Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Weekly Update from CCM

Brrrrr!  That's all I can say sitting in my cold office in Cullowhee this afternoon, watching the snow flurries dance outside my window.  I hope you all are enjoying advising day and taking advantage of the day without classes to stay warm, get caught up on work, and maybe enjoy a hot cocoa.

This is an exciting week, so let's get right to it!

Oct. 31 is Halloween!  We are celebrating in style at the Catholic Center.  Plan on enjoying a home cooked lasagna feast with us at 6:30pm, and then after we'll scare away any ghoulies and ghosties with some holy Halloween fun.  Wear a costume, because we'll have a costume contest.  We'll also be carving our jack-o-lantern, enjoying some S'mores by the fire, playing fun Halloween games, and more!  So come, let your hair down and relax with your friends from CCM.

This Thursday is All Saints Day, which is a holy day of obligation.  The great solemnity of All Saints is, of course, where we get Halloween.  An archaic name for All Saints Day is All Hallows Day (a "hallowed" person being someone holy and revered; we still use this word in the Lord's Prayer, "Hallowed be thy name").  So the night before All Hallows Day is All Hallows Eve, which was contracted to Hallowe'en.  Now, we would think it pretty silly for someone to celebrate Christmas Eve while ignoring Christmas itself.  So let's not get so caught up in celebrating All Hallows Eve that we forget about All Hallows Day.

It has been a custom in the Church from the beginning to honor saints and martyrs with a special feast, usually on the anniversary of their death.  However, it did not take long for there to be more Christian martyrs than there are days in the year.  Especially under some of the early Roman persecutions, many Christians would die together on the same day.  And so joint celebrations for many saints together were quite common.  By the end of the fourth century, many bishops in the Church would mark a day to celebrate all the saints, so that there would not be any deficiency in our remembrances.  This might be celebrated on different days depending on the local church.  In the early eighth century, Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel in St. Peter's Basilica to All The Saints on November 1.  The anniversary of that date was remembered in Rome, and then about 100 years later Pope Gregory IV extended that celebration to the entire Church.  

It is a wonderful day for us not only to remember and celebrate the faithful departed, but also to rejoice in their victory, and pray for their intercession and support for us as we make our own Christian journey in this life.  Our goal is to be with them, after all, so let's ask their help in getting there!  As I said, it is a holy day of obligation which means, like Sunday, Catholics are obliged to attend Mass if at all possible.  There is no Mass on campus that day; Masses at St. Mary's will be offered at 9:00am and 6:00pm.  Anyone needing a ride from campus (or who can offer a ride) is asked to post a message to our Facebook group.

November 2 is All Soul's Day.  Similar to All Saints Day, All Soul's Day is a day set aside where we remember all of our departed friends and family, those sainted or not.  We remember their lives, and we also pray for the souls in purgatory.  Prayer for the souls in purgatory is one of the spiritual works of mercy and is something we are all encouraged to do.  The Bible says it is a "holy and pious thought" to pray for the dead (2 Macc 12:44-45).  St. Paul gives us an example to follow when he prays for his dead friend, Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 1:16-18).  So let us offer a special prayer on this day for any in our lives who have died. 

Many parishes, St. Mary's included, keep a "Book of the Dead" by the entrance to the church throughout the month of November.  Those entering the church are invited to inscribe the name of any loved ones who have died during the past year.  The book is kept open, and those people whose names are contained in the book are prayed for throughout the month.

A reminder that every Friday at 3:00pm we have an hour of Scripture Study at the Catholic Center, followed by an hour of Eucharistic Adoration at 4:00pm.  Please join us!

This weekend is our Seeker's Retreat in Black Mountain.  Those of you signed up to attend should have received an email from me last Friday with information.  Please meet at the Catholic Center parking lot at 5:30pm on Friday to carpool.  We will be returning to campus around noon on Sunday.

Rosary at 7:00pm.
Mass at 7:30pm.
Confessions before or after Mass.

