Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

It may not be finals week yet, but it is a week a finals.  This week we will have our final Wednesday night dinner of the semester, and also our final Mass on campus of the semester.  We will be praying for all of you as you finish up those last minute projects and papers and buckle down to study for your exams.  Please remember that times of stress are not occasions to forget your relationship with God.  If anything, you need to rely on Him more.  Take time each day to pray, to talk to your Father and listen to His word for you.  Schedule prayer time before study time, and you will find that these next two weeks will be less stressful and more productive.  Maintaining your faith gives you a perspective that looks beyond the end of the semester into eternity, and helps you to remember what the important things truly are.

Please join us this week for the last Supper @ the Center of the semester!  This Wednesday at 6:30pm we will gather once more for a home cooked meal together.  Afterwards we will relax and have one final night of fun and frivolity before hitting the books.  It's "Whose Line Is It, Anyway," Catholic-style!  The part of Drew Carey will be played by your beloved campus minister.  The contestants will be played by YOU!  Don't miss it!

Eucharistic Adoration from 6-7pm.  Last one of the semester!

Mass at 7:30pm.  Rosary 30 minutes before Mass.  This will be our last Mass on campus until August.  If anyone will be around over the summer and will need a ride to St. Mary's for Sunday Mass, please let me know, or post a message on our Facebook group.

Also on Sunday, the Presbyterian Church is once more hosting a pancake dinner to kick off exam week.  The Presbyterians are sponsoring the event, and Signma Chi is serving.  Pancakes will be available from 7 until 10pm, so after Mass why not walk down the street and enjoy some yummy carbs courtesy of our neighbors?

Even though we will not be running our normal programming during Finals Week, the Catholic Student Center will still be open and I will be around and available for most of the week (I will be in Charlotte on Thursday).

During Finals Week, the library will be open until 4am.  Whee Protect is sponsoring a Buddy Walk from 10pm to 4am so that no one will have to walk back to their dorm alone late at night.  They need volunteers!  If you would like to be a buddy and escort people back to their cars or dorms, please email wheeprotect@email.ecu.edu or go to the Whee Protect OrgSync page to fill our the form.  

On Saturday, May 11, St. Mary's will be offering a special Baccalaureate Mass for the graduates in between the two commencement ceremonies, at 1:00pm.  This Mass will be at the parish and not on campus.  If you are graduating and would like to participate in this Mass, please email me at ccm@wcucatholic.org.  Please let me know how many family/friends may be attending with you, as we will have a small reception afterwards.  Thanks!

Have a blessed week!

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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Gospel For Today


Many of you may know the hymn, "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love."  The title line for this song is taken from today's gospel reading.  

"I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  This is how all will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
-Jn 13:14-35

St. Augustine once said, "Love God; then do as you will."  Was St. Augustine saying that it was permitted for Christians to do anything at all, so long as they loved God?  Was Jesus saying that all the other commandments and moral precepts that came before Him were abolished in place now of the single command to love?  Are the Beatles right in crooning, "All we need is love?"

The answer is no: at least not in the way that moral relativists would like to believe.  Moral relativism is the idea that there is no such thing as a good or evil action.  Our actions may be judged good or evil based on the circumstances of the particular situation, or some other outside criteria, such as our intentions.  Some actions may be wrong in some situations, but the relativist does not believe that any action is necessarily wrong all the time.  The relativist would read the above words of Jesus, or St. Augustine, and see in them permission to do anything whatsoever, so long as one is motivated by love.

Telling a lie then becomes permissible, so long as you are doing it to spare someone's feelings.  

Having sex before marriage is perfectly fine, so long as the two of you love each other.  But why stop there?  Homosexual acts would also be permitted, if done with love.  And who says love has to be limited to two people?  Why not three or more?  There are no limits in the bedroom so long as what you are doing comes from a motivation of love.

The relativists even cite love as a reason for abortion.  "I love my unborn child too much to bring her into such a cruel, overpopulated world.  I love my unborn child too much to raise him in poverty, without a father."  

