Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Happy Halloween (a couple of days early)!  Which is to say, Happy All Saints Day!  This week we celebrate an important day on the Church calendar, a day set aside to remember all the holy men and women of the Church who do not have their own dedicated feast or memorial.  This practice dates back to the fourth century; the Church had the practice of commemorating martyrs by honoring the on the day of their martyrdom, but eventually the numbers got so high that many had to share a common day.

The date of November 1 comes from the eighth century when Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome to all the saints on that date.  He then extended the date of the celebration to the universal Church.  The choice of the Nov. 1 date, then, had nothing to do with the old Celtic new year celebration of Samhain, which fell on that date.  Pagan belief was that during Samhain, the world of the dead was closest to the world of the living.  So even though these two different traditions are not related, it is fitting that this day be marked as a special time to remember those who have gone before us in faith.  Of course, the saints are not dead but very much alive in Christ, part of the same Body of Christ - the Church - as are we!  

The word "Halloween" comes from an archaic name for All Saints Day - All Hallows Day.  "Hallowed" means "Holy" the same as "Saint."  (We use this word in the Our Father prayer, when we say, "Hallowed by Thy name").  The Vigil of All Saints which takes place the evening before was called All Hallows Eve; this was shortened to Hallowe'en.

THIS WEEK

Wednesday
Come join us for Supper @ the Center at 6:30pm!  Jessica and Kat are teaming up to cook for us - with Jessica's trademark pumpkin crisp for dessert.  After, the two of them will be leading our program, which will have a special Halloween theme this week.  Halloween is supposed to be about honoring the saints, but our secular culture has made it all about ghosts and ghouls, demons and witches and the like.  So what does the Catholic Church teach about these things?  Are they real?  Should we be afraid of them?  What should the Catholic attitude be?  Come learn with us - and wear a costume if you can!  

Thursday
Thursday is Halloween, the vigil of All Saints Day.  All Saints is a Holy Day of Obligation, which means that Catholics are obligated to attend Mass, just as on a Sunday.  We will be offering a Vigil Mass on Thursday at 5:00pm in our chapel, followed by Adoration & Benediction.  NOTE: Last week we advertised this as being at 4:30. We have moved back the time to allow those who get out of class at 4:45 to be able to attend.

Friday
Friday is All Saints Day.  There will be Masses at St. Mary's at 9:00am and 6:00pm in English, and 8:00pm in Spanish.

Saturday
Saturday is All Soul's Day.  Whereas All Saints is a day set aside to honor those blessed souls in heaven, All Souls is a day set aside to pray for those departed in purgatory who are still being purified so that one day they may also joined the blessed in eternal rest and happiness with God.  We will offer an All Soul's Day Mass in our chapel at 12:30pm for any who wish to attend.

Sunday
Sunday Mass at 7:30pm with Rosary and Confession offered half an hour before Mass.  Please stay after for Credo.  This week we'll be talking about the Bible!  What do Catholics believe about the Bible, and how did it come to us in the form we know it today?  Come with your questions, and we'll see you there!

In His Peace!
Matt

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gospel For Today - 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

THIRTIETH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (C)

"The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites."  This is the first line from the first reading today, from Sirach.  The Lord knows no favorites.  Jesus instructs us to call God our Father (Christ used the word Abba, which actually comes closer in meaning to "Daddy" than the more formal "Father").  So we can think of God as the perfect parent, and of course a good parent does not have favorites among his children; he loves them each the same.  In God's case, He loves us each with an infinite love.

We can also think of God having no favorites in a different way. St. Terese of Lisieux, the "Little Flower," is so called because she felt she could not be compared to the great giants of the faith such as St. Terese of Avila or St. John of the Cross (both also members of her Carmelite order).  Those holy people were like giant trees, reaching close to God.  She, on the other hand, was more like the little flower on the forest floor.

But you know what?  The sun shines equally on the giant tree and the little flower.  And so God's grace shines the same on the great and the small alike.  In fact, it is the one who has smallness of spirit, that child-like humility, that can feel and appreciate God's love all the more.  It is the one with child-like humility who recognizes that he or she needs help.  It is the child-like spirit that knows it cannot achieve holiness on its own.  It is the child who looks, with trust and adoration, into his or her father's eyes and says, "Carry me."