I'm hearing that a lot of students are taking advantage of early voting.  That's great!  Election Day is almost upon us, so if you haven't made plans to vote, time is running out!  Last week at our Wednesday dinner, we talked about the "Faithful Citizenship" document issued by the US Catholic Bishops.  Some of you were looking for more information to help you decide how to apply these moral norms in the voting booth.  The following information was printed in last week's issue of the Catholic News Herald, our Diocesan weekly newspaper.  I wanted to pass it on, and hope you find it helpful.  One of the resources they mention, the voter guide produced by Catholic Answers, is available here at the Catholic Center for free.  We have a small basket with copies outside the chapel entrance, so please help yourself.

God bless!

Voter guides and scorecards

102512-voting-stickerAt www.catholicclergy.net/app: The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, a national association of about 600 priests, religious and deacons, has created the first free "Catholic Voting Guide" mobile app for iOS (iPhone, iPod and iPad), Android and Windows mobile devices. This non-partisan guide focuses on six areas of vital concern for Catholics – the right to life, religious liberty, the sanctity of marriage, private property, access to necessary goods, and war – and is designed to help voters form their consciences and quickly learn more about Church teaching, the values of the Gospel, and natural law before evaluating candidates and heading out to the polls. It draws from the U.S. bishops' "Faithful Citizenship" as well as then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's 2004 letter "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion" (Links are available to each).

At www.catholic.com/voteyourfaith: Produced by Catholic Answers, this site gives tips on how to evaluate candidates, and explains why the five "non-negotiables" (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and same-sex "marriage") must be weighted higher than "prudential" policy disagreements on such topics as the death penalty, anti-poverty programs, immigration reform, and international policy. Read the PDF online for free, or order print copies for 40 cents each.

At www.frcaction.org/votertools: Produced by FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the Family Resource Council, find national and state candidate "scorecards," endorsements, and more

At www.citizenlinkvoter.com: An affiliate of Focus on the Family, this site details national, state and local races on the November ballot for every state, including easy-to-read questionnaires of each candidate for offive

At www.nrlc.org: Produced by the National Right to Life Committee, check out "scorecards" on the presidential candidates, as well as House and Senate candidates' voting records on life issues.

At www.politicalresponsibility.com: Priests for Life offers guides on the presidential candidates and comparisons of the two parties' platforms

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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gospel For Today


Today's gospel reading from Mark brings us the story of Bartimaeus, the blind man who encountered Jesus on the road outside of Jericho.  Bartimaeus calls out for pity and so Jesus summons him.  And then our Lord asks a very important question.  "What do you want me to do for you?"

My question to you this day is this:  Why?  Why did Jesus ask this question?

In one regard, it seems a rather ridiculous thing to ask.  If this scene were being replayed as a modern day sketch comedy, one could envision Bartimaeus (or "Barty" as he would no doubt be called), pointing to his eyes and saying, "Hello!  Blind man here!  What do you think I want you to do?"

But considered on a more theological level, the question still seems a bit pointless.  After all, Jesus is the Son of God.  He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, all-knowing, all-seeing, and all that.  Wouldn't He know good and well what Bartimaeus wanted of Him?  Is He just making this poor blind man go through the motions to restore his sight?  What is the purpose of the question?

I ask you to consider this: It is not for Jesus' benefit that He asks this.  Of course, as God Incarnate, Christ already knows the answer.  So if we concede that Jesus does not ask this for his own benefit, then He must be asking for Bartimaeus' benefit.  Jesus asks him, "What do you want me to do for you?" 

Bartimaeus responds with a plea.  "Master, I want to see."

Upon hearing this, Jesus tells him, "Go your way.  Your faith has saved you."  Bartimaeus' simple words, "Master, I want to see," was an expression of his faith in Jesus.  It expressed his faith that Jesus was the Christ, that Jesus possessed the power and authority to heal him, and trust that He would do so.  Jesus asked the question, "What do you want me to do for you?" in order that Bartimaeus might have the opportunity to express his saving faith.

