on its own.  But a Synod may have influence on subsequent documents issued by the Pope.  Synods are important in that they allow the Holy Father to hear the experiences, thoughts, and advice from bishops from all over the world.  To read more about synods and specifically the Synod on the Family that just wrapped up in Rome, here is a brief and informative Q&A from the US Bishop's web site:
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/2014-2015-synods-of-bishops-on-the-family.cfm


Until next week!
Pax Christi,
Matt

--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gospel For Today: 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Welcome back from Fall Break!  We will have Mass at our usual time of 4:00pm this afternoon.  Father will be available at 3:30 for confession.  We hope to see you there!

TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)

"Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."  Christ offers these words in today's gospel reading as a clever response to the Pharisees and Herodians (supporters of Roman rule) about whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar.  The question was an attempt to trap Jesus.  If He opposed paying taxes, the Herodians would charge Him with treason.  If Jesus supported the taxes, the Pharisees would claim He was unfaithful to Judaism. 

Jesus refuses to be caught in their Catch-22.  Noting that the coins used to pay the taxes bear the image of Caesar, Christ says that we should give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and give to God what is God's.  If the coin belongs to Caesar because it is made in his image, then we who are made in the image and likeness of God rightfully belong to God.  What Christ is saying is that we should fulfill our rightful civil responsibilities (such as paying taxes), but even more we should fulfill our responsibilities to God who made us, and whose image we bear.

I have occasionally heard this verse used to support a total separation between Church and State.  Understood properly, this concept is good and integral to the idea of religious freedom.  The Church cannot have the State (human government) dictating our religious beliefs and practices.  However, too often today people abuse this concept and suggest that the teachings of the Church, even extending to the moral consciences of believers, should in no way be allowed to influence state policy.  This is a misguided notion.

Let's not mince words.  When people say we should "keep religion out of politics" what they mean is that we should not attempt to legislate morality.  And what they mean by "morality" is sexual morality -- abortion, contraception, homosexuality, divorce, etc. The idea that governments should not legislate morality falls apart when examined.  We expect our government to legislate morality all the time.  We expect there to be laws against theft, murder, fraud, rape, child abuse, etc.  We consider these things crimes because they are grossly immoral.  Yet there are immoral actions that we do not consider crimes, such as telling white lies, being selfish, or gossiping.  If we recognize that government should legislate some moral issues, but not others, we cannot deny that morality plays a part in our political discourse.

Morality deals with human behavior.  Politics deal with the relationships of human beings living in society.  Morality obviously has a role to play in civil government.  And because religion has a great deal to do with morality, it follows that our religious principles will play a role in our political activities.  The question is which immoral actions should be legal and which should not be?  Where do we draw that line?  

St. Augustine makes the point in City of God that it would be a bad idea to make everything which is immoral also illegal.  We are weak creatures who all too often fail to live up to the moral law (we can each think of examples in our own lives).  Subjecting us to legal penalties every time virtue fails us would be placing us under a crushing burden.  On the other hand, St. Augustine recognizes that there are immoral acts which are so harmful to society that they must be forbidden with the force of law in order to protect the common good.  

St. Thomas Aquinas also writes very eloquently on the relationship between civil law and the moral law.  He points out that in order for the laws of man to be just laws they must correspond to the moral law (by which he means natural law).  If any law of man contradicts the moral (natural) law, it is an unjust law and therefore not truly a law at all.  Man is under no obligation to obey an unjust law.  This is because St. Thomas recognizes God as the author of the natural law.  (Another way of saying that with a less theistic bent is that the natural law corresponds to reality).  Unlike God, human beings are capable of making mistakes.  While we need human laws for the good of society, those in authority have a duty to ensure that our laws reflect the natural law.  Our laws should correspond to reality.

These are issues that anyone charged with care of the common good of society must grapple with; and the Church definitely has a role to play in this process.  In the Catholic Church, we have an infallible guide not only in matters of faith but also in morals.  The teachings of the Church help us to determine what is right or wrong.  Civil authorities have the grave responsibility of determining what immoral behavior can be tolerated by society and what immoral behavior is so disruptive to the common good that it must be outlawed.  We should be praying for our civil leaders that they make these decisions with prudence, and always with the love of God and neighbor in mind.

Jesus' words are not an injunction against our faith having any role in our public lives or civil societies.  Far from it.  Rather they are a reminder that we are "in the world," and therefore must respect civil authorities, contribute to society, and do our best to facilitate the common good.  But while doing so we must always keep in mind that we are not "of the world."  We do not belong to this world.  We belong to God.  In following the laws of man we must always keep the law of God in mind.  Obedience to that law is our first duty.  We are made in God's image; it is right that we be rendered back to Him.