The haughty spirit does not ask for help.  And so the haughty do not receive it.  So even though God has no favorites, this is why we read in the scriptures that He especially hears the prayers of the poor, the weak, and the oppressed.  You don't have to be poor, weak or oppressed to be humble before God, but those who are tend to be more inclined to that humility.  They know they need help.  And so they are ready to ask for it.

Today Jesus tells us of two men offering prayers before God.  One, the Pharisee, an intelligent and religious man, even in his prayers of thanksgiving exalts himself by saying how glad he is that he is not like other, weaker and less fortunate men.  Jesus poignantly says the Pharisee "prays to himself."  Even in his prayers, he is self focused.  

But the humble man in Jesus' story prays to God.  And his prayer is simple.  "O God, have mercy on me, a sinner."  It is the prayer of someone who knows he needs help and is not too proud to ask for it.

This is the path to holiness.  This is the path to God.  We are natural creatures with supernatural destinies.  On our own we are not capable of achieving the greatness for which we were made.  Our path to glory begins by asking for help.  God desperately wants to help us to come to Him.  But He is limited by His own respect for us - He will not violate our free will and force Himself on us.  We waits to be invited.  He waits for us to ask Him, "Abba, Daddy... carry me."


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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

Saints alive!  We've got a lot of great saint-inspired activity going on at CCM.  Take a look.

WEDNESDAY
Tomorrow for our fellowship dinner Hunter is cooking for us - it's comfort food night with some home made mac and cheese!  Then Tim has a wonderful interactive program entitled "The Weirdest Saints You've Never Heard Of."  It turns out God can make saints even out of the strangest odd-balls you can think of.  Come learn more!  Dinner is served at 6:30pm, with the program following.

THIS WEEKEND
Those who have signed up for our Beach Retreat, "Saints & Sinners," have a wonderful weekend ahead of us.  Be on the lookout for an update in your email regarding packing list and car pools.  The rest of you, please pray for those of us on retreat.

SUNDAY
Mass as usual at 7:30pm.  Because of the retreat, there will be no Credo after Mass this week.  Rosary & Confession 30 minutes before Mass.

NEXT WEEK
Nov. 1 is All Saints Day, which is a Holy Day of Obligation (and the origin of the Oct. 31 celebration of Halloween, or "All Hallow's Eve").  Our Wednesday night program next week will be Halloween themed.  We will have Mass on campus on Thursday, Oct. 31, at 4:30pm (Vigil for All Saints).  In addition, we will have a special All Souls Mass on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 12:30pm, in Latin.  More info about all of that will be posted on our Facebook group.

DISCIPLESHIP RETREAT
Registration is closed for our Nov. 8-10 College Discipleship Retreat in Black Mountain.  Those who have signed up need to get their registration fee turned in to me by the end of next week. 

ONE CAMPUS ONE PURPOSE
CCM is joining efforts with the Wesley Foundation to sponsor an event for all campus ministries on Nov. 14 called "One Campus One Purpose."  It will be held at Illusions in the UC at 7:00pm and feature music, prayer and discussion.  Mark your calendars now to join us!

SMALL GROUPS
Lastly, remember our small groups that meet Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30pm at various locations around campus.  It's a great way to become part of our Catholic community and delve more deeply into the scriptures.  If you are interested, just contact me or any of the student leaders for more info.

God bless!
Matt

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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Gospel For Today: 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (C)

It's a Friday during Lent and you know you are not supposed to eat meat, but you are riding home from campus with friends who all want to stop at Cook-Out for dinner and there are no non-meat options.  The food smells so good.  Do you eat that burger, or walk across the street to Taco Bell and order a veggie bean burrito?

The school is sponsoring a weekend trip off campus to do a service project.  You'd really like to go, but you look at the itinerary and find out there is no opportunity for you to make it to any Sunday Mass.  You would not be able to fulfill your obligation before God if you went.  But you'd be helping people on the service trip, and God would want that, right?  So what do you choose to do?

Your boyfriend is pushing you to take your relationship in a direction that you know is counter to Catholic morals.  In your head you know it is wrong, but you are afraid of disappointing him.  And a part of you really wants to... it is so easy to forget about your faith.

