Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gospel for Today: Holy Family

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH

The Gospels tell us little of Jesus' youth.  Jesus is born, presented by His parents in the Temple, and some time later the magi come to adore Him.  Eventually the young Christ must flee with His family to Egypt to escape the persecution of King Herod.  In fact today, Dec. 28, if it were not a Sunday, would ordinarily be the Feast of the Holy Innocents, commemorating all the innocent children who died when Herod ordered his slaughter for fear of the newborn King of the Jews.  

Other than these few snapshot moments captured by the gospel writers, most of Jesus' childhood is spent in silent anonymity.  I like to think that it was spent simply being a child, doing ordinary things that children do; playing, learning, exploring, loving and being loved by His parents.  The gospel today says that He "grew and became strong," (Lk 2:40) as all parents hope their child will.  Perhaps because the gospels are so silent on the early years of Christ, the Liturgical calendar tends to speed through them rather quickly.  Just a few days ago we celebrated Christ's birth at Christmas.  The Christmas season officially ends two weeks from now with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, an event that took place when Jesus was about 30 years old.  

It is important that the Church pauses today to give us this Feast of the Holy Family.  It is important for us to remember that our Lord was once a child, who honored and obeyed His parents, Mary and Joseph, who in turn loved and honored Him and one another.  This feast, commemorating such a seemingly normal aspect of our Lord's time on earth, is perhaps more significant in our time than in any before.  Love, honor, devotion and obedience within the family is sadly not the reality for many in our society.  Today, 41% of marriages in America end in divorce.  This year (as it has been for the past several years) over 40% of children born will be born to parents who are not married.  In fact, the New York Times calls out of wedlock birth "the new normal" for women under 30.  This is not because of an epidemic of teenage pregnancy, but because more and more couples are choosing either to delay marriage, or nor marry at all; yet this is not seen as an impediment to living together, or even having children.  Living together before marriage used to be considered scandalous.  Today, most couples wouldn't imagine getting married without first "trying it out" by living together.  We have redefined normal so that a child growing up in a home with a married mother and father is no longer the norm, but the exception.

We live in a society that has forgotten the importance of marriage to family life.  The same NY Times article linked to above quotes a university sociologist who calls marriage "a luxury good," something nice to have if you want it and can afford it, but certainly not for everyone.  Marriage is still seen as a good, as are children, as is sex.  But these are viewed today as three separate goods which can be pursued independently of one other.  Because of the widespread acceptance of contraception, abortion and divorce, one can have sex without children, sex without marriage, children without marriage, and marriage without children. We see the effects of this mindset in the debate over homosexual marriage.  Just a few short years ago even most liberal politicians (including our president) rejected the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage.  Today its acceptance is almost mainstream.  If marriage is simply a contract between two people who are in love, valid so long as both parties involved consent to it, with children just an optional add-on, then why not same-sex marriage?   

But a marriage does not make a couple.  A marriage makes a family.  We are reminded of this by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which defines a marriage as "a covenant or partnership of life between a man and a woman, which is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children."  Marriage is more than a celebration of love between two people.  Marriage involves a self-giving love oriented toward life and the generation of a new family; a selfless love that is willing to put others first - one's spouse and one's children.  It is a love that has a life beyond the fulfillment of selfish desires.  It is a sacrificial love that is ordered to the good of the family and to the world.

This true marital love is modeled by the Holy Family. Joseph and Mary were devoted not only to one another but to the child Jesus.  They protected Jesus.  They cared for Him.  And Christ in turn was devoted to them. Our Lord kept the fourth commandment perfectly.  This means that even God, in His Incarnation, was obedient to His human mother and father, out of reverence for the family.  Even though the gospels are largely silent on the first 30 years of Christ's life, today's feast reminds us that the majority of His time on earth was spent participating in family life.  As with all things He does, Jesus' participation in family life was perfect.  This means Christ perfectly lived out the instructions of today's readings.  He revered His mother, Mary, and honored and cared for his aging father, Joseph (Sir 3:2-6, 12-14).  He obeyed His parents, who in turn were subordinate to one another in humility, patience and love (Col 3:12-21).  

The good news of the gospel is good news for the family.  It is an oft-repeated lie that Catholic marriages fail at the same rate as the general population.  This is untrue.  Recent studies have found that while the general American divorce rate is 41%, for Catholics it is 28%.  For Catholic couples practicing Natural Family Planning and attending Mass together faithfully, the divorce rate is lower still.  One recent study has found it to be around 3%.  In other words, nourishing your relationship with God will help to nourish and strengthen your family relationships, as well.  The example of the Holy Family is an example of love. By imitating their love and devotion, your family can be a light of love to the world.

So let us today reverence the Holy Family, in whose bosom Christ was nourished.  Let us look to them as a model for our own lives.  Let us repent and seek forgiveness for those ways in which we have not fulfilled our role as son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father with love and devotion.  And let us imitate the love of the Holy Family in our own families, whatever our situation, so that we can bring our families into union with Christ, as part of His family forever in eternity.