--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gospel For Today: 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

REMINDER:  There is no Mass on campus this afternoon, due to Fall Break.  We will have Mass on campus next Sunday, Oct. 19.  (Masses this morning at St. Mary's are at 9:00 and 11:00am).  Also, there are still a few available spaces for our Beach Retreat Oct. 24-26.  Click here to sign up!

TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)
click here for readings

Once again today Jesus uses a parable to teach us about the Kingdom of God.  In our gospel reading today (Mt 22:1-14), Jesus describes a king (God) who throws a wedding feast for His Son (Jesus).  He sends His servants (the prophets) to summon the invited guests (the people of Israel), but they refuse to come.  Some mistreat or even kill the servants, while others just ignore them.  So the king destroys their city (Jerusalem), and sends other servants (the Apostles) out to invite whomever they may find (Jews and Gentiles, people of all nations).  Those who come to the feast unprepared (without a wedding garment) are cast out into the darkness "where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth" (a reference to hell).  

Jesus ends this parable by telling us, "Many are invited, but few are chosen."  In other words, while we are all invited, we have to accept the invitation.  We must also prepare ourselves for the feast by clothing ourselves properly -- in the righteousness, justice, and mercy found in Christ.  Living a life in Christ seems difficult and it certainly has its challenges.  After all, didn't Christ say those who desire to follow Him must take up their cross daily (Lk 9:23)?  But we must remember that Christ also said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Mt 11:30).  There are struggles in living a life of Christian virtue, but the Lord is there with us to help us in those struggles.  This is why St. Paul can say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13).

In a way, the most difficult part about living a life in Christ is actually deciding to do it.  The crucial moment is deciding to trust in God and accept the invitation to come to His feast.  You have to decide that this is something you want to do.  How many fail to do just that? I think it is telling that in Jesus' parable there are two groups of people who refuse the invitation.  There are those who respond violently and attack the prophets (the king's messengers).  We certainly have those today.  We all can think of people who react angrily to the Christian message.  But that's not most people.

What should worry us more are those who refuse the invitation simply because they were too busy.  "Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business" (Mt 22:5).  Note that the text does not say they "refused" the invitation, only that they "ignored" it.  But the end result is the same.  They are excluded from the banquet.  

Why would someone ignore such a privileged invitation from a king?  When a friend sends you a wedding invitation, you make it a priority.  You arrange your busy schedule so that you can attend, maybe even cancelling something else you planned on doing, because you recognize this is important.  You want to celebrate with your friend.  So why ignore God's invitation?  It's a matter of setting priorities.  Yes, sure, a wedding feast sounds nice, but there are crops in the field that need harvesting.  I have a business to run, and my money is not going to count itself.  I have a test to study for.  I have a project to complete.  I have soccer practice.  I have this other party to go to.  My favorite show is on that night.  I have better things to do.

Is this you and I?  Are we ignoring God's invitation?  What else in our lives is so important that we push God aside?  These don't necessarily have to be bad things (though sinful activity does separate us from God and if we are engaged in it, we ought to repent, with God's help).  Working on the farm, managing a business, doing homework, and even spending time relaxing with your friends are all good things that need doing.  So God is not saying we should not do those things.  But we need to have our priorities straight.  We can become so focused on doing good things that we forget about the best thing.  We forget that God is not only the best thing, but in the end, the only thing.  We forget that our worldly cares are all temporary.  They are all passing away.  They seem so pressing to us now, and heaven, by contrast, seems like a retirement home.  We think of heaven as a place of eternal rest.  Eternal rest sounds nice, but it can wait.  We are not ready for that yet, and so we put God on the back burner.  Our faith is something we tell ourselves we'll "get to later," when we "have more time."

But heaven is not a retirement home.  It's certainly not boring.  If anything, it's a party!  Jesus describes heaven as a feast -- and the most celebratory kind of feast, a wedding feast.  "Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast!" (Mt 22:4).  Our reading today from Isaiah describes heaven as "a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines" (Is 25:6).  The RSV translation calls this "a feast of fat things... of fat things full of marrow."  

In other words, heaven is not just a party -- it's a feast of abundance, full of the best of everything you can imagine.  Isn't that worth paying attention to?  Isn't that worth making God a priority in life?  We prioritize the things that are important to us.  But are we prioritizing the good and neglecting the best?  Your faith should be your top priority now.  It does not have to be something you "get to later."   Because God's invitation is now.  His wedding feast is now.  It's not some future promise of pie in the sky.  The table is set.  The wine is being poured.  There is a seat reserved for you.  At every Mass we celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev 19:9), the Eucharist, our heavenly meal of the Body and Blood of Christ (Jn 6:53-58).  And by participating in our liturgical wedding feast now, we prepare ourselves to participate in the feast eternally at the end of time, in unending union with God and all of the saints in heaven.  That's a party I want to be at.  That is an invitation worth accepting.