God knows it is hard.  That is why He enjoins us in the scriptures today to "remain faithful to what you have learned and believed" (2 Tim 3:14).  St. Paul tells us to "be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient."  This is an important reminder for us.  Most of us have no trouble practicing the faith so long as it is convenient.  But as soon as we are challenged, as soon as we face difficulties, or as soon as we are tempted, we falter.  The examples I mentioned above may seem frivolous to some.  But they include some very serious matters.  Attending Mass on Sunday is a serious obligation, and missing Mass for anything less than a serious reason (such as illness) is a grave sin.  Our duty to offer corporate worship as a member of the Body of Christ is a serious duty before God.  Are we too willing to neglect that obligation in favor of a lesser obligation to school, work, or a friend?

Sexual ethics have consequences for us both in this world and in the next.  What the Church teaches carries with it the 2000 year wisdom of the saints as well as natural law moral principles.  We know sex is for building union and for the gift of procreation and so belongs within the context of marriage.  Yet how easy is it to let that go in exchange for temporary satisfaction of our own impulses?

We know in our heads and in our hearts what we ought to do in all these cases.  But we too often lack the will.  We drop the ball, not only in these matters but in so many other ways.  Failing in our faith is so easy.  Staying true to our principles is hard.  Sometimes we may wonder why we bother at all.

We need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that staying true to the faith is hard.  And that's ok.  That's how it's supposed to be.  Anything truly worth doing comes with some difficulty. Any goal worth achieving has to be earned.  If you want to win that marathon, you need to train.  And you don't just train when you feel like it.  You train every day, rain or shine - when it is convenient and inconvenient.  If you want to earn that degree you need to study, and not just when you feel like studying.  That's a sure way to fail out of college.  You need to study when you absolutely don't feel like doing it.  Developing that discipline is how you get the high GPA.  

The same is true of the faith.  It requires discipline.  It requires persistence.  It is hard work sometimes.  But it is worth it.  Practicing the faith only when it is easy requires no faith at all.  Practicing the faith when it is inconvenient, when it is hard, is a real virtue.  God sees your struggle in these cases.  He understand the uphill climb you may be facing.  And He rewards the effort, even if you stumble and make mistakes.  He knows you are trying and will help you do better the next time you find it inconvenient to stay true to Him.

So stay true to God, not only when it is easy but even and especially when it is hard.  Follow the example of Moses in today's first reading.  He knew that as long as he kept his hands raised, the battle would be won.  But his arms grew so tired.  Thankfully he had Aaron and Hur standing on either side of him, holding up his arms.  With the help of faithful friends, Moses remained persistent.  So too you need to have faithful friends who will lift you up and help you to remain true to God in times when you are tempted to give it all up.  You need to have friends who will "convince, reprimand, and encourage" you, as St. Paul says, with patience and with love.  And you need to be that friend to others.

In this way we can each help the other stay true to our faith.  The gospel reading today gives us the famous line when Jesus asks if He will find any faith at all on earth when He returns.  God knows how easy it is to loose faith.  But it is precisely because the faith can be difficult that it is so rewarding.  It is the chance of failure that makes success so sweet.  

Your life is a contest; one with the highest stakes.  The reward you stand to gain at the end if you live it well is ever so much more than a trophy or a diploma.  It is nothing short of perfect and eternal happiness; unending love and joy in full communion with the God who made the Universe.  This is what you were made for.  So don't screw it up.  Be persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient - and especially when it is inconvenient.  Ask for help if you need it; from good faithful friends who can be your support and encouragement, and most of all from God Himself.  Ask for His strength; He will lend it to you.  Ask for His wisdom; He will teach you.  Ask for His love; you already have it.  And if and when you do fail, ask for His mercy; He will forgive you.  

And then get right back up.  Shake it off.  And go on training to be a saint.  It is your destiny.  

God bless,
Matt

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,
Welcome back to the 'Whee and the last half of the semester.  It will fly by quicker than you realize, especially with so many opportunities from Catholic Campus Ministry.

THIS WEEK
Our Wednesday night dinner this week will be prepared by Alex Bogart.  He's making pizza casserole for us.  Sounds intriguing.  It's a pizza!  It's a casserole!  What is it?  Come find out!  After dinner, our program this week will be "Evangelization through the Media," presented by Sarah Taylor.  Catholics are getting more and more involved in modern media outlets - blogs, Catholic tv, Indie film companies, there are "media nuns," and the Pope tweets!  Come learn all about it - and share your own favorite Catholic media outlet.  It all starts this Wednesday at 6:30p.