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Gospel For Today: 4th Sunday of Advent

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B)
click here for readings

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word."  In this simple statement, Mary shows us in today's gospel reading the true essence of faith (Lk 1:26-38).  In the Latin Vulgate Bible, the word Mary uses to give her assent is fiat, which means "let it be done."  In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definitions of fiat all have to do with issuing a command or making an authoritative act of the will.  In this case, however, Mary's fiat is to conform her will to that of the Father's.  She could do this perfectly because Mary possessed two things in abundance; a great love of God, and a great trust in God.

Have you ever received really good news, even incredible news, from someone that you didn't really know and trust?  Did part of you doubt that it was true?  Mary received some rather incredible news from God's messenger, Gabriel, in today's reading.  But she wasn't the only one Gabriel brought astonishing news to.  Just a few verses before today's reading, the angel Gabriel also appeared to Zechariah, a priest who was known to be "righteous before God" (Lk 1:6).  This righteous priest, along with his wife Elizabeth, "walk[ed] in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly" (Lk 1:6).  In other words, Zechariah and Elizabeth were good, God-fearing, morally upright people.  They were people of faith, who lived lives of prayer.  One of the sorrows in their life, however, was that they had no children. Elizabeth was barren, and the gospel tells us both of them were getting advanced in age (Lk 1:7).  They must have resigned themselves to the fact that they would be childless forever.  But God had another plan.

While Zechariah was praying and offering incense in the Temple, Gabriel appeared to him and announced that Elizabeth was going to bear him a son (John the Baptist).  Instead of rejoicing, Zechariah did what you or I probably would have done.  He doubted.  After all, it sounds too good to be true.  At their advanced age, they had given up hope.  In Zechariah's mind, a child would be impossible.  In fact, he tells Gabriel plainly (as if he did not already know), "I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years" (Lk 1:18).  In response to Zechariah's doubt, Gabriel strikes him mute until his son John is born.    

After this encounter is described, the very next thing Luke does is tell of Gabriel's visit to Mary, which would have happened about six month's later.  "In the sixth month [of Elizabeth's pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary."  Note that twice Luke refers to Mary as a "virgin." There is an ancient tradition that Mary was a consecrated virgin, a precursor to the nuns of today.  This tradition is supported by many Church Fathers, including St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine.  If this is true, why would Mary take a husband?  According to the mid-second century text, The Protoevangelium of James, Joseph was an older widower who took Mary as his bride to provide her security and protection as she lived her life of consecrated virginity (a practice not unheard of at the time).

So for Mary, who had taken an oath before God to remain a virgin her whole life, the announcement from Gabriel that she would bear a son would have seemed just as impossible as the announcement to the elderly Zechariah.  Indeed, Mary asks the angel, "How will this be, since I do not know man?" (Lk 1:34).  But there is no doubt in her question.  She knows two things with certainty: 1) she will remain true to her vow before God, and 2) God will achieve His will.  She is simply asking Gabriel how it is that God will bring this seemingly impossible thing to pass.  When Gabriel explains that the conception of Jesus will be an act of the Holy Spirit, Mary gives her fiat.  "I am the handmaid of the Lord.  Let it be done unto me according to your word."  She loves God, and trusts in His love for her.

Both Mary and Zechariah were people of faith.  Both strove to do God's will.  Both kept the commands and walked in His ways.  They were both blessed to be visited by an angel bringing very good (but seemingly impossible) news from God.  But when that news was received, Zechariah's response was doubt -- it is too good to be true.  Mary's response was faith -- let it be done.  You and I have received very good news which sounds even more impossible.  God so desires that we be reconciled to Him that He comes to dwell in this world with us and draw us to Himself.  He comes not with condemnation, but with mercy.  He comes not with contempt, but with love.  He comes with peace and joy.  And most incredulous of all, He comes as "a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Lk 2:12).  It sounds too good to be true.  Yet He comes to us all the same.

Are we hesitant to receive this good news, like Zechariah, because we cannot comprehend how it could be true?  Or do we trust God enough, like Mary, to accept this good news with simple faith?  Are we willing to ask forgiveness from a newborn baby?  Are we prepared to look on the face of a child and proclaim, "My Lord and my God?"  That babe is our King, and He offers His love and mercy.  You can doubt the offer and reject the gift.  Or you can say, like Mary, "Let it be done to me."

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

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gospel For Today: 3rd Sunday of Advent

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B) - GUADETE SUNDAY

Today is the third Sunday of Advent, traditionally called Guadete or "Rejoice" Sunday, from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon from today's Mass.  Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.  Dominus enim prope est.  "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  Indeed, the Lord is near" (Phil 4:4-5).  Today, the penitential purple is lightened to rose in our liturgical vestments as we rejoice at the imminent coming of our Lord at Christmas.  Our first reading says, "I rejoice heartily in the Lord" (Is 61:10).  Our psalm response is, "My soul rejoices in my God" (Is 61:10b).  In our second reading, St. Paul tells us to "rejoice always" (1 Thes 5:16).  

In the midst of all this joy, it might seem a bit odd to us that our gospel reading focuses on John the Baptist, the desert hermit who ate insects and told people to repent. We don't typically think of him as a joyful fellow.  Yet John the Baptist is the patron saint of spiritual joy.  After all, when the pregnant Mary came before her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant at that time with John, he leaped for joy in his mother's womb (Lk 1:44).  The gospels tell us John rejoices at the bridegroom's voice (Jn 3:29-30).  John has a thing or two to teach us about joy, if we would listen.