--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Weekly Update from CCM


Good rainy morning, students!  I'd say right about now the freshmen are learning that WCU really stands for "We Carry Umbrellas."  We invite you to come stay dry at CCM this week.  Come by and pray the rosary in the chapel, for today is the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (more on that at the end of this email).  Or just come by for a cup of coffee or a mug of hot tea, or just to see who else is hanging out.    A couple of times last week students held impromptu movie nights, announcing them on our Facebook Group.  We love seeing students make CCM their home away from home!

We have some great things going on this week.  Here is what's coming up.

TUESDAY - TODAY
Adoration from noon till 12:30 in the chapel.  Join us for thirty minutes of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Community Table service is this afternoon.  This is our first week volunteering for this wonderful local food charity.  Those signed up to help please be at CCM between 3:00 and 3:15.  We need to leave campus no later than 3:15, and will be back on campus between 6:00 and 6:30 (at the latest).  Remember to wear close toed shoes.  We currently have room for one more volunteer so let me know if you are interested.  We hope to be able to do this each week, so let me know if you are interested in future Tuesdays.

Small Group Scripture Study & Discussion at 6:30pm in Balsam Lobby.


WEDNESDAY -TOMORROW
Vespers (Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours) at 6:00pm in the chapel.  You don't have to be a monk to pray like one!

Supper @ the Center from 6:30-8:30pm.  This week Danny and Joseph are making enchiladas for us!  Yum!  After, Ann Marie will lead us in a discussion about Respecting Your Body.  We hope you can join us.


THURSDAY
Adoration from 2:00-2:30pm.  NOTE THE TIME.  (I have an off-campus meeting earlier in the day, and so we are rescheduling the Adoration time for this week only).

Small Group Scripture Study & Discussion at 5:30pm on the UC Balcony (meet just inside on the 2nd floor if it's raining).  


SATURDAY
Football Event Parking.  Noon till 3pm.  If anyone will be remaining on campus this weekend and is available to help with our pr-game event parking fundraiser please let me know!  We could use the help!


SUNDAY
PLEASE NOTE:  There will be no Mass on campus this Sunday due to Fall Break.  For those staying in the area over break, Sunday Mass at St. Mary's is at 9:00am & 11:00am.  If you need a ride from campus (or can offer a ride) please post to our Facebook Group.


NEXT WEEK
Our regular schedule of CCM activities is on hold next week during Fall Break.  Enjoy your break, everyone!


BEACH RETREAT - OCT 24-26
As of today, we only have six spaces available for our Fall Beach Retreat.  Registration is $50 (sponsorships available).  You can register online by clicking here.  Please register by the end of this week.  We will continue taking registrations until all slots are filled, but we will be putting in our t-shirt order on Friday and so we cannot guarantee a retreat t-shirt for any who register after that time.  We all know part of the reason to go on retreat is to get the cool t-shirt, right?  But the more important reason is to take a break from your day-to-day distractions and stress and spend some time reconnecting with God, energizing your faith, and making some great CCM friends in the process.  We hope you can join us!


FAITH FACTS
Today, Oct. 7, the Church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.  This memorial has been celebrated since 1571 when Pope St. Pius V commanded that it be celebrated on the anniversary of the victory of the Christian fleet over the Ottoman Turkish invaders at the naval battle of Lepanto on this date.  That victory was attributed to Christians praying the rosary in advance of the battle.  

There are two elements involved in praying the rosary: vocal prayer and meditation on the mysteries of the life of Christ.  The rosary is a Marian devotion, but as Mary wants only to lead us to her Son, so Marian devotions should also lead us to Christ.  We encourage you to pray the rosary today and ask Mary's intercession in protecting those Christians currently suffering persecution in the Middle East.  If you don't know how to pray the rosary, there is a "how to" sheet linked to below which you can print out.  You can also come by CCM and pick up a pamphlet on the rosary, or ask me or one of the other CCM students.

I hope you each have a wonderful Fall Break and I look forward to seeing you back in the 'Whee the following week at Mass on Oct. 19.

Pax Christi,
Matt

--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gospel For Today: 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Reminder: Father will not be able to hear Confessions today at the usual 3:30pm time due to participation in the Life Chain in Sylva.  He will be here for Mass at 4:00pm and will be available to hear Confessions after Mass for any who need it.  Also, please see the bottom of this email for information about our upcoming Beach Retreat.

TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

This week's Scripture readings once more involve vineyard metaphors.  The first reading from Isaiah 5:1-7 tells of a vineyard that was planted and well cared for.  But when it did not produce the desired fruit, it was allowed to be trampled and grazed upon by animals, making it into a ruin.  Our gospel reading from Matthew 21:33-43 tells of another vineyard that a landowner left to the care of tenants.  When he sent his servants, and later on his very own son, to obtain the produce from the vineyard, the tenants responded by killing them.  