What about adultery?  "I don't love my wife any longer.  I love my mistress and want to be with her."

Missing Mass on Sunday?  "God knows I love Him.  I don't need to go to Mass and prove it to anyone else.  I want to spend the time with my friends and family, whom I love.  That's what God would really wants me to do."

It becomes possible to justify any sinful action we choose to commit by finding a loving reason for what we do.  And that is easier than you think; we human beings are experts at finding good reasons to do bad things.  No one, after all, wants to commit an evil action.  We all want to do good things.  So when we are tempted to sin (as we are all too often) we first justify the action in our own minds, giving ourselves permission to do what our conscience tells us is wrong.

Jesus and St. Augustine, however, are not moral relativists.  They teach that there are some actions which simply should never be done because they are wrong, because they are beneath our human dignity and so we do damage to ourselves when we perform them.  Jesus did not come to abolish the commandments, but to fulfill them (Mt. 5:17).  Rather than tossing the commandments out the window, Jesus in fact calls for a more strict observance of them. 
The commandments say not to commit adultery, but Jesus says to even look at another woman with lust is to commit adultery in your heart (Mt. 5:27).  The commandments say not to kill.  Jesus wants more. Jesus says not to be angry, not to insult, not to hate (Mt. 5:22).  What Jesus is doing is peeling back the outer surface of the moral law and showing us the purpose behind it.  And that purpose is love.

Jesus teaches us to call God our Father.  We are all His children.  And like any parent, God sets rules in His house.  The rules established by a good parent are not arbitrary.  They exist for a reason.  Parents tell their children not to play in the kitchen around the hot stove, because they do not want their children to be burned.  Parents tell children to stay in the yard when they play outside, because they do not want them to get lost, or hit by a car in the street.  Parents tell children not to eat cookies before dinner because they want them to be healthy.  

Like any good parent, God's rules for us are there for our own good.  They are there because He loves us.  God made us, so it reasons that He knows what makes us tick.  He knows our needs and desires.  He knows what is good and helpful to us, and what will harm us.  And He steers us away from those things that would lead to our harm (even though, like eating cookies before dinner, they may bring pleasure at the time).  

Thou shall not kill.  Why?  Because killing is an extreme violation of the love one human person ought to have for another.  Hatred is also a violation of that love.

Thou shall not commit adultery.  Why?  Because it is a violation of the love husband and wife ought to have for one another.  Lusting after someone else is also a violation of that love.

Each of the commandments can be seen as a commandment of love.  The first three deal with our relationship with God.  If we love God, we will not be tempted to place other gods before Him, or to take His name in vain.  And we will count it a pleasure to give Him worship and adoration on the holy day He set apart for us as a day of rest.

The final seven commandments deal with our relationship with our fellow man.  If we truly love our neighbors we will not want to dishonor them, lie to them, steal from them, kill them, etc.  

This is why St. Augustine can say, "Love God, then do as you will."  Because if we truly love God in our hearts, we will not want to do anything that is against His perfect Divine will.  We will only desire to do what is good, and so our loving desire will lead us to obey His commands, not to disregard them.  

This is why Jesus tells us "Love one another."  Love is the heart of the entire moral law.  If we perfectly love one another, the commandments will take care of themselves.  Sadly, our love for one another is all too often imperfect.  Even the best of human relationships are tarnished by struggles with selfishness, jealousy, resentment, etc.  Perfect love eludes us in this world.  But we try.  We are striving.  We want to grow in love and Jesus is there to help us in that effort.  

He shows us that the commandments are not there to restrict us, but to help us grow in love.  He shows us the ideal love which is self-sacrifice.  He invites us to follow Him in that love.  This is how the world will know we are His disciples.  This is how all things will be made new.  And in that new heaven and new earth promised to us, we will know perfect love, and we will finally be able to reflect that love perfectly in our own lives.

God bless!

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

Happy feast day of St. George!  St. George is patron saint of England and also the name patron of our Holy Father (who before he took the name Francis was George).  In light of this, today is being taken as a holiday by the Vatican.  