John's joy is rooted in humility.  Let us not forget that John, by this time, had developed quite a following.  This is why in the gospel today, the priests and Levites are sent to ask John about his identity. They want to know just who this man is and what he is up to.  They are a little afraid of his influence. The gospels even tell us that there is none born of women who are greater than John the Baptist (Mt 11:11, Lk 7:28). Have no doubt about it, John is a great man.  But when the priests ask him who he is, John does not point to his greatness - or to anything else about him.  He tells them plainly, "I am not the Christ."  This seems like an obvious enough statement, but it is significant.  It is important to know who we are, and who we are not.

I suspect that there is no one reading this who would claim to be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  But even though we don't claim it in words, we proclaim it in our actions whenever we fail to rely on God.  When we refuse to repent of our sins, when we deny the need for God's forgiveness, we say by our actions that we can save ourselves.  We are claiming to be our own Christ.  When we think we know better than God, or the Church He founded and continues to guide, we act as our own God.  When we put ourselves, not God, first in our lives, we act as if we were the highest good.  We act as if we are the Christ.

The truth is that we cannot save ourselves. If we try, we will fail.  We need God's love and mercy.  We are good, but we are not the greatest good.  To recognize reality and our place in it we need to be humble like John the Baptist and admit, "I am not the Christ."

John was humble.  That is why he was happy.  True humility does not involve berating yourself.  We tend to think of pride as saying, "Look how great I am," and humility, it's opposite, as saying, "Look how horrible I am."  But both are wrong.  Either way you are looking at yourself.  Looking always at yourself, even if it is to look down on yourself, is a form of pride.  True humility does not look inward, but outward.  John never said, "Look at me," either to say how great he was, or how poor he was.  Instead, he said, "Look at Him!"    John said, "I must decrease so that He might increase" (Jn 3:30).  In this way he is like the Virgin Mary, who never points to herself, but always to her Son.  

Recognizing that there is a God and we are not Him relieves us of a heavy burden.  We cannot save ourselves, no matter how hard we might try.  When we finally admit that we are not our own personal Christ, we can start to look outside ourselves for the real Christ.  We start to look for something greater than ourselves.  John recognized Jesus as one infinitely greater than he.  He found the incarnate God, born among us to bring us light, love and salvation.  There is cause for rejoicing here, for those humble enough to receive Him.

Rejoice in the Lord always!  Again, I say, rejoice!  Indeed, the Lord is near!





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

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gospel For Today: 2nd Sunday of Advent

Our prayers are with all WCU students during exam week.  Please join me in praying for the intercession of St. Nicholas, whose feast day was yesterday.  In addition to being the real-life inspiration for Santa Claus, he is also one of several patron saints of students.  (So if you are wondering what to ask Santa for this year, feel free to ask him for a little help on your exams).  A reminder that we are not having small groups, or our Wednesday dinner this week.  We will be doing Community Table service this Tuesday from 3:30-6:00 for those who can join us.  And the chapel at the Catholic Student Center will be open continuously during exam week for anyone who needs a quiet prayer space.  Please take advantage of it.  I hope to see you all at our final Mass of the semester this afternoon at 4:00pm.  

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B)

St. John the Baptist
"Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths."  We receive this imploring message twice in today's readings.  First we hear it from the prophet Isaiah and then again from the evangelist Mark at the very beginning of his gospel.  "Prepare the way of the Lord!"

Mark is quoting from Isaiah (and elsewhere in the Old Testament) as an introduction to John the Baptist.  John is the forerunner of the Christ and the last in the long line of prophets who were, each in their own way, preparing the world for His coming.  John is rather a rugged figure.  Isaiah had said, "In the desert prepare the way of the Lord," and that is just what John had done.  He lived in the desert (the gospel rather mysteriously says "he appeared in the desert"), wore camel's hair and ate locusts.  Yum.  Icons of John traditionally have him looking rather like a cave man.  He was a wild, untamed figure, devoted entirely to preparing the way for Christ.

When we hear someone telling us to "prepare the way of the Lord!  He is coming!", especially when that person looks admittedly a bit crazed to us, we think of the doom and gloom prophets, standing on the street corner holding signs that say, "The end is near!"  And maybe we don't pay much attention to those people. Or maybe they fill us with a sense of unease or even dread.  "You better repent of your sins and get right with God," they warn. "Do it now because He is coming!  Your time is drawing short!"

Last week I mentioned the bumper sticker that reads, "JESUS IS COMING (quick, everyone look busy)."  It is meant to be funny, but as I mentioned last week, there is truth to it.  But there is also a danger to the attitude it expresses.  Do we think of the coming of Christ as something like the boss coming down to the factory floor, ready to fire any employee not performing adequately?  Like a teacher entering the classroom just itching for a reason to send students to detention?  Or like a parent coming home ready to punish any child who has misbehaved during the day?  Many of us, no doubt, do think about the day of the Lord's coming with a bit of fear and trepidation.  We know we are sinners.  We know we have failed to love as we ought.  And we fear God's judgment at His coming.  