There is a lesson here for us in our prayer life.  How many times have you struggled with prayer, because you don't quite see the point?  How many times have you asked yourself, why bother asking God for help?  He knows I need help already.  He knows what is best for me.  What are my prayers going to do to change that?  

How many times have you put off going to Confession, telling yourself that God already knows you are sorry.  He knows what is in your heart.  Why bother saying it?

Just like Bartimaeus' answer to Christ in today's Gospel, we do not do these things because God needs us to do them, but because we need to do them.  God does not want us to come to Him in prayer for his benefit, but for ours.  We need to say the words.  We need to say, "Father, I need you."  We need to say, "Father, please help me."  We need to say, "Father, I am sorry."  We need to give expression to our thoughts, dreams, sorrows, struggles, joys and repentance.  

As a father myself, I know that when I have caught my children doing something wrong, part of the resolution of that I seek is hearing them admit, in their own words, that they have done wrong and are sorry.  As a father, I know what's best for my children, but when they have wants and desires, I still want them to come to me and ask for those things.  Sometimes the answer may be "no," or "not now," but I still want them to feel comfortable approaching me to ask.  

God is Father to all of us.  We are all his children.  He wants us to communicate with him, to bring him our needs, to express our repentance and regrets, and to express our love.  He wants to hear us say the words, not because He does not already know the content of our hearts, but He wants us to know ourselves, as well.  

Pray.  Pray every day.  It's good for you.  And if you don't know where to start, you can begin with the simple plea of Bartimaeus.  "Master, I want to see."

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Weekly Update from CCM

Good afternoon from your friends at Catholic Campus Ministry!  I hope you had a wonderful Fall Break and are enjoying the beautiful weather and spectacular autumn colors back here in the mountains.  We are back in full swing this week.  Here's our schedule.

Join us for Supper at the Center this Wednesday at 6:30pm.  Sarah & Joseph are cooking for us this week and have a nice cool-weather Fall meal in mind for us.  After dinner, we'll be viewing a short video prepared by the US Bishops about their document, "Faithful Citizenship," followed by a discussion about the role of our faith in our political activity.  Have you checked out all the resources available from the Catholic Bishops at www.faithfulcitizenship.org?  With the next presidential election only a couple of weeks away, do you know enough about the issues to be able to vote your conscience?  The US Bishops have put together some wonderful resources to help you.

"Tea @ 10" at Starbucks here on campus.  Just pop by at 10pm to join us for discussion on any Catholic topic that's on your mind!
Also note: this Thursday I will be out of my office to attend a Faith Formation staff meeting in Charlotte.  

Thank God it's Friday!  Scripture Study at 3pm, followed by an hour of Adoration at 4pm.  Start off your weekend with a Jesus power-charge!

Rosary at 7:00pm.
Mass at 7:30pm.  
Confessions available before or after Mass.

So I like Shock Top beer for its flavor.  But now I have another reason to like them -- they have a pretty cool advertising campaign going on right now.  As I was driving this weekend I saw a billboard of theirs that said, "It's the end of the world.  Live life unfiltered."  I saw that and immediately thought, "Yeah, I want to live my life unfiltered."  And I'm not talking about beer.

Our Catholic faith teaches us that it is the end of the world.  Since the coming of Christ 2000 years ago, we have been living in the end times.  History turned a corner when God became Incarnate and decided to walk around with His creations down here on earth.  Since then we've been living the final chapters of the story.  Now that doesn't mean we think the world will come to an end next week.  The truth is we don't know when it will end.  Even Jesus said that only His Father knew that info!  So it may be tomorrow or it may be ten million years from now.  But we do know one thing for certain  -- the end will come.

And for us, our personal ends may come at any moment.  We may die peacefully in our sleep at the age of 98, or we may die in a car crash this afternoon.  We don't know when our end is coming, but it is coming nonetheless.  We would do well to, then, to live our lives with that in mind and treat each day like it could be our last.  That means really living life to its fullest -- we should live life unfiltered.