What are the scriptures telling us with these stories?  In the first reading from Isaiah, we are told that the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel. This helps us to understand the gospel reading.  The landowner is God, and the servants he sends to check on his vineyard are the prophets, who were rejected by His people.  Finally God even sends His only begotten Son to them, and they kill Him.  And so in our gospel reading, Jesus tells the chief priests and elders of Israel that "the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit."  

God prepared the people of Israel from the beginning to be the ones to bring salvation into the world.  If you examine the Old Testament, you see God working with His people to make His will -- and His love -- known.  From Adam, through Noah and Abraham, and later Moses and David and Solomon and beyond, the Jewish people were "being prepped," as it were, to receive the Messiah.  And why?  Was it all done just for Israel's benefit?  Is God a Father who shows favoritism?  No, God's plans are much larger than one family, one tribe, one race or even one nation.  God's plans are for an eternal and everlasting Kingdom that would encompass all of creation.

Throughout the history of the Jewish people, we see foreshadowing of Christ.  I'll give just one example.  In Exodus, we find the exciting story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, liberating them from slavery.  You'd think they would be grateful for that.  However, they soon began to grumble and complain.  It was hot out in the desert, they were hungry, and it was starting to appear to some that Moses didn't really know where he was going.  They doubted him.  And they doubted God.  So they rebuked God and began worshiping a different false god, in the golden calf.  After this, Moses was called to mediate between God and the Isaelites to restore their covenant relationship. And from Israel came the Christ, the ultimate mediator between God and all mankind.  

With Christ, God's covenant family, and His Kingdom, is extended to the entire world, even though it sprang from the covenant with Israel.  But not all in Israel would accept the Messiah when He came.  The tenants of the vineyard rejected and killed the Son of the master.  Thus the vineyard is allowed to fall into ruin, and the Kingdom of God is "given to a people that will produce fruit."  That people includes Gentiles and Jews, slave and free, rich and poor, you and I.  That Kingdom today subsists in the Catholic Church (Lumen Gentium 8, Vatican II).  The citizens of that Kingdom are assured of their King's faithfulness and everlasting love for them.

Thus we come to my message for you today.  Allow yourselves to rely on Christ.  St. Paul writes in today's second reading (Phil 4:6-9), "Have no anxiety at all..."  What a message for college students to hear, especially as we move into the second half of the semester with exams, projects, and due dates looming!  What a message for freshmen to hear who are still getting used to life away from home and who may now be feeling the consequences of poor decisions made in the early exhilaration of independence!  What a message for seniors to hear who may have no idea whether a job will be waiting for them after graduation!  What a message for all of us to hear who feel weighed down by today's responsibilities and have no assurance of what tomorrow may bring!

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God."  God has always promised to take care of His people.  Mankind has always struggled to rely on that promise.  The fall of man began with Adam's failure to trust in God's promise to take care of them by ignoring God's instructions to not eat of the tree of knowledge.  Adam caved in to his anxiety, remaining silent and inactive as the serpent tempted his wife and led them to rebellion.  There is not one mention in scripture of Adam asking God for help in his time of need.  Likewise, after Moses freed the Isrealites from Egypt, the people grew anxious and uncertain and they, too, rebelled against God.  They worshiped false idols.  They did not rely on God.  

But Moses interceded for them and so Christ now intercedes for us.  By prayer and petition and thanksgiving, make your requests known to Him.  Give your needs over to Him.  And then trust in Him.  I'm not saying a simple prayer will guarantee you an A on an exam, or fix your boyfriend or girlfriend problems, or solve your roommate issues.  God's plan for you does not always look like you expect it to.  But it's always what is best for you.  And you need to trust in that. You are a citizen of His Kingdom, a member of His family.  He will take care of you.

And so have no anxiety at all.  Easier said than done, right?  How can you keep away those anxious thoughts?  You rebuke them, for they do not come from God.  Focus instead on His blessings.  St. Paul instructs us, "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, whatever is excellent, whatever is worthy of praise... think about these things."  Don't worry. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and seen in Christ, in the Church, in the holy men and women God has placed in your lives.  Then the God of peace will be with you.  Then you will rest in your place in His Kingdom.


Are you interested in learning more about some of the  major figures of the Old Testament, what they reveal about God's loving plan for us, and how they point ultimately to Christ?  How about doing it while relaxing at Folly Beach?  Our annual fall beach retreat is Oct 24-26 and we still have a few open slots for registration.  But you need to register this week!  The fee is $50 (sponsorships are available), and we've put the registration form online to make it easy for you.  Contact me for more details or CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW.

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WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723