All people tend to remember about St. George is the story about him slaying a dragon, and so many dismiss him as a fiction.  In truth, not much is known about him.  But we do know he was a Roman soldier and a Christian who was beheaded for his faith under the Diocletian persecution sometime in the very early fourth century.  In addition to being patron of England, he is also patron of several other countries including Lebanon, Beirut and Canada; he is patron of scouts, knights, saddle makers, and soldiers, as well.  


This Wednesday please join us for a free home cooked meal at 6:30pm.  After dinner, our program will be led by senior Mary Benson.  Mary's been off campus doing an internship all semester, but before she graduates we wanted to have her back!  She'll be leading a discussion about relationships, relating some pitfalls and advice about dating from a Christian perspective.  Should be very interesting, so please come.  We look forward to seeing you!

Adoration in the chapel from 6-7pm.

A concert production of Dead Man Walking will be performed on April 27 at 3pm in the Coulter building.  Many of you will know the 1995 movie of that name staring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.  This opera, like the film, is based on a book by Sister Helen Prejean about her real life work with death row inmates in Louisiana's prisons.  Sister Prejean is expected to be in attendance at the show and will give a Q&A afterwards. For more information see this article. 

Mass at 7:30pm in the chapel.  Rosary 30 minutes before Mass.

We are planning to have a special Baccalaureate Mass at St. Mary's on May 11 at 1:00pm (in between the two commencement ceremonies).  If you would like to be recognized at this Mass, and/or would like to attend with your family, please email me at ccm@wcucatholic.org and let me know how many of your family you expect to attend.  We will have a brief reception after.  

Thanks and have a great week!

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

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Gospel For Today


Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga
and reached Antioch in Pisidia.
On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats.
Acts 13:14

Many of you know I am on the road this weekend.  While I like certain things about travelling - seeing new places, eating different foods, meeting new people - there are also aspects of travelling I don't like.  I suppose I am a homebody at heart; I like my own space where I can be comfortable, I like my routine.  Most of all I like being around my loved ones.  

So when I travel I like to take a bit of home with me.  Many people do.  I know some who always travel with their own pillow because they can just never get comfortable on hotel pillows.  We take our magazines or books to read.  We take along our own music; and of course our laptops and tablets so we can stay connected on email, Facebook, etc.  

Then there are those things we simply cannot be without.  We take care to pack a toothbrush, whatever vitamins or medications we take each day, shampoo and soap, etc.  We would never dream of being on the road without these things because we know that travelling is no excuse not to take care of ourselves.  We may be taking a vacation from our jobs or from school, but we cannot take a vacation from our health and hygiene.  So when we travel, we plan ahead to make sure we have everything we need for the journey.

This applies to our spiritual health, as well.  You don't stop saying your daily prayers simply because you are away from home.  And of course the highest form of prayer that we do as Catholics is the Mass.  When we attend Mass we do not simply pray alone but we join in the whole Church as she prays to God as a united people.  We offer God the most perfect offering of His Son in the Eucharist.  And we do this not only with those fellow Christians sitting in the pews around us, but the those worshiping at every Mass around the globe, past, present and future.

Our participation in Mass is so important that the Church places us under a serious obligation to attend on Sundays, the Lord's Day.  How serious is the obligation?  It is not absolute - legitimate reasons for missing Mass include illness, taking care of someone who is ill, and travelling.  

Travelling?  Yes, only under certain conditions.  If you are travelling in an area where it is physically impossible for you to make your way to a Catholic Mass on Sunday, then your obligation is lifted.  But simply being away from home is not itself an excuse.  There is no "vacation" from being part of the Body of Christ.

I stumbled upon an article on this subject recently from Michelle Arnold.  She is a staff apologist for Catholic Answers in San Diego, CA.  She often deals with variations of this question: "Is it a sin to miss Mass if I am on a cruise?  If I am camping?  If I am on vacation, etc?"  

In the article she relates two different questions she received on the same day.