You don't need the filter of our modern culture telling you that you need the latest gadget to be happy.  You don't need the filter of movies or tv telling you what "pretty" or "handsome" is supposed to look like, and how you fall short of that ideal.  You don't need the filter of society telling you that you need to have a career before you can marry, or the filter that says two children is more than enough.  

You don't need the filter of selfishness getting between you and true friendship.  You don't need the filter of fear and anxiety keeping you from true greatness.  You don't need the filter of pride keeping you from seeking forgiveness.  You don't need the filter of hatred keeping you from healing.

You don't need that filter that separates out sex from love and marriage and children and family.  You want to see and understand them all as one wonderfully connected reality.  Husbands and wives don't need the filter of contraception preventing their two bodies from becoming one flesh.  

And most of all you don't need whatever filter you have in place that is keeping you from God.  You want to be plugged in, with direct access to His grace.  Open yourself up wide to whatever He has in store for you.  It might be a bit scary, but that's ok.  Trust Him.  You only have one life.  So toss out all these filters and live it with everything you've got.  

God bless,

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

Gospel For Today

Welcome back from Fall Break!  We will have Mass on campus this evening at 7:30pm.  See you there!


Why do bad things happen to good people?  Or to put it another way, why is there evil in the world?  The "problem of evil" has always been a stumbling block for some in their faith (and has indeed kept many away from faith).  If God exists, and he is all knowing, all powerful, in control, eternal and constant; if he is good and just and merciful as we are told; if he truly is Love -- if all this is true then why does evil exist?  We ask this question every time we hear of people dying in natural disasters on the news, or hear of another terrorist attack in the Middle East.  We ask this question when we suffer a loss in our own lives of a family member or a friend.  We ask this question when someone we love is battling a horrible illness.  We ask it when we have a broken heart.  We ask it whenever we suffer.  

Religions throughout time have battled with this principle question.  Different religions have had their own approaches to it.  There have in the past been many dualistic faiths, believing in two different Gods, one good and one evil, battling it out in a cosmic struggle of which we on this earth are only a small part.  But not Christianity.  We believe in one God, who is Love.  We believe in Satan, yes.  "The devil," who is a fallen angel, Lucifer, and his many fallen angels who serve him.   But he is not a rival god.  He is a creation, and even he and his angels only wreak their havoc by the permissive will of God.  

Why is this so?  Why would God allow evil to come into the world?  It is tempting here to point out that evil came into the world not through God's doing, but through our own.  Adam and Eve had it pretty good in the Garden of Eden until they chose to disobey God's will and eat of the forbidden fruit.  But you have to ask why God permitted the serpent to lurk in the garden, or why he even planted that tree there in the first place!

There is a phrase in Christianity; the "Fortunate Fall," or "Happy Fall."  We hear it in the Easter liturgy.  It sounds like an oxymoron.  How could we describe the Fall -- where sin and evil entered into human existence and became part of our lives -- as happy or fortunate?  The reason lies in the person of Jesus Christ.  "O fortunate fall that won for us so great a savior," as the phrase goes.  If we were not fallen we would have had no need for God to show mercy on us by sending us His Son, and we never would have known Christ.

But there is another meaning behind that phrase.  Having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve began to know both good and evil.  From that point on in our human history, evil has been a part of our existence.  It is all around us.  But so, too, is good.  And we have a choice as to which we will allow to reign in our lives.  And because we have the option of evil, our choice for good becomes more meaningful.  After all, there is no heroism in choosing to do good when that is the only choice you can make.  The presence of evil actually elevates the good to a higher level than before.

To put it another way, it makes our love for God real.  I'm sure you have heard the phrase "fair weather friend."  It means someone whose friendship you can only count on in the good times, who won't be there for you in times of trouble or need.  What kind of a friend is that?  Not a good one.  A good friend, a true friend, loves you for who you are, good and bad, and sticks by your side through trials and suffering.

Are we fair weather friends with God?  Do we only love Him when things are going well for us?  If all we experienced in our lives was joy and happiness then we would never know the answer to that.  But that's not how life is.  We all experience suffering at different stages in our lives.  And if we, like Job, continue to love and praise God through suffering, then we know that our love for Him is real.

And so too is His love for us.  And this is where Christianity reveals its beautiful and mystical answer to the "problem of evil."  Many in the Jewish world were waiting on a Messiah who would come and rescue them from all their misery and problems; a Messiah who would make all their pain go away.  But that's not how God chose to do things.  His plan was much more loving.  Jesus came not to abolish suffering, but to suffer with us.

From today's first reading (Is 53:10-11):  "[T]hrough his suffering, my servant shall justify may, and their guilt he shall bear."

From the second reading (Heb 4:14-16):  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way..."

And from the Gospel (Mk 10:35-45):  "For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Jesus asks James and John in that same Gospel passage if they can drink the cup he has to drink, or be baptized with his baptism.  He is referring to his passion on the cross.  We think of "passion" today in terms of romance, but the word actually means to suffer (which those of you with experience of romance no doubt can appreciate).  And so the word compassion actually means "to suffer with."  

God sent His Son to have compassion -- to suffer with us.  And so we are called to have compassion with Christ.  We must accept the invitation he made to James and John and drink from his cup.  Through our baptism we are united in Christ's suffering and death.  And so as Christians, any time we suffer, we know that pain and hardship is linked forever with the suffering of Christ.  It becomes a redemptive suffering.  It burns away the punishment due to our sins, it makes us holier people, and draws us closer to God, if we allow it.  

We have a King who is a servant.  We have a Lord who is Love.  We have a Savior who suffers with us.  Through all the trials in our life, our compassionate God is by our side.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gospel For Today

Reminder -- no Mass on campus this evening, due to Fall Break.


Our first reading today is from the book of Wisdom.  This text is intriguing because of the way it speaks about Wisdom as a person, rather than a trait to obtain.  Traditionally, the Church has understood Wisdom to be another name for the Holy Spirit.  So when we hear today's reading, when we hear "wisdom" we should think "Holy Spirit," which is to say God Himself.

I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.  I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her...  Beyond health and comeliness I loved her... Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.

The message in this passage is clear.  One should prefer the wisdom of God above any earthly joy, whether that be riches, or beauty, or even our health.  But there is a surprise twist at the end -- if we do value God above all these earthly treasures, we will actually get those treasures as a reward!  We will receive "all good things" and "countless riches."  Sounds good to me!

But is it as simple as all of that?  Is that the actual meaning of this passage?  That interpretation sounds very much like a pseudo-theology popular among some evangelical and charismatic Protestants called the "Prosperity Gospel."  It has its roots in the 1950s revival movement, but really became popular after it was adopted by televangelists in the 1980s and by the early years of this century it was being preached by many evangelical missionaries.  If you google "prosperity gospel" or "prosperity theology" you will find many articles about it -- and many articles about why it is so wrong.

The message of the "Prosperity Gospel" movement is relatively simple; obey God's will, live a good, moral, upright Christian life, and you will have success, riches, health and prosperity.  In short, "all good things," and "countless riches" as the book of Wisdom says this morning.  Like most heresies, there is just enough truth in this teaching to make it attractive.

The truth, as taught by the Catholic Church, is that the underlying goal of our moral life is to achieve happiness.  If we live moral lives and follow God's law, we can achieve a natural happiness in this world.  And aided by God's grace, through the Sacraments, we can even hope to achieve supernatural and eternal happiness in the next world.  This is the goal and purpose of our lives.  God did not create the moral law arbitrarily.  He is the author of our beings, he made us a certain way, and he knows what is best for us.  The moral law, as taught by the Catholic Church, is rooted in our human nature.  It's like an operator's guide to being human.  So it is only reasonable to expect that if we live good moral lives that we'll have an easier time of things.  We'll avoid certain troubles, live happier lives in general, and draw closer to God.