Our small groups are meeting this week on their regular schedule.  Note that the Monday small group has changed its location to the 3rd floor of the UC (by the theater entrance).  Tuesday's group meets in the Balsam Lobby, and Thursday's group meets on the UC balcony.  The Thursday night graduate student group meets at the Catholic Student Center.  All small groups meet at 6:30p for approximately one hour.  If you have not gotten involved in a small group yet this semester, this is a great time to join up.  Small groups are always open to new members, and no commitment is required.  Come check out a session!

Note: this Thursday I will be travelling to Charlotte for a diocesan faith formation staff meeting, so I will not be in my office.

Mass this Sunday is at 7:30p, as usual.  A reminder that Father Voitus gets here no later than 7pm and is available for Confessions before Mass.  After Mass this week, our Credo session will be about the Holy Spirit (the "mysterious" Person of the Holy Trinity).  

RETREAT OPPORTUNITIES
Our Beach retreat is coming up Oct. 25-27.  For those of you who have registered but not yet paid, the payment deadline is tomorrow.  Please bring your retreat fee with you to Wednesday dinner if you don't get it to me before hand.  Thanks!

The Diocesan College Discipleship Retreat in Black Mountain is Nov. 8-10.  The deadline to register is Oct. 17, which is this Thursday.  Students have already registered from WCU, App, UNCC, Wingate, High Point University, UNCG, UNCA, Davidson and more!  This is a great opportunity to fellowship with Catholic students from across the Diocese.  Don't miss out!  More information, and the registration form, can be found here:
http://www.catholiconcampus.com/retreat

(And if you want to check out some photos from last year's retreat, to get an idea of what it's like, check out our album).  

SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES
We need help!  There are three more home football games on the calendar and we need students to sign up to work event parking.  The dates are Oct. 19, Oct. 26, and Nov. 16.  Selling event parking for these games is one of the best ways we can raise money for Catholic Campus Ministry.  If you value the opportunities that CCM provides, please help us with this very easy fundraiser.  All it takes is showing up a few hours before the game starts to man the parking lot. People pull in and literally give you cash!  It's so easy!  Our event parking fundraiser is down this year because of rain at the last game, so we need to make that up.  And we need your help!  Put you name on the sign up sheet when you come for Wednesday dinner, or email me and I can add your name for you.  Thanks!

A BIG THANKS
To Hunter Reid who worked all during Fall Break to renovate our sacristy cum laundry room.  It looks a thousand times better.  If you have not seen it yet, be sure to check it out!

KEEP IN TOUCH
As always, keep an eye on our Facebook Group for the latest information, including Adoration times and other prayer opportunities.   

Have a blessed week!
Matt


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

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gospel for Today: 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (C)

Both the Old Testament and the Gospel readings today tell stories of miraculous healing.  In our first reading from 2 Kings, Naaman, a Syrian, was healed of his leprosy by following the prophet Elisha's instructions to plunge himself seven times in the Jordan river.  At that time, among the civilizations in the Middle East, each tribe and nation of people had their own god or gods whom they worshiped.  Gods were thought to be tied to particular regions, so many people perceived the God of Israel to be just one national god among many.  But upon being healed, Naaman proclaimed, "Now I know there is no God in all the earth except in Israel."  Naaman even asked for a cartload of Israeli soil to take with him so that he could continue to give worship to Israel's God when he returned home.

In our Gospel reading today from Luke, another foreigner glorifies God after experiencing a miraculous healing.  Jesus heals ten lepers on His way to Jerusalem.  One of them, a Samaritan (remember, those guys despised by the Jews?) came back to Jesus.  The gospel says he "glorified God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him."  Jesus remarks how He healed ten people, but only "this foreigner" returned to give thanks to God.

This is but one of many healing miracles Jesus performs throughout the gospels, and so He is rightly called the Great Physician.  But healing the sick is really incidental to His ministry.  He did not come to heal mankind of our physical ailments.  He came for a higher purpose, to reconcile sinners to the Father.  Christ miraculously heals the body of some to point to the greater healing of the soul that He offers to all.  Our gospel today reveals the purpose of His healing miracles; to give glory to God, just as Naaman did when he was healed by Elisha.  

Naaman proclaimed, "There is no God in all the earth except [the God of] Israel."  This is the fundamental truth of our faith.  There is one God and one God only.  There is only one God who made all of creation, including you and I.  The one and the same God will be our judge at the end of our lives.  And that one and the same God offers His unceasing love and mercy to us.  Furthermore that one and the same God became Incarnate in space and time and is none other than Jesus the Christ, as evidenced by the many miracles He performed, including the healing proclaimed in the gospel today, and most especially in His resurrection from the dead.