The first question came in from a young woman who lived in a sparsely Catholic area in Europe. She wanted to attend Mass on an upcoming holy day of obligation, but her only option to get there was to buy a train ticket she could ill afford. She wasn't asking if she could skip Mass; she was asking how to get to Mass when she was facing a real choice between train fare and food.

The second question was from a gentleman who was spending a weekend in my hometown of San Diego, California. He and his wife had family here, so they made regular visits and thus knew the city well. But this time the schedule was crammed. Between a baseball game, golf, and dinner with the in-laws, he just couldn't seem to find a good time to go to Mass. He skipped, and his question was whether or not his obligation to visit family had been sufficient cause to miss Mass.

Juxtaposing these two questions was like switching on a light. It is the difference between the desire to go to Mass while impeded from doing so and the choice to give more weight to lesser obligations than is given to the Mass. The first inquirer really wanted to go to Mass but was facing significant hurdles in getting there; the second inquirer seemed willing to go to Mass if doing so didn't interfere with more desirable activities.

She writes that the bottom line is this:  it is not that hard for most people to get to Mass most of the time.  I agree with her.  The key is to make Mass - and by extension your worship of God - a priority when you schedule your travel itinerary.  Don't make it an afterthought that you try to squeeze in around everything else you'd like to do.  

Today's Gospel reading speaks of Christ as a shepherd.  Those of you who know me and my recent foray into sheep breeding (two lambs born in our flock thus far!) may have been expecting me to wax elegant about shepherding and sheep this week.  I admit, it was tempting.  I will say this, though.  Sheep never take a vacation from being sheep.  They always need a shepherd, especially when they are in an unfamiliar pasture.

I may be a shepherd myself at home with my wee flock; but whether I am home or on the road I am always one of His sheep.  And this Sunday morning I'll be right there with the other sheep, listening to His voice.  I may be in different pews, surrounded by strange faces, but that's still my flock.  It's where I belong.

Jesus said:
"My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me."

John 10:27

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

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Correction to Weekly Update

Dear Students,

A small correction to an item announced in my weekly update email this week.

For those who wish to participate with our CCM group in the Tuck River Clean Up this Saturday, please meet with Kat Sumeracki at the Clock Tower in front of the UC before 11am.  

We are not meeting at the Catholic Student Center and walking over as I previously announced.  Please go directly to the UC lawn and meet at the Clock Tower.  


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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

It was my pleasure and privilege to spend the weekend on Cedar Cliff lake with nine WCU students on retreat.  We were joined by Fr. Shawn O'Neal from St. Joseph's Parish in Bryson City for half the day on Saturday.  It was a relaxing time of learning about God's mercy and forgiveness, His love for us, and the importance of being able to forgive others in our lives.  It was also a great time of bonding and fellowship.  Thanks to all the students who worked hard to make it a success, especially our Peer Ministry Council members.  And thanks to all of those who attended for being open to the Spirit and participating in our retreat.

Today:  We are doing some "Spring Cleaning" at the Catholic Student Center today.  It's an ongoing effort with lots to do inside and out.  If you have any free time between classes please drop by and lend a hand!

Tonight at 7pm will be Part II of St. Mary's Parish Mission, with a prayer service led by Franciscan Friar John Anglin.  The theme tonight will be mercy and forgiveness, with an opportunity for confession after the prayer service.

Wednesday:  Believe it or not there are only three Wednesday dinners between now and the end of the semester.  Rebecca is our chef this week, and Alex will be leading our after dinner program.  Please come and join us.  

Also, make note that we will be hosting a film crew from the Diocese this Wednesday who will be interviewing your campus minister and a few students about campus ministry for an upcoming Diocesan promotional video.  So if you happen to pop by and see some strange people with cameras and lights hanging about, don't panic. :-)

Thursday:  Eucharistic Adoration from 6-7pm.  Please come!

Saturday:  This Saturday is the 26th annual Tuckaseegee River Clean Up!  We'd like to get a whole group from CCM to participate.  If you'd like to join us, come meet at the Student Center at 11am and we'll walk to the UC together to register, and be transported to the river from there.  Wear work clothes and sunscreen!  For more information click here.