But that's not the same as saying we will be wealthy, successful in business, beautiful and healthy.  It does not mean we will never have troubles, suffering or sorrows.  It certainly does not mean we will never know pain.  Just look at the example of Jesus Christ.  No one has ever followed God's will more perfectly, and yet no one has ever suffered so much.  Does this mean the book of Wisdom is wrong?  Not at all.  For one who truly values God's wisdom above all earthly treasure will no doubt feel that "all good things" have come to them, even if they do not have a penny to their name.  This is because that person rightly understands that earthly possessions are not the highest good.

Look at today's Gospel reading from Mark.  Imagine yourself in the position of this man who approached Jesus.  You have followed the commandments of God all your life.  And you have benefited from it. Indeed, you can describe yourself as having "countless riches" like the author of Wisdom.  

You discover Jesus, the Messiah, walking down the road and so you run to him and ask him, face to face, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  

And then, you are truly blessed, because the Lord Himself looks at you and instructs you that all you have to do to gain eternal life is one simple thing.  Just one thing.  "Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor... then come, follow me."  

At these words your heart breaks.  You cast your eyes downward and sadly walk away from Jesus.  Because you cannot bring yourself to do it.  You value your riches far too much, even more than you value eternal life.  You may have been following God's commandments all your life.  But you lack his wisdom -- even when it's staring you in the face.

What is the ultimate good?  What is the source of eternal happiness?  Only God Himself.  We find some measure of joy in earthly pleasures, and that is fine.  God made them for us, and he made us to enjoy them, so it is good that we do.  The mistake is to confuse these earthly gifts with the Giver.  We call them "goods" only because they reflect God's goodness.  But, as Jesus says in the Gospel today, "No one is good but God alone."  When we come to understand this, we would give up any amount of these finite goods in order to obtain the infinite good of eternal life with God.

When we possess God -- which is to say, when we allow God to fully possess us -- then we can enjoy the earthly goods that we have in a healthy and proportionate way.  And more importantly, like the psalmist, we can even learn to be be glad "for the days when you afflicted us, for the years when we saw evil."  For times of trial and suffering can themselves bring us closer to God, and therefore we should give thanks for the hard times, as well.

This is true wisdom.  When we value the Love of God above all things, we learn to see all things through the lens of his love.  We give thanks to him for the good times in our lives and the successes we have.  And we can endure the sufferings that befall us because we know that through it all we have a loving Father who will give us the strength needed to overcome.  Even if we lose everything we have in this life, we still bless the Father's name for we know no one and nothing can separate us from the treasures he has prepared for us in heaven, as long as we stay true to him.  

God bless, and have a wonderful Fall Break.

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

What a FANTASTIC weekend at Folly Beach!  I, fourteen students, and my wife (who acted as our chef-in-residence) made an absolutely wonderful retreat weekend.  All of the student speakers did a fantastic job in witnessing to the faith and sharing their personal testimonies.  The small group discussions were intimate and meaningful, very relationship building.  And God blessed us with perfect weather in an inspiring setting by the shore, in the shadow of a lighthouse, which served during one of our sessions as a visual metaphor of Christ's light shining through the darkness.

For photos of the weekend, please check out our Facebook page.

What's going on this week....
Come to "Supper @ the Center" at 6:30pm!  Sam & Esther will be our cooks for the night, and Ali has our program after.  Wednesday night is a wonderful break in the middle of the week to recharge your faith-battery, catch up with your CCM friends, enjoy table fellowship over a home cooked meal, and learn more about this great Catholic faith.

Our "Tea @ 10" folks are thinking about moving these weekly Catholic discussions over coffee & tea at Starbucks to an earlier time on Thursday nights.  If you'd like to participate, but would prefer an earlier time, please let Hunter Reid know, either in person or message him on Facebook.  (He's posted a poll about this in our Facebook group).  

Our TGIF sessions at the Catholic Center are back online this week!  So please come join us for our Scripture study & discussion at 3pm, and then stick around for Adoration at 4pm.  Start of your weekend by growing closer to Christ, the Word of God and the Bread of Life.

Because of Fall Break, there will be NO MASS ON CAMPUS this coming Sunday, Oct. 14.  Our campus Mass will resume on Oct. 21.  See you then!  For those staying in Cullowhee over break, Mass at St. Mary's is at 9am and 11am on Sunday morning.  There is also an 8pm Vigil Mass on Saturday in Spanish.  If anyone needs a ride from campus, put up a post in our Facebook group and we'll find a way for you to get to Mass.

Our regular weekly schedule of activities at the Catholic Student Center are on hold all next week due to Fall Break.  Your humble campus minister (me!) will be around, however, so just call or text me if you need me.

Coming up.....
Interested in making your own Tie-Dye tshirts?  We are planning a night to do this at the Catholic Center before the App State Game at the end of this month (so we can all wear our awesome new shirts to the game).  We are looking at Monday the 22nd.  More details to come, so stay tuned....

We have a work day scheduled for Habitat on Nov. 10.  Mark your calendars now!  We are limited to the number of students we can take.  We'll post a sign up sheet in the days to come, but in the meantime if you know you want to go, please let Kaitlyn Conger know.

Have a fantastic week, everyone!
God bless,

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

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gospel For Today


The Lord God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a suitable partner for him."

Thus begins the first reading from today's liturgy, from Genesis.  God said that it is not good for man to be alone, and so it is fair to ask why.  Why is that not good?  There is a good chance that about half of those reading this will be introverts, as I am, who often crave their alone time.  We may find ourselves disagreeing with the Lord at those times, saying, "God, it would be very good for me to be alone right about now!"  And indeed those quiet, calm moments of solitude are important for us.  But God is not speaking here of quiet moments.  He is speaking of a life long condition.  And no one desires a life of isolation and loneliness.

Let's back up a minute and look at the source -- the ultimate Source, God Himself.  When God became incarnate in Christ, through Him and through His teachings, He revealed to us something very intimate about Himself.  God showed to us a glimpse of His inner life, and that is that He exists as Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God is three persons, all sharing in the same being, the same existence.  This is a fascinating mystery, which theologians have spent lifetimes contemplating.  One of the most important revelations we have received about God is this: that within His very nature He has relationship.  Indeed, He is relationship.

And God made us in His image.

Now we can see why it is not good for man to be alone.  We were made in the image and likeness of God, who is Relationship.  Therefore we were made also to be in relationship.  The first and most important relationship we can have is that with our Creator.  But we are also called to be in relationship with other children of God.  Only then will we be truly happy, because otherwise there will remain something unfulfilled in our nature.

In this aspect we are very much like God, but of course we differ from God in many ways.  One important difference is that God, in His infinite goodness, can be in a loving relationship with each one of us, every person ever created, in all time.  We, on the other hand, are rather limited.  For example, it would be impossible for anyone to even learn the names of all the 10,000 plus students at WCU, let alone form a loving and meaningful relationship with each and every one of them. 

And so, just as Adam was given a suitable partner by God, we are also called to choose a suitable partner for ourselves.  This is the vocation of marriage.  

God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.

Marriage is a reflection of the Holy Trinity.  Just as God is three persons in one being, so too when we marry, our two distinct persons form a new being, "one flesh," something new in Creation.  And just as the love between the Father and the Son gives rise to the Holy Spirit, the love between a husband and wife is also fruitful, giving rise to a new person, a child.  The family is an image of God.

When a marriage is rooted in the Lord, when husband and wife understand the deep meaning of their vocation, then the family they create is a light shining for the world.  Their relational vocation helps each member of the family to grow in their most important relationship -- their relationship with God.

There is no divorce within God.  The Father will never divorce the Son, nor the Son separate himself from the Holy Spirit.  In God, everything is whole.  And so our human relationships should reflect this -- and this includes our friendships, as well.  They should be holy, and loving.  In all of our human relationships, we should strive to make them instruments of salvation and sanctification.  We need to help one another grow closer to Christ.

Pray today for those seeking a loving relationship.  Pray for those who are dating, that their relationships may be geared toward discerning a loving marriage.  Pray for all marriages that they remain centered in Christ, strong and holy and pure.  And pray for all of those suffering from broken relationships that they may find healing and reconciliation through the mercy of Christ, our Lord.


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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weekly Update from CCM

They say WCU stands for "We Carry Umbrellas" and so far this week that has proven true.  But you know where you *won't* need an umbrella?  Folly Beach this weekend!  For those of you joining us on our fall beach retreat, the weather forecast looks to be sunny, with highs around 80 each day.  God is smiling on us!  For those staying on campus, we pray for great weather in Cullowhee, as well, for Homecoming weekend.

A few announcements...

Note, I will be travelling to Charlotte today to attend a Diocesan campus ministers meeting and so will not be on campus.

Please plan on joining us for supper @ 6:30 at the student center.  Another great meal, and another great faith discussion to follow.  Wednesday nights at CCM are a great way to recharge your battery midway through the week!

Don't forget "Tea @ 10" at Starbucks and 10pm, for those who enjoy in-depth faith talk over coffee.

Because of our beach retreat, our usual "Thank God It's Friday" schedule at the Center is postponed.  There will be NO Scripture Study or Adoration this week.  Thanks!

Beach Retreat:  Those of you who have registered for the Beach Retreat should have received an email from me by now with information about your car pool.  If you have not, please get in touch with me ASAP.  We have had a couple of last minute cancellations, which have opened up space for additional students, if anyone else wants to attend.  Please let me know by Wednesday night's dinner if you would like to join us.
Football Parking:  We need two student volunteers to cover our parking lot from 1 till 3:30 (or whenever the lot fills) this Saturday for the football game.  These event parking fundraisers are important for our ministry at WCU, and pay for our weekly activities.  Many of our normal volunteers will be on the retreat this weekend, so we need some fresh blood to help us out!  Please contact me to volunteer.

Today is the Memorial of the Guardian Angels.  Do you know the prayer, "Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide."  Many of us learned it as children.  

The word "angel" in Greek means "messenger."  Angels are beings of pure spirit (no material bodies) who serve God as intercessors and protectors for us here on earth.  In addition to the archangels mentioned by name in the Bible (Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael), there are many other angels mentioned whose names we do not know.  And our Catholic faith teaches that each one of us has a guardian angel assigned to us during the entire course of our earthly lives.  Jesus says in Matthew 18:10, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father."

These guardian angels help us in unseen ways, assisting us in our work and study, helping us to resist temptation, and protecting us from physical danger.  Whenever you feel troubled, tempted, or in danger, remember that you, too, are aided by an angel who is always both looking at the face of God, as well as over your shoulder.  (How can an angel be in two places at once?  It's amazing what you can do when you don't have a physical body!  A being of pure spirit does not occupy any space at all, and so can be in many different places at the same time.  Pretty neat if you ask me.)

We should each cultivate a relationship with our Guardian Angel.  Pray to him (we use "him" here rather loosely, as obviously non-material beings have no gender).  And thank him for his service to you.  

And please do not think of your guardian angel as some cute and cuddly little cupid sitting at your shoulder.  The actual Biblical description of angels are quite powerful and even frightening for those not prepared to see them.  These are creatures of great strength and holiness.  You have a powerful warrior at your side.

I encourage you to take a few minutes today to pray to your Guardian Angel, and perhaps to a bit of reading about angels in general, so as to get to know them better.  Here are some suggestions.

"Angels" by Fr. William G. Most.

I will be saying a prayer to my Guardian Angel to keep me safe on the road today as I drive to and from Charlotte, and to keep all of us safe as we travel this weekend to Folly Beach to make our annual fall student retreat.  Please join your prayers to mine for us and all travelers who will be coming to WCU for Homecoming this weekend.

May you all have a blessed week!

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