If you are a Christian, this is what you believe.  It is likely something you have been taught as a child, something that has always been part of the background of your life.  But so what?  Do you live your life any differently knowing that Jesus Christ is the one and only God?  Does it make any difference for you?

When Naaman discovered that the God of Israel was the one true God, he wanted to carry loads of dirt from Israel, carted around by donkeys wherever he went, so that he could always honor God.  What are you willing to do?

Listen to the words that St. Paul - who never met Jesus in the flesh - writes to his beloved Timothy from behind the walls of a prison cell.  "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:  such is my gospel [good news] for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal.  But the word of God is not chained.  Therefore, I bear with everything... If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him."

In other words, there is nothing Paul would not endure, nothing he would not do, for the singular fact that Jesus Christ is Lord.  This truth is life altering.  It changes everything, or it should for those who comprehend it even a little bit.  If you understand that Jesus Christ is God and know what He did for us, then nothing in your life can ever be the same.

Today is the day to take an honest look at your life.  How is your life different because of Jesus?  And do not answer this question with externals.  It would be a selfish mistake to focus on things like, "Jesus did not help me pass my exam," or "Jesus did not help my dad find a job," or "Jesus did not heal my aunt's cancer," or "Jesus didn't keep that boy from breaking my heart."   Jesus is not a magic genie who grants us wishes if we rub his lamp.  Jesus is God - the only God there is -- the God who died and rose for us and who beckons us to follow Him to eternal life.   If you want to know what Jesus has done for you, you only need look at a crucifix.  Things that seem important to us now pale in comparison to our eternal happiness.  Christ has bigger plans for us.

So I ask again, how is your life different because of Jesus?  And this time look inward.  Reflect on what you have done for Him.  How have you changed your life because of Jesus?  Are you living any differently than the rest of the world?  Do you think about Christ when making important decisions in your life?  Everyday decisions?  

If Naaman was willing to haul cartloads of earth from Israel, if Paul was willing to suffer imprisonment, what are you willing to do?  How about giving up one hour once a week to go to Mass?  That's a start.  

How about saying, "Thank you," to God in a quick prayer every morning?  How about saying, "I'm sorry," to Him at the end of the day when you think back on your failings and then asking Him to help you be a better person?  How about spending some serious time thinking about what it means to be a better person?  

How about learning a little bit about the Church He founded to continue His ministry for us today?  How about spending a little time each week learning about what His Church teaches, and why?  How about letting the Church challenge you, and not shrinking from that challenge?

How about letting go of some things that are standing between you and God?  How about letting God change you into the person He wants you to be, the perfect version of you?  How about trusting Him to know you better than you know yourself?  

How about falling in love with Jesus? How about settling for nothing less?

As the psalmist says today, "The Lord has revealed to the nations His saving power."  God has revealed Himself to us.  He has made His glory known.  How will you respond?

This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with Him
we shall also live with Him;
if we persevere
we shall also reign with Him.
But if we deny Him
He will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
He remains faithful,
for He cannot deny Himself.



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

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

I have you are having a wonderful Fall Break!  Because of the break, we don't have any of our regular activities at the Catholic Student Center this week.  Enjoy your time off!

We will have our normal Sunday night schedule this coming Sunday, Oct. 13.  This includes Rosary & Confession at 7:00pm, Mass at 7:30, followed by our Credo session.  The topic at Credo this week will be Jesus Christ.  Jesus asked the Apostles, "Who do you say that I am?" (Mt 16:15).  This is the fundamental question.  What do we know about the Second Person of the Holy Trinity?  Is he God?  Is he man?  Is he a little of both?  Do these questions matter?  Come, join the discussion and learn about our Lord!

See you then!
Matt

From Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed:

We are saved or damned according to what we love.  If we love God, we shall ultimately get God: we shall be saved.  If we love self in preference to God, then we shall get self apart from God: we shall be damned.  But though in our relation to God the intellect does not matter as much as the will... it does matter, and as I have said, it is too much neglected - to the great misfortune of the will, for we can never attain a maximum love of God with only a minimum knowledge of God.