Sunday:  Mass is at 7:30pm with Rosary 30 min before Mass.  

Finally, please join with our entire community in prayer for the victims of the tragic bombing in Boston yesterday.  It is a truism that there will always be evil in this world, always people who succumb to selfishness, fear and ideology, instead of selflessness, love and compassion.  So while it is no surprise when this sort of atrocity takes place, it is nevertheless always sad.  We take heart in the large numbers of people who ran toward the scene, not away from it, willing to put their own lives at risk to help those in need.  This is a much better example of what humanity is capable of, an example of self-sacrifice and love.  This is the example of Christ, who came not to abolish suffering and pain, but to endure it with us and make it the very means of our own salvation.  People who wonder "Where was God?" in the face of this sort of tragedy simply are not looking in the right place.  God was there as comforter, healer, and loving Father.  We pray for His continued comfort for all the victims and their families.

God bless,

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

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gospel For Today


Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast."  

What an ordinary thing to say.  But it is reported in today's gospel reading from John that Jesus did just that.  Of course this was no ordinary breakfast encounter.  This was an encounter with the Risen Lord.  The apostles had seen their Lord, teacher, master and friend die on the cross, and then seen him again appearing in their midst, with those comforting words, "Peace be with you."  

I'm sure they were still not sure what to make of it all.  And so they went back to fishing.  They went back to business as usual.  They carried on.  And when Jesus appeared to them again, they didn't even recognize him.  "The disciples did not realize it was Jesus" speaking to them as they fished, according to the gospel account.  And when they did realize who it was (because John pointed it out to them), the first thing the Risen Lord said to them was, "Come, eat breakfast."  

Sometimes we forget just how ordinary Jesus was.  He is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, that is true.  He is eternally begotten of the Father, the Divine Logos, the Word made flesh -- but he was made flesh.  He was fully human, as well as being fully divine.  He was like us in all things but sin.  And that means that while he walked on earth with us, he got hungry.  And he ate breakfast.  And he no doubt combed his hair, and sweat when he worked hard, and needed to clip his toenails once in a while and did hundreds of other little ordinary things that you and I do each day.

We forget how like us Jesus is.  And like us, he knows betrayal.  Jesus knows what it feels like to be abandoned by his friends, to be disappointed by the ones you love most, and to feel let down.  After all, he was betrayed by one of his twelve hand picked followers, the ones closest to him.  He couldn't count on them to stay awake and pray with him on the hardest night of his life.  He watched them all abandon him -- even deny that they knew him -- at his darkest hour.  The suffering Christ endured on the cross for us was notonly a physical suffering.  Christ had a broken heart.  

That means he knows what your broken heart feels like.  He knows the pain of being abandoned by friends, betrayed by loved ones, and let down by those you count on.  These are, sadly, rather ordinary experiences of human life.  And Jesus went through them.  And that's pretty extraordinary.

Even more extraordinary is Jesus' example of forgiveness.  "Do you love me?" he asks Peter three times -- once for each time Peter denied him.  "Do you love me?"  "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you," Peter replies.  He is forgiven.  Healing has been found.  And Jesus takes this sinner, this man who publicly denied him, and makes him chief shepherd of his flock.  

This is the example Jesus leaves us.  "Forgive us our trespasses," he teaches us to pray, "but only as we forgive those who trespass against us."  He wants us to be a forgiving people.  If you have trouble forgiving someone who wronged you, ask Jesus for help.  Ask for his mercy to flow through you and make up for what you are lacking.  This does not mean being weak or letting people walk all over you.  It means being merciful.  It means not carrying hatred or bitterness in your heart.  It means being extraordinary.


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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Good afternoon, students!  Christ is Risen, Alleluia!  The weather lately has been perfect for helping us say, with the psalmist, "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!"  I hope you are getting a chance to enjoy it.

Our schedule for this week...

Please join us for a home cooked meal at 6:30pm.  If the weather is nice again, we can eat outside.  Rebecca has a fun game night planned for us this week, so come relax with us, and enjoy one another's company.  You deserve a break!