But if that is where we leave it, we are neglecting the most important part of the message.  John preached repentance, but he also preached forgiveness.  He was identifying the illness because he knew One was coming after him with the cure.  This is good news.  

When Isaiah was telling people to "prepare the way of the Lord," the context was not fear and trembling, but comfort and tenderness.  Today's reading begins "Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem..." (Is 40:1).  The passage ends with a description of the Lord-to-come as a gentle shepherd feeding his flock, gathering his lambs, and "leading the ewes with care" (Is 40:11).  That's not a frightening image.  This is good news.

When Isaiah describes how we are to prepare the way for the Lord, he tells us to make a straight highway.  Fill in the valleys and make low the mountains.  We are to make a plain out of rugged land.  What Isaiah is telling us to do is to remove obstacles.  Valleys, mountains and rough terrain make travel difficult.  They present obstacles to reaching our destination.  If we are to make a path to the Lord we need to get rid of any obstacle between ourselves and Him.  

What are those obstacles that stand between you and the Lord?  Not literal mountains and valleys.  So what, then?  Sin?  Does sin present an obstacle between you and God?  No, not even sin!  Christ has conquered sin (1 Cor 15:57).  Christ offers forgiveness, the remedy to sin, which John reminds us of today.  So what, then?  What obstacle stands between us and Christ, if not sin?  The only obstacle between us and the Lord is our own unwillingness to repent from our sins.  That is the valley we must fill in.  That is the mountain we must lay flat.  God does not force forgiveness upon us.  We must ask for it and open our hearts to receive His love.  And God so desperately wants us to do that.

St. Peter gives us in today's second reading some of the most comforting words in all of scripture.  "The Lord... is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."  When you feel downtrodden, when you feel worthless, or when you fear God's judgment and doubt His forgiveness, remember this.  God wants you to get to heaven.  He wants you there with Him!  St. Peter tells us "Therefore beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before Him, at peace" (2 Pt 3:14).  

So prepare the way of the Lord.  Make straight a path for Him in your heart. Search your soul, examine your conscience, repent of your sins and receive His forgiveness.  Make Confession part of your Advent this year, especially if you have not been in a while.  God wants you to get to heaven, and so does your priest.  Have no fear of the confessional, because God is waiting for you there, patiently, ready with His forgiveness.  This is good news.

Prepare.  Repent.  Be at peace.


EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE
To prepare for the sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) it helps to first examine your conscience, identifying your sins, so that you may repent of those things and "make straight His paths."  An examination of conscience is an excellent tool to help you prepare for a good confession.  There are many available.  Click here for one that is recommended for college students by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).  Or, click here for a shorter one that would make a good daily exercise to help you live each day in the light of Christ's love.  (You can print it out and keep a copy in your Bible, or tape it up by your bedside).  There are many others available (just Google "examination of conscience"), but the point is to get in the habit of regularly examining your soul so that you can identify early on any obstacles you may be throwing up between you and God, so that you may always keep the path between you and Christ open and clear.  


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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Weekly Update from CCM


Good morning, students!  Next week may be finals week, but this week is a week of finals in another sense.  We will have our final Wednesday dinner together and our final Mass on campus of the semester.  We hope you can come out to celebrate the end of the year with us!

Here is this week's schedule...

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

Small Group scripture study in Balsam Lobby from 6:30-7:30.


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

Supper @ the Center at 6:30pm.  This week Pasquale & Trevor are our chefs, and they will be cooking up a feast of chicken parmesan (eggplant parmesan for the vegetarians), and Bekka is whipping up a special dessert.  After dinner we will celebrate our annual End of Semester/Advent/anticipatory Christmas party.  This will consist of:
1. Grinchy Gift Exchange!  To participate, please bring a wrapped gift of $5 or less value.  
2. Caroling across campus!  After our gift exchange we'll raise our voices in cheer as we process all around campus spreading holiday joy to unsuspecting bystanders.


THURSDAY
Adroation in the chapel from noon til 12:30.

Small Group scripture study on UC Balcony from 5:30-6:30.


FRIDAY
St. Nicholas Day party at Father's House!  St. Mary's at 5:30pm.  Meet at CCM by 5:00 for a ride over.
We will begin with Mass at St. Mary's at 5:30, and then walk over to the rectory where we will help Father Voitus decorate his many and varied Christmas trees.  Father's holiday decorations are the stuff of legend, so he needs our help getting everything set up.  He's providing dinner - we are to bring the cheer!  


SUNDAY
Confession/Rosary at 3:30.
Mass at 4:00.  Last Mass on campus of the semester!
Credo from 5:15-6:30.  Last Credo discussion of the semester!  We'll continue our discussion on Catholic morality.  Please join us!


FAITH FACTS
Advent Traditions.  If you are looking for ways you can keep the spirit of Advent this year, check out this article for some great ideas!


Our prayers are with all of you as you make your own preparations for the end of the semester.  Please try to take some time in all the business of this time of year to remember to prepare your souls to welcome Christ!

Pax Christi,
Matt

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gospel For Today: 1st Sunday of Advent

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B)

Today we begin a new season in the liturgical year, a season of anticipation, a season of waiting.  The word advent means "coming;" we await He who is to come, Jesus Christ.  We wait in two senses.  We join in the long waiting that the world had to endure before Christ's Incarnation in Bethlehem two thousand years ago; and by so doing we remind ourselves that we still wait for that glorious coming of our Savior at the end of all days.  

