Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weekly update from CCM

Dear Students,

As you are all engaged in your exams this week, let me simply take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all of you who have contributed so much to Catholic campus ministry here, and who make it such an every-day joy to be your campus minister.  We have made some wonderful new friends this semester, and we also have the bittersweet occasion to say "good bye and God speed" to friends who are leaving us for the next great chapter in their lives (you know who you are!).  We pray that you continue to flourish, to grow in God's grace, and that you share His great love with all whom you meet in your journey.

As for the rest of us, there are some exciting things happening in our campus ministry next semester!  Here are some important dates to keep in mind:
JAN 13-15: Ski weekend in Boone.  (You need to sign up by the end of this semester if you want to go on this -- email me for more information).
JAN 21-24:  March for Life in Washington, DC.  Contact Alex Cassell for more info.  alcassell1@catamount.wcu.edu
FEB 10-12: Give Your Heart Away service weekend in Hickory.  (More info here.  I have registration forms in my office).
APRIL 20-22:  TENTATIVE date for a college retreat hosted by the Fransiscan Friars of the Renewal.  Location TBA.

We have other great things happening next semester, as well, including a new pro-life initiative on campus involving Live Action and volunteering to support the local Pregnancy Care Center.  To be involved with that effort, please contact Sarah Taylor at setaylor3@catamount.wcu.edu.

We also would like to encourage anyone out there who feels called to "sing a new song to the Lord" or even just "make a joyful noise" to consider being part of our student choir.  Music is a big part of how we worship, as Catholics, but it can only happen with your help.  Please pray over the break if this is a ministry which God is calling you to.  If you can help with music at Mass, I ask that you please contact Joseph Coca at acksno@live.com and get involved!  

Also, if anyone is interested in serving in any other capacity at Mass (as altar server, reader, or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion), please let me know, as I will be drawing up the new schedules for the Spring Semester over break.  If you are not trained in any of these areas, but would like to be, we can do that for you!

And finally, parking stickers for the spring semester for the student center lot are now available.  Parking on our lot is only $50 per semester.  If you'd like to get your's taken care of before you head home, come by the center this week.  

My prayers are with all of you during the exam week.  Please drive safe heading home, and have a wonderful Advent and Christmas season!

Prayer Before a Test

My God, enable me to trust in the good outcome
      of the test I am about to take;
      help me to contribute my own share
      of optimism and confidence.
With your grace, my God,
      I hope to crown my efforts with success.
Keep far from me at this moment
      any presumption that it all depends
      exclusively on me.
You are next to me, my God,
      the necessary and welcome presence
      in all the moments of my life.
I will take this test, my God,
      because it is important
      for my personal development.
My God, be the source of my inspiration
      in my doubts and uncertainties,
      supporting me with your blessing.


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

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gospel For Today


Today is called Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent.  Gaudete is the Latin word for "rejoice" and the name is taken from the Entrance Chant for today's Mass:  Gaudete in Domino semper; iterum dico, gaudete.  Dominus enim prope est.  "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  Indeed, the Lord is near."

The theme of rejoicing is apparent in today's readings from Scripture.  The first reading from Isaiah (Is 61:1-2a, 10-11) includes the proclamation, 'I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul..."

Our response today is also taken from this passage in Isaiah: "My soul rejoices in my God."

The second reading is from 1 Thes 5:16-24 where St. Paul tells us, "Rejoice always."

Our gospel reading is from Jn 1:6-8, 19-23.  Does it, too, speak of rejoicing?  In a round about way, yes.  In today's gospel, people are asking about this John the Baptist fellow.  Who is this man?  Is he Elijah?  Is he a prophet?  Is he the Christ?  John's answer to all of this is a flat out "No!"  So why, then, the Pharisees asked him, are you going around baptizing people if you are not any of these thing?  John told them, "I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."

And this is why we, today, can rejoice.  Because we have recognized the one of whom John spoke.  He is here, among us.  

We have seen the fulfillment of what Isaiah foretold.  We recognize the Christ whom St. Paul proclaims in the second reading. 
Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophetic utterances.  Test everything, retain what is good.  Refrain from every kind of evil.  May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, sould and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.

Christ has come!  He has come for our salvation.  He is faithful.  He will accomplish it.  And so let us rejoice! 

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Weekly Update from CCM

Happy Advent, everyone!  As we celebrate the Second Week of Advent, let us pray that we not only remember with joy and thanksgiving the coming of Christ in history in Bethlehem, and look forward to His coming in glory and majesty at the end of time, but also remember to keep our minds and hearts open to receive His coming each day into our lives.  Come, Lord Jesus!

Things are winding down for the end of the semester -- but I know a lot of you are feeling wound up, trying to complete last minute assignments and prepare for exams next week.  I'd like to invite you to take some time to relax and enjoy the fellowship of friends before exams begin.  Tomorrow night is a great opportunity to do just that.  