Eucharistic Adoration from 6-7pm.  (See more below).

Those of you going on the retreat this weekend will be leaving from the Catholic Student Center at 5:30pm.  Please be on the lookout for an email today with more information.

Rosary at 7:00pm.  Mass at 7:30pm.

Spring cleaning!  On Wednesday, April 17, we will have a film crew from the Diocese visiting up to film a brief segment for an upcoming video which will include campus ministry.  And they have chosen WCU to feature!  We want to be looking out best, so next Tuesday is spring cleaning day!  Please stop by any time between 11 and 3pm to help us out.  Yard work, litter pick up from the parking lot, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and anything else that we can do to help make our center sparkle will be appreciated!  If you can't come between those hours but want to come by early or late to see what help you can offer, please feel free!

On April 20, WCU is once more organizing a Tuckaseegee river clean up day.  I'd like to get a group from CCM to participate.  It would start at 11am.  Please let me know if you are interested, and keep an eye on our Facebook page.

We are very blessed to be able to offer Eucharistic Adoration on a regular basis in our chapel.  This semester it has been Thursday evenings from 6-7pm.  Usually it's just a few people there.  If you are one of those who sees it in the schedule each week and wonders, "What is that all about?" please allow me to share some information taken from the University of Notre Dame's campus ministry web site.

Adoration: What is it?

Simply put, Adoration is prayer. Adoration is worship of Jesus Christ, who is fully present under the appearance of bread at Mass and reserved in tabernacles in Catholic churches and chapels. At Adoration, Jesus comes to meet us in a unique way, face-to-face. Adoration is a time for us to pray, to listen, and to be in his presence.

Where did it come from?

The Bible. After Christ instituted the Eucharist and celebrated the first Mass at the Last Supper, He took his disciples to the Mount of Olives and invited them to stay awake with him, praying there in vigil for what was to come. Christ gave to the disciples, and to all Christians, this pattern of prayer. Jesus' question to his disciples, "Could you not keep watch for one hour?" Could you not keep watch with me? (Mark 14:37) is the same question he asks us today.

How does Eucharistic Adoration relate to my life?

Whether it is homework, service work, faith, athletics, a relationship, friendships, or fun, everything you do can be rooted in Christ through spending time with him in Eucharistic Adoration. Pope John Paul II reiterated Vatican II's proclamation, that the Eucharist is "the Source and Summit of the Christian life." Eucharistic Adoration nourishes us, inspires us, and gives us the strength and grace to make Christ relevant, whether in our school work, our leisure time, our relationships, or our service to those who are in need. By spending time with Jesus in Adoration, we are made more mindful of Him and His presence with us throughout our day.

How is it different than Mass or private prayer in my dorm room?

Prayer can be done at anytime, anywhere, by anyone, and can take on a myriad of forms. You can always find and make time for prayer.

Mass is the perfect prayer. When we gather as a community at Mass, we celebrate God's gift to the Church in giving us his Son. By the words of the priest and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine offered at the altar become Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Jesus' Real Presence remains in the Eucharist, which is reserved in the tabernacle following Mass. Outside of Mass, people are always welcome at any time to pray in our churches and chapels in the presence of Christ.

Eucharistic Adoration is that time set aside when the Eucharist is "exposed" (placed in a monstrance on the altar) so that the faithful may see, pray, and adore our Risen Lord, present under the appearance of simple bread. Jesus is just as present in the tabernacle as in the monstrance, but many believers find comfort and peace when they are able to pray while looking upon Jesus exposed in the monstrance.

What do I do there?

Pray. When you walk into the chapel, you will find resources to help you pray. Sometimes you might read Scripture. You might pray the Rosary or another favorite devotional prayer. You are welcome to bring spiritual reading with you. You also might simply have a conversation with Jesus, telling him about your day, about your needs, and giving him time to speak to your heart. You can also simply engage the silence, waiting and listening for our God to speak in your life.