For the soul's full functioning, we need a Catholic intellect as well as a Catholic will.  We have a Catholic will when we love God and obey God, love the Church and obey the Church.  We have a Catholic intellect when we live consciously in the presence of the realities that God through His Church has revealed.  A good working test of a Catholic will is that we should do what the Church says.  But for a Catholic intellect, we must also see what the Church sees.  This means that when we look out upon the Universe we see the same Universe that the Church sees; and the enormous advantage of this is that the Universe the Church sees is the real Universe, because she is the Church of God.  Seeing what she sees means seeing what is there.  And just as loving what is good is sanctity, or the health of the will, so seeing what is there is sanity, or the health of the intellect.

from Chapter 1: Religion and the Mind


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

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gospel For Today - 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (C)

It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.  From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace... it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.  (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1302-3)

Life is hard sometimes.  I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that.  If you have not yet experienced hardship and tragedy in your life, it is coming.  That is the human condition.  One of the noble aspects of the Christian faith is that it does not deny this reality.  Our faith embraces it.  Just look at how our first reading today begins, from the opening of the Book of the Prophet Habakkuk.  The prophet is pleading with God, "How long, O Lord?  I cry for help but you do not listen!"

Just look at how he describes his situation: violence, ruin, misery, destruction, strife, clamorous discord.  What a miserable situation he must be in!  And made even more miserable by the feeling the God somehow was not listening to him.  "I cry out to you," the prophet says, "but you do not intervene."

Let us remember, too, that Habakkuk is not some dejected sinner who has rejected God's ways and so gotten himself into a horrible situation.  He is a chosen prophet of God!  He seeks only to do God's bidding!  One is reminded of the prayer of St. Theresa of Avila, who once was thrown from the donkey she was riding while crossing a stream. "Lord," she cried, "if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them."

But God did hear the prayers of Habakkuk.  He did answer them.  His answer was, "Be patient.  Wait."  Our first reading concludes, "For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash one has no integrity..."  No doubt this was not the kind of answer that Habakkuk was hoping for.  So it is with us. God knows our suffering.  He knows our struggles, our pains, our frustrations.  He hears all our prayers.  And he always answers, even if that answer is often times, "Wait, my child."  

The entrance antiphon for today's Mass is, "Within your will, O Lord, all things are established, and there is none that can resist your will.  For you have made all things, the heaven and the earth, and all that is held within the circle of heaven; you are the Lord of all" (Est 4:17).  The Church reminds us with this antiphon today that God is God and we are not.  He is in charge, and there is nothing on earth or in heaven which is not subject to His will.  This includes our suffering.

Does this mean God is the cause of our suffering?  No.  But He permits it, because He is able to use it for our good.  He is not done with us yet.  In our gospel reading today Jesus speaks of servants who spend their day working the fields.  When they come in, they cannot simply sit down at table to eat.  Their work is not yet done.  They must prepare the meal for their master and see that he is served before serving themselves.  

We may read this and think, "How unfair!"  And on a human level, perhaps it is.  But God has something greater in mind for us.  It is not enough that we simply do "what we were obliged to do" as it says in today's gospel.  Our work is not yet done. God wants more for us.  He wants us to go above and beyond our simple obligation.  He expects more.  

How can we endure?  How can we press on through difficulties and trials?  Is God not asking too much?  Again, perhaps on a mere human level, He is.  But God asks us to endure nothing without also giving us the strength to do so.  We need only to trust and rely on that gift, and perhaps that is the lesson He wishes to teach us.  

St. Paul reminds us today of the gifts God has given that allow us to overcome our trials.  "I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.  So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord... but bear your share of hardship for the gospel" (1 Tim 1:6-8).

St. Paul speaks of "power."  I opened this reflection with a quote from the Catechism about the sacrament of Confirmation.  Did you know that in Confirmation God gives you special powers?  (You didn't know you were a superhero, did you?)  One gift of Confirmation is the power to live a holy life in an unholy world.  No matter what havoc is taking place in your life, no matter what hardships you may have to endure, you have the power to remain close to God, to be a holy person, to rest in God's love and reflect that love to others.  You have that gift.  

The other power of Confirmation is the ability to be a witness of Christ to others; to "spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ... to never be ashamed of the Cross," as the Catechism puts it.  The cross is the symbol of God's love for us, a love expressed through suffering.  Not being ashamed of the cross means not being afraid to suffer on that cross yourself.  "God dd not give us a spirit of cowardice," St. Paul writes.  "Bear your share of hardship for the gospel."