"When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming" (CCC 524).  Listen to these words: ancient expectancy, long preparation, ardent desire.  This is what Advent is meant to renew in us.  It is fitting that as we begin a new liturgical year, the first psalm the Church prays in Morning Prayer in the Divine Office for today is Psalm 63.  "O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water."

It can be difficult to keep Advent in college.  The semester is almost over.  You return from Thanksgiving break to busily finish up final projects and papers.  Exam week is right around the corner.  And then it is home again to celebrate the joy of Christmas with family.  Before you leave campus there will be Christmas parties and wishes of "Merry Christmas," because the next time we see each other it will be the middle of January.  What place is there for Advent in campus life?  Yet I know college students know all about longing for something more, desiring a better future, a hope of peace and security, and having to wait for it all.  You know all about anticipation.  

The people of Israel had to wait nearly 700 years from the time Isaiah wrote his prophecy until they saw it fulfilled in Christ.  Isaiah speaks on behalf "of those who wait for Him."  He pleads that God might "rend the heavens and come down," but remembers to pray also that God "might meet us doing right."  Isaiah knew how fickle and unfaithful the people of Israel could be while they waited for the Lord.  Even at the Lord's coming, most of the chosen people completely missed it, so caught up were they in their own ways.

I'm sure you have seen the bumper sticker: "JESUS IS COMING: quick, everyone look busy."  It is humorous, but it makes an important point.  Just as the people of Isaiah's time did not know when their Lord was coming, so we today have no idea when the second coming of Christ will be.  Christ Himself tells us in today's gospel reading (Mk 13:33-37), "Be watchful!  Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come... May He not come suddenly and find you sleeping."  

Like the people of ancient Israel, and indeed the whole ancient world (for God "awakens in the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming" (CCC 522)), we today still wait for the advent of our Lord.  But there is a vital difference.  The ancient world waited for One they knew not, while we await for the return of One whom we know.  

Isiah's prophecy has been fulfilled.  Two thousand years ago at the Annunciation, as Mary rendered her fiat ("Let it be done unto me according to Your word" (Lk 1:38)), God rent the heavens and came down.  From that moment, everything changed.  From that moment, we have lived in a different world.  God existed for the people of the ancient world as behind a veil.  Now the veil has been torn in two.  So while we await that unknown day of Christ's second coming, we do not wait alone.  We do not wait without help or hope.

Isaiah prayed that God might find His people faithful upon His coming.  We hope for the same thing, but that hope is based in a firm trust in Christ.  Christ has given us all we need to make us ready to meet Him in glory.  St. Paul, in today's second reading (1 Cor 1:3-9) gives thanks "for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in Him you were enriched in every way... so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of Lord Jesus Christ.  He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."  

We have the opportunity and great blessing today through the Church to build a relationship with God that is much more intimate and powerful than anything the ancient prophets could have imagined, so that even in our waiting we can get a foretaste of heaven.  Do not squander that opportunity.  Keeping close to God now will ensure that we remain close to Him on that blessed day when we will behold Him face to face.  Until that day, let us be filled with a spirit of longing and desire for Him, and also a spirit of hope that He will find us faithful.

"Be watchful!  Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come... May He not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'" (Mk 13:33, 37).

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

Praise to our Lord Jesus Christ!  We have a short week this week due to the Thanksgiving Break.  Our prayers are for safe travels and an enjoyable holiday with your families and friends.  Special prayers for all of those in our Pride of the Mountains Marching band who are in NYC this week for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Be sure to tune into NBC at 9:00am Thursday morning to see our Catamounts (including a few from CCM) leading the parade!

Most of our regular weekly activities are cancelled for this week because of the break.  So here is this week's (short) schedule, and a preview of next week.

TUESDAY (TODAY)
Adoration in the chapel from noon to 12:30.  Come spend thirty minutes in silent prayer before our Lord!

Community Table service from 3:30-6:00.  Meet at CCM by 3:15 if you need a ride over.  

No Small Group this evening.


SUNDAY
Confession & Rosary at 3:30 in the chapel.
Mass at 4:00.
Credo from 5:15-6:30.  The topic for our discussion will be "The Moral Act."  What gives our actions moral weight?  How do we evaluate whether an act is good or evil?  Are we always culpable for our actions?  These and other questions will be discussed.  We hope to see you there!


NEXT MONDAY
Simply Stitched meets at Alex Cassell's house from 8:00-9:30pm.  Meet at CCM by 7:45 if you need a ride over.


NEXT WEDNESDAY
Dec. 3 will be our final "Supper @ the Center" for the semester.  We'll have our annual Advent/End of Semester/anticipatory Christmas party, with our "Grinchy Gift Exchange."  Please bring a wrapped gift ($5 value) to share.  After, we'll go caroling across campus!  


NEXT FRIDAY
On Dec. 5. Fr. Voitus invites us to the rectory for a special St. Nicholas Day decorating party!  Help Father decorate his home for the holidays.  Stay tuned for the time...


FAITH FACTS: THANKSGIVING
Thanksgiving is a national holiday. It was instituted by our government, not by the Church.  Nevertheless it can be considered a religious holiday in that the One we are called to express our thanks to is none other than the God who gives us all we have, and all we are.  The popular image of Thanksgiving's origins involves pilgrims and natives sharing a harvest feast.  But the national holiday was actually instituted by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, during the Civil War.  His proclamation reads, in part:

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. (Oct. 3, 1863).

 So remember to give thanks and praise to God this Thanksgiving, and every day.  And remember, the word Eucharist means "thanks giving."  Catholics celebrate a thanksgiving meal each and every time we attend Mass.  There can never be a better way to offer thanks to God than through His Eucharistic Son.
Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gospel for Today: Christ the King

REMINDER:  In place of our normal Credo discussion after Mass today (4:00pm) we will instead car pool over to St. Mary's to hear a special presentation on Byzantine Advent traditions by Fr. Deacon Matthew Hanes, a visiting Ukrainian Catholic deacon from the St. Basil the Great Greek-Catholic mission in Charlotte, from 5:30-6:30.


THE SOLEMNITY OF JESUS CHRIST KING OF THE UNIVERSE (A)

Today the Church celebrates the great Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe, often called simply "Christ the King."  This solemnity was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to the secularism that he saw rampant in the world during his time.  He believed the world needed a reminder of Who was really in authority (a reminder which is still needed today).

It is fitting that this great feast falls on the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, before we begin our Advent season of preparation in anticipation of the birth of a newborn King in Bethlehem.  Jesus Christ was King of the Universe already at His humble birth, but very few recognized Him as such at the time.  When Christ comes again in glory at the end of time, His authority will be universally recognized.  All will live in the light of His reign.

Today in our gospel we are given a preview of that that day will be like (Mt 25:31-46).  Jesus speaks of the Son of Man (one of His many titles) coming in glory and sitting upon His throne, with all the nations assembled before Him.  We tend to think of kings and other powerful figures of basking in the limelight.  But not in this case.  Christ the King is the light, and He shines His light upon us.  This is why so much attention is given in today's gospel reading not to Christ, but to you and I.  We see all peoples from every nation, every last one of us, being judged.  The King will separate us out, the sheep from the goats.  The sheep will go to His right, into eternal life, while the goats will go to the left, into eternal punishment.  

How will the King determine who is a sheep and who is a goat?  He will judge us according to the love we have shown our neighbors during our lives -- specifically, the least of our neighbors.  Have we clothed the naked?  Have we fed the hungry?  Have we visited the sick and those in prison?  Have we ministered to their needs?  For, as Christ tells us, whatever we do for the least of His people, thus we do (or do not do) for Him.  We will be judged according to how we loved.

Most Christians know this gospel passage.  It is a poignant reminder for us to love our neighbors.  But why does the Church present it to us here, on the Solemnity of Christ the King?  Shouldn't the readings be something about Christ's glory and might and power and divinity?  Where is the triumph?  Where is the kingship?  This gospel reading seems to be more about us and how we ought to behave.  And that is rather the point.

Pope Pius XI established this feast to combat secularism.  Secularism is a way of life that leaves God out of man's thinking.  The secular person organizes his or her life as if God did not exist.  Christ makes no difference to his or her actions.  Today's celebration reminds us that we cannot allow our lives to become secularized.  We must always and everywhere remember that Jesus Christ always was, is now, and ever shall be King of all Creation.  He is ruler over all, and that makes a difference as to how we live our lives.

Living our lives as subjects of Christ the King means ever striving to be a sheep in His flock (not a goat).  Living in the light of Christ means seeing Jesus in the least of our brethren and treating them with the love that Christ has for them.  It makes a difference in our behaviors and actions, in how we relate to others, each and every day.

We become different when we acknowledge Christ as our King. We treat others differently.  We love differently.  Today, let us renew our commitment to serving the King of the Universe, the King of us all.  


A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously recite the Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King. A plenary indulgence is granted, if it is recited publicly on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ King.

Prayer:
Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before you. We are yours, and yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with you, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to your Most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known you; many, too, despising your precepts, have rejected you. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to your Sacred Heart. Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you; grant that they may quickly return to their Father's house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger. Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd. Grant, O Lord, to your Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give tranquility of order to all nations; make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.

Prayer Source: Enchiridion of Indulgences , June 29, 1968

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Weekly Update from CCM

Good morning, students!  Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ on this frigid Tuesday!  Our prayers especially with all of our freshmen as they register for classes today for freedom from anxiety.  Today is also the memorial of the dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome.  Let us pray to these two saints that the faith espoused by the Apostles be alive in our hearts this day.

Here is this week's schedule...

TUESDAY (TODAY)
Adoration in the chapel from noon till 12:30.  Thirty minutes of silent prayer time before the Lord.

Community Table volunteer service from 3:30-6:00.  Meet at CCM by 3:15 to ride over with us.  

Small Group Scripture Study from 6:30-7:30 in the Balsam Lobby.  Open to all (bring a friend)!


WEDNESDAY (TOMORROW)
Vespers (Evening Prayer) in the chapel at 6:00pm.

Supper @ the Center from 6:30-8:30.  Olivia is making a special spaghetti recipe for us, which you don't want to miss.  Our program after dinner will be led by Pasquale.  The topic is "The Meaning of Life."  Do you know your purpose?  What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?  (Hint: It's not "42"). 


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

Small Group Scripture Study from 5:30-6:30 on the UC Balcony (or inside if it is too cold). Invite a friend!


FRIDAY
Our very own Joseph Coca's senior recital is this Friday in Coulter at 2:30.  Let's all come to show our support!

This Friday is also the start of our College Discipleship Retreat in Black Mountain.  Those who signed up for the retreat should receive an email later today with information.  Please pray for all students on retreat this weekend.


SUNDAY
Confession/Rosary at 3:30.
Mass at 4:00.

Special "Byzantine Advent" presentation at St. Mary's from 5:30-6:30.  Instead of our usual Credo discussion this week we are taking a field trip!  Immediately after Mass everyone is invited to ride with us to St. Mary's to hear a special presentation by Fr. Deacon Matthew Hanes, a deacon in the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Rite, serving the St. Basil the Great mission parish in Charlotte.  Fr. Deacon will be speaking about the customs and traditions of celebrating Advent in the Eastern Churches.  This talk will be an excellent way for us to begin to prepare for our own observance of Advent, which will begin the following Sunday.


NEXT MONDAY
Simply Stitched meets at Alex Cassell's house from 8:00-9:30.  Meet at CCM by 7:45 if you need a ride over.


LOOKING AHEAD...
Thanksgiving break!  Our regular weekly schedule will by and large be suspended the week of Thanksgiving break. However, we will still have Adoration on Tuesday and provide service to Community Table that afternoon if anyone is still around and can help!

St. Nicholas Party!  Father Voitus is inviting us again to join him at his rectory for a St. Nicholas party the evening of Friday, Dec. 5.  We are still working out the details so stay tuned for a time.


FAITH FACTS
Today is the optional memorial of the dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul.  These basilicas are built upon the tombs of these Apostles.  Because of the primacy of St. Peter, and the prominence of the ministry of St. Paul to the Gentiles, the See of Rome has always enjoyed a primacy of authority in the Church.  To learn a little more about the history of these two basilicas and why we celebrate their dedication, click on this link.

Defend your Church, O Lord, by the protection of the holy Apostles, that, as she received from them the beginnings of her knowledge of things divine, so through them she may receive, even to the end of the world, an increase in heavenly grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gospel For Today: 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (A)

Today's gospel (Mt 25:14-30) relates the parable of the talents. A man going on a journey entrusts three of his servants with a number of talents (valuable coins worth more than fifteen years' wages for the typical laborer).  To one servant he gives five talents, to another two, and to a third servant only one.  The servants who received five and two talents traded and invested them and so when the master returned they were able to give back to him more than they were first given.  They multiplied their master's treasure.  To these men the master says, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  The man who was given only one talent buried his in the ground.  He did nothing productive with the talent with which he was entrusted.  To him, the master warns that he will be "cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

What is the lesson of this parable?  That we should wisely invest our money so as to make a profit?  I would suggest that this parable actually has very little to do with money.  In fact, when it comes to money, Jesus tells us that it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle (Mt 19:23-24).  I suggest that this parable has to do with talents.  

A talent in ancient Greece was a measure of value.  The word entered into ancient and medieval Latin and ultimately became part of our modern English vocabulary.  We think of a talent today as something we are good at.  But the way the word was used in medieval Latin was a bit different.  A talent was an inclination, a desire, or a leaning of the will, irrespective of whether one was actually good at a thing.  We sometimes speak of someone having a "natural talent," but very rarely does a person acquire great skill without great effort.  One may have a natural inclination to play basketball, but it is only through hard work and practice that one becomes a great player.  If one does not develop the talent it will go to waste.

God gives each of us certain talents -- that is, certain inclinations.  Our proper response to this gift is first of all gratitude.  But we also have a responsibility to invest in the talents He gives us.  We need to put in the work to develop those skills, whatever they may be.  To discover your talents requires self-examination.  What are your inclinations and desires?  (I speak not of sinful inclinations that come from the devil or our fallen nature).  Do you have an inclination to music?  Then learn how to sing, or play an instrument.  Do you have an inclination to art?  Learn how to paint.  Are you comfortable speaking in public?  Perhaps you have a gift to be a preacher or debater.  Whatever your talent is, you have a responsibility to develop it so that it may increase.  Do not hide it away and let it go to waste.

The servant who buried his master's talent in the ground was cast into darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (an obvious reference to hell).  Jesus is warning us that we can actually damn ourselves if we don't use the talents God gives us.  That's a pretty harsh judgement!  But it is a just judgement because those talents don't really belong to us.  They belong to God, and He gives them to us for a reason.  He gives them to us so that we may return them to Him magnified.  Like the first two servants in the parable, we are expected to multiply the Master's treasure.

Now you may be thinking, I don't have any talents.  I am not a scholar, artist or athlete.  What do I have to offer God?  This is thinking like the wicked servant.  Why did he bury his talent in the ground?  Could it be the sin of envy?  The other servants received more talents than he and so he grew resentful of them and hateful toward his master.  He buried his talent so that his master would not benefit from it.  In the end, even that one talent was taken from him.  Some days we may feel like the wicked servant.  We look at others around us who seem to have so many gifts and think, by comparison, that we are rather limited.  We can grow resentful and refuse to develop our own gifts.  But the talents that God gives us are not always the ones that appear spectacular in the eyes of man.  In fact, I would say those talents are the exception rather than the rule.  There are talents which the world does not value but which are priceless in the eyes of God.

Consider the worthy wife in today's first reading (Prv 31).  She works with wool and flax to make yarn on the spindle -- a basic craft that requires some skill but is certainly not the dazzling talent of a Michelangelo or a Mozart.  But with that yarn, her family is clothed.  Moreover, she "reaches out her hands to the poor."  She "extends her arms to the needy."  She "fears the Lord" and "brings good, and not evil."  In other words, she exhibits a Christ-like love of neighbor.  She may not have a lot of talent as the world understands talent.  But she performs simple tasks with great love. (This is the "Little Way" of St. Therese of Lisieux).  For that, the scripture says "her works praise her at the city gates" with a "value far beyond pearls."  

It is not our business how many talents others around us have.  Our business is to invest the talent God gives us and return it to Him with increase. The worthy wife from Proverbs did not waste her talent.  The world may not look upon her as one who does great things.  But the Master will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant.  Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibility.  Come, share your Master's joy."   May we each be so blessed as to hear those words at the end of our journey.

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Weekly Update from CCM

Good morning, students!  Today is the memorial of St. Martin of Tours, a fourth century bishop who helped to evangelize Gaul (present day France).  One of the ways he accomplished this was making sure that the clergy received a good education.  May the prayers of St. Martin today encourage you in your education, and may your increase in knowledge be for the glory of God.

Here is this week's schedule:

TUESDAY - TODAY
Adoration from noon till 12:30, in the chapel.  Thirty minutes of silent prayer before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Community Table volunteer service from 3:30-6:00.  If you plan on coming with us, please be at CCM no later than 3:15 for a ride over.

Knights of Columbus Information Meeting at CCM at 6:00pm this evening.  Membership in the Knights is open to any Catholic male age 18 or over.  Anyone is welcome to attend this information meeting to learn about the Knights, who they are and what they do.

Small Group Bible Study from 6:30-7:30 in the Balsam Lobby.

WEDNESDAY - TOMORROW
Vespers at 6:00pm.  Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, in the chapel.

Supper @ the Center at 6:30pm.  Jackie is cooking for us this week!  After dinner, Bekka will lead us in a program of fun and games!  Come relax with your CCM friends (or make new ones)!


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

Small Group Bible Study from 5:30-6:30 on the UC Balcony.


SATURDAY
Football Event Parking - our last home game of the season, and our last chance for an event parking fundraiser!  If you can help us with parking before the game, please contact me!

Byzantine Liturgy at Immaculate Conception Church in Canton, NC.  It is a little drive from WCU but some of you may be interested.  This will be celebrated by the same Ukrainian Rite clergy who came to Sylva a few months ago.  Vespers will be prayed at 4:00pm with the Divine Liturgy (Mass) at 5:00pm.  


SUNDAY
Confession & Rosary at 3:30pm.
Mass at 4:00pm
Credo after Mass: the topic this week will be "Morality & the Natural Law."  We begin now to look at how we know the difference between right and wrong.  Please join us, and come with questions!


NEXT MONDAY
Simply Stitched meets at Alex Cassell's house from 8:00 to 9:30pm.  If you need a ride, be at CCM by 7:45pm.  


FAITH FACTS
Today, as I mentioned at the top of this email, is the memorial of St. Martin of Tours.  In many parts of the world, this day used to be known as "Martinmas." How did this fourth century bishop develop such a strong following that his feast would be celebrated by Catholics across the globe?  You can learn more about this saint and how the traditions of Martinmas came to be in this article:
Honoring the Real St. Martin of Tours

Until next week!
Pax Christi,
Matt

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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gospel For Today: Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

FEAST OF THE DEDICATION OF THE LATERAN BASILICA IN ROME

Today is a special feast day, but unlike most feast days, today does not celebrate the life of a saint or a major event in the life of Christ.  Today we celebrate the day on which the Lateran Basilica in Rome was dedicated.  Why would we do such a thing?  The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral church of the Bishop of Rome, first consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324 AD.  This makes it the oldest and the highest ranking of the four basilicas in Rome.  It is an historically significant church, and so it makes sense that the anniversary of its dedication would be celebrated locally in Rome.  The reason why this celebration is extended to the universal Church is to show the union of the churches world wide with the successor of St. Peter.  Because it is the official cathedral of the Pope, it is considered the mother cathedral of the whole world.

But why celebrate a church building at all?  Why does a building get a feast day?  Today's readings help us to understand why.  First we hear of the prophet Ezekiel being brought by an angel "to the entrance of the temple of the Lord" (Ez 47:1), where Ezekiel saw water flowing out from its sides.  In our gospel reading Jesus goes into the temple where He chases out the money-changers and tells them, "stop making my Father's house a marketplace" (Jn 2:13-22).  

This is one of the only times we see Jesus angry