If Eucharistic Adoration is something you are interested in, but Thursday from 6-7 does not work (you have a class, etc), please do let me know when a better time might be -- after all, there is no rule that says we can only offer it once per week!  And if you cannot stay for the whole hour, even just a few minutes with the Lord can mean so much.  After all, He is timeless.

God bless, and enjoy the day!
Pax Christi,

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

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gospel For Today


Today's first reading is from The Acts of the Apostles.  This is a unique book in the New Testament.  It is not a gospel account of the life of Jesus.  It is not a letter written to a church or an individual.  It is a history, written by Luke, of the earliest days of the Church.  This is the beginning of our story, the story of the Catholic Church.  Reading the book of Acts shows us two things: we see the continuity of the early Church and today's Church, in the apostolic mission, the ordaining of bishops, priests and deacons, the celebration of the breaking of the bread (the Eucharist), baptisms, and even a Church Council; it also shows us the continuity between that early Church and Jesus Christ.

In the reading today from Acts 5:12-17 we hear of gathering crowds.  People are bringing their sick and lame out into the streets, hoping that they might be healed if only they might be touched by the shadow of....  not Jesus.  Peter.  

It reads like a scene from one of the gospels, where the crowds are pressing in on Jesus in expectation of a healing miracle.  But this time it is not the Christ, but the one whom He left in His stead, the one to whom He gave the keys to His Kingdom; Simon the fisherman, now called Peter.  He is the chief shepherd of the flock of Christ.  And it is not because of anything special about Peter that the crowds come to him.  It is because the graces of Christ flow through him.  

So, you see, they still come for Jesus.  They are not called "believers of Peter," but "believers of the Lord."

They come to Peter because as one of the Apostles he has the authority of Jesus Christ.  It is the same authority that Christ possessed of the Father; the authority that allowed Christ to heal, that allowed Him to forgive sins, that allowed Him to teach as He did.  That authority has been handed on to the Apostles.

In today's gospel reading from John we read of Christ appearing to the Apostles after the Resurrection.  "Peace be with you," He says.  "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Then He does a magnificent thing.  Our Lord breathes on them.  We must remember that the root word of "spirit" means "breath" (as in "aspirate").  Jesus breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

God alone has the authority to forgive sins, for when we sin, it is God whom we offend.  Jesus possessed this authority from the Father.  And now Jesus passes it on to men.  

The Apostles are still with us today.  Not the same men, in the flesh, as we read of in Acts.  But their successors are with us.  Just as Jesus sacramentally passed His divine authority to the original Apostles, so they passed that authority on to others, and they to others, down the line of Apostolic Succession to the present day bishops in our Church (and the priests and deacons ordained to aid them in their ministry).

Just as it was in the earliest days of the Church, Jesus Christ is still alive and still ministering to us through His chosen men.  Our faith should be as strong as those who came to Peter and the others for healing and reconciliation.  St. Thomas in today's Gospel refused to believe in the Resurrection until he could touch the wounds of the Risen Lord.  Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."  

That is you and me.  We have not seen the Risen Lord.  But we have seen those who carry out His ministry, with His divine authority, still today.  Hold fast to the bishops.  Hold fast to the Catholic Church.  As St. Ignatius of Antioch (a disciple of St. John, ordained bishop by St. Peter) wrote in the year 110, "Wheresoever the bishop appears, there let the people be; just as wherever Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."

Today is also Divine Mercy Sunday.  Jesus said in a vision to St. Faustina that whoever would not enter in through the door of His Mercy must pass through the door of His Judgment.  To accept Christ's mercy means three things:
1. You must ask for it.
2. You must yourself be merciful to others (allowing Christ's mercy to flow through you).
3. You must trust in Jesus.

If you are unfamiliar with the devotion to Divine Mercy, take a few minutes today to familiarize yourself with it. Here is one helpful link:

St. Mary's will have a Divine Mercy Holy Hour at the parish today at 3:00pm.  And this evening at 7:00 at our student center, in place of our usual rosary before Mass, we will be praying the Divine Mercy chaplet.  (If you are unfamiliar with this prayer, come anyway, we will have guides).  

This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!  
God bless!