Like a superhero's powers, the powers you receive in Confirmation need to be exercised and developed to be of any use.  Sadly today, many confirmed Catholics have let these powers atrophy.  But that does not have to be the case.  You can use these powers to accomplish wonderful things.  Whenever you face hardship, remember this: God has given you the strength needed to endure it.  And by enduring it for His sake, you come closer in spirit to Christ who endured suffering for you.  You are not alone.  If you live a life of the sacraments, then the Holy Spirit dwells in you.  "Guard this rich trust," St. Paul encourages us.  Foster the life of the Holy Spirit.  Stir up the flame of faith.  Remain close to the sacraments.  Resist sin, and when you do sin, repent and seek reconciliation.  Pray often.  Stay close to God.  Remember you are engaged in spiritual warfare, and the battle will take time.  Trust in God that He has given you the power to endure.

For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

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

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Happy Tuesday!  And happy feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, aka St. Therese of Lisieux, aka St. Therese of the Little Flower.  This more modern day saint was born in 1873 and died only twenty-four years later in 1897.  She was not much older than many of you reading this email are today.

St. Therese was a Carmelite nun who never went on missions, never founded a religious order, never performed any great works.  She did keep a journal which has been published under the title Story of a Soul.  By the standards of the world, there was nothing great or extraordinary about her short life.  Yet within 28 years of her death, she was canonized a saint, and today she is considered one of the great Doctors of the Church (putting her alongside holy men and women such as St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Thomas Aquinas).  

She is a wonderful example to all of us - especially young people - that you don't need to live extraordinary lives or do extraordinary deeds to have extraordinary love.  Take a few moments today to learn more about St. Therese.  Here is a good place to start:

THIS WEEK AT CCM
Wednesday
This Wednesday for dinner we have a trio of chefs working to feed us.  Casey, Sarah and Carly will be cooking up a feast for us you don't want to miss.  After dinner, our program will be led by Stephanie Czarkowska.  She will be telling us about some of her favorite family traditions from Poland, and how these traditions have kept her strong in the faith.  You are also invited to come share some of your favorite traditions from your own family that have meant a lot to you.  The family is the domestic church and the place in which most of us first learn about God.  So please come share!

Friday
This Friday is the first Friday of the month. Fr. Voitus plans on coming to campus on the first Friday of each month to offer Mass for us, followed by Adoration and Benediction.  This Friday is also the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, so we will be celebrating his Mass.  Mass starts at 3:30pm.  It will be a great way to begin your fall break on a holy note!  We hope you can join us.

Small Groups
Just one change to our small group schedule.  Our Monday night small group has changed location from Central to the third floor of the UC.  We hope this more centralized location will be easier for people to find.  They are meeting just outside the theater entrance at 6:30pm.  All other times and locations are the same.
MONDAY - 6:30p - 3rd floor UC
TUESDAY - 6:30p - Balsam Lobby
THURDSAY - 6:30p - UC Balcony
THURDSAY (Graduates) - 6:30p - Catholic Student Center
If you have not participated yet in a small group this semester but are thinking about trying, please do.  It's ok to jump in at any time, and you are not required to commit to going each week, so please feel free to give it a try.

NEXT WEEK - FALL BREAK
Because of Fall Break, our regular schedule of activities is on hold next week.  This means NO MASS on campus Sunday, Oct. 6.  If you are remaining on campus over break, there are Sunday Masses at St. Mary's at 9:00 and 11:00am.  If you need a ride to Mass please post on our Facebook Group.  Our next Mass on campus will be Sunday, Oct. 13.

We will be using this opportunity over break to do some remodeling of our sacristy (aka laundry room), the room right outside the confessional.  If anyone will be around and would like to help with that effort, please get in touch with me.

FALL BEACH RETREAT - OCT 25-27
We currently have just one space remaining open!  If you'd like to make an awesome retreat with your CCM friends, please sign up.  Click here to register!

COLLEGE DISCIPLESHIP RETREAT - NOV 8-10
We are also taking registrations for our Discipleship Retreat in Black Mountain.  This is not only a wonderful retreat but a good opportunity to connect with Catholic college students from all across our Diocese. For more information about this retreat, and to register, follow the link below.

Have a wonderful and safe fall break, and we'll see you all back on campus on Oct. 12!

God bless,
Matt

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