Please plan on joining us for our end of year holiday party Wednesday at 6:30pm at the student center.  Jess and Kate are preparing a home-cooked meal for us -- on the menu this week is BREAKFAST (featuring fresh laid eggs from the Newsome farm).  After dinner we will have our annual gift exchange.  Please bring a wrapped gift of up to $5 value to participate.  (I have some wrapping paper at the center if anyone wants to come early to wrap their gift).  This will be our last dinner of the semester so please make it if you can!

This Thursday, Dec. 8, is a holy day of obligation.  It is the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  Many people are confused by that term.  Non-Catholics especially look at the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8 and Christmas on Dec. 25 and think that must have been the shortest gestation in human history!  The Immaculate Conception does not refer to the conception of Jesus, but rather of His mother, Mary, conceived without sin by her parents Joachim and Anne.  This doctrine of the church was defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854 as the belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary was "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

You can read more about this teaching here:

It is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, meaning that - like on Sundays - we are obligated to attend Mass.  We will not have Mass on campus, but there are two opportunities for Mass at St. Mary's, at 9am and 6pm.  If you need a ride to Mass, or if you are able to offer a ride, please post to our Facebook group to coordinate car pools.  Thanks!

The Immaculate Conception will also be the topic of discussion at our regular St. Thomas Aquinas student discussion group Thursday at 7pm.

Did you know that we have an ongoing RCIA group meeting Fridays from 4:45 to 5:45 in the afternoon?  RCIA is the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, and its purpose is to instruct adult converts in the Catholic faith and prepare them spiritually to be received into the Church.  It's also a great opportunity for those already Catholic to refresh their own faith.  Our meetings are open to all.  Is God calling you to learn more about your faith this Advent?

This Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent (called Gaudete Sunday after the first word of the Entrance Chant for that Mass, which is gaudete, or "rejoice").  It marks a shift in our Advent observance from looking forward to Christ's coming in glory, to looking past to His coming in history.  It is also the final Mass on campus of the semester.  Fr. Alex will be unavailable, so we will have a guest priest, Fr. Shawn O'Neal, pastor of St. Joseph's in Bryson City.  Please come celebrate the Holy Eucharist with us.  We will have a special blessing for those graduating this December, as well.  If you would like to be recognized at Mass as a December graduate and you have not already contacted me, please do so this week!

There are so many opportunities to enrich your faith this week!  But I know (and God knows) you have so many other obligations and deadlines at this time of the year.  If it seems like it is all too much to handle, just remember that God does not present you with any challenges that He does not also give you the grace to overcome.  Trust in Him!  And always remember to set aside a few minutes each day to tell Him thank you, that you love Him, and ask for His guidance.

Pray for one another!
Pax Christi,

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

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gospel for Today


There are two prophetic voices most especially associated with the Advent season.  One is from the Old Testament, the other from the New.  Today we hear from both of them in our liturgy.  The first reading this Sunday is from the prophet Isaiah (Is 40:1-5, 9-11).  Our Gospel reading is from Mark 1:1-8 and it begins by quoting part of Isaiah that we hear in the first reading. 

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.  A voice of one crying out in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths."

After quoting the prophet Isaiah, Mark then introduces us to another prophet, John the Baptist, who says, "One mightier than I is coming after me.  I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

John's message is a simple one, and repeated often.  Do not look at me.  Look at Him.  I am not the One.  He is the One.  He is coming.  The one foretold by Isaiah is coming.  Prepare the way of the Lord.

Are you prepared for the coming of the Lord? The second reading today from St. Peter also speaks of preparing for the Lord's coming, not in the past, but at the end of time.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.  Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God... Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.  (2 Pt 3:8-14)

So the theme of Advent continues.  We remember the Lord's coming in history, in Bethlehem.  At the same time we prepare for the Lord's coming at the end of all history, at the end of time.  And how do we prepare?  St. Peter tells us to conduct ourselves in holiness and devotion, so that we may "be found without spot or blemish."  How do we do that?

We "make straight his path" by keeping our lives focused on Him.  We keep ourselves "without spot or blemish" by asking for His mercy and forgiveness when we fail.  Advent is a season of penance.  It is a season for reconciliation.  

This is a time of preparation in many different ways for WCU students.  We are wrapping up our final assignments and projects in all of our classes.  Most are also preparing for exams.  Some are preparing for graduation, and a new chapter in their lives post-college.  In the midst of all these very important preparations, take a few moments today to make sure you are not neglecting to prepare yourself in the most important way.  All of these things, St. Peter reminds us, will one day dissolve away.  Are we prepared to welcome Christ into our lives today?

Maybe you have not been to Mass in a while.  Come back.  Maybe it has been some time since you made your last confession.  Do it.  Don't wait.  The Eucharist is our daily bread, and Confession is our daily bath.  This is the rhythm of the Christian life; it is how we keep ourselves prepared for Christ Jesus.  

Advent is a reminder, and an invitation.  May we always strive to keep our lives focused on the eternal, on what is truly important.  May we always be prepared for Christ.
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723