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

Alleluia, He is Risen!  Happy Easter to all of you.  I hope you had a wonderful Spring Break and are back on campus safe and sound, and ready to push through to the end of the semester.  It will be here before you know it!

Some notes on this week's schedule:

This week our Wednesday dinner will be cooked by Sarah, with a little help from Hunter and friends.  We are taking advantage of the spring weather and grilling out.  Burgers, home fries, and fresh fruit salad.  Yum!  After dinner, we have a special guest for our program.  Dr. David Dorondo is a professor of history here at WCU.  He's also a Byzantine Rite Catholic.  He will be speaking with us about the various Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church.  (If you find yourself scratching your head and thinking, "What? Eastern Rite Catholics? Huh?" then you definitely need to be at this talk).  Dr. Dorondo is a dynamic speaker whom you do not want to miss.

Eucharistic Adoration from 6-7pm.  

This Sunday is the Second Sunday of Easter.  It is also Divine Mercy Sunday.  We are back on our regular schedule, which means we will have Mass at 7:30pm.  However, in recognition of Divine Mercy Sunday, instead of praying our usual Rosary at 7:00, we will be praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  Please join us -- and if you have never prayed the chaplet before, we will have guides to follow, so don't worry.

St. Mary's is holding a special Divine Mercy hour from 3-4pm, to include Eucharistic Adoration as well as the Divine Mercy chaplet.  All are most welcome to attend that, as well.

The Cat Fair which was cancelled previously due to the weather has been rescheduled for Monday, April 8, from 11-3pm.  We need students to help man our campus ministry table during those hours, and also students willing to help with set up and take down.  If you can help, please contact me.

Our Spring Retreat on forgiveness is coming up next weekend!  So far ten of you have signed up -- those that have will shortly be receiving an informational email from me.  A reminder that the $20 registration fee is now due.  For anyone who would still like to go, there is room for more!  Just see me about getting signed up.

No, not the Christmas Season - I don't have my holidays mixed up.  I meant the Easter Season!  Yes, it is a whole season in the Church year.  I once read an article by a very misinformed Catholic who did not understand this fact.  She had gone to a Protestant church with a friend on the Sunday after Easter.  At this church they were celebrating "Butterfly Sunday" which she said was a beautiful reminder of the power of Resurrection, using the image of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.  She really liked the service and suggested that the Catholic Church really ought to do something similar, to extend Easter beyond just Easter Sunday so we can give the Resurrection its fair due.

The writer identified herself as a Catholic, but her comments left me wondering how often she makes it to Mass.  We certainly don't need "Butterfly Sunday" to help us extend the Easter holiday.  For us it is a whole season, stretching from Easter Sunday itself for fifty days until Pentecost.  More than that, the eight days from Easter until the next Sunday (the "Octave of Easter") are regarded really as one extended day in the liturgical calendar.  To give an example, in the Liturgy of the Hours (the Divine Office) for Morning Prayer, the psalms and antiphons for each day this week are taken from the Easter Morning Prayer.  It is the same day over and over again.  But unlike "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray, we don't repeat the emergence of a rodent from a den, but the Risen Christ from the Tomb.  We consider this such a seminal event in our faith that one 24 hour day just is not enough!

The Second Sunday of Easter in particular has been designated as Divine Mercy Sunday (far better than "Butterfly Sunday" in my book).  The Divine Mercy devotion is rooted in the diary of a young polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, written in the 1930s.  In it, she recounts many revelations she received about God's mercy.  The message of mercy is that God loves us, no matter how great our sins.  His mercy is stronger than our sins.  If we trust in His mercy, we not only receive His mercy, but we allow it to flow through ourselves and spread to others.  In short, we must ask for God's mercy, we must ourselves be merciful, and we must completely trust in Jesus.

If you are unfamiliar with the Divine Mercy devotion, or the chaplet, here is a great link to an EWTN mini-site with all sorts of information.

Butterflies are beautiful creatures of God - but if I have to choose between them and God's mercy, all I have to say is, "Jesus, I trust in You!"

God bless and have a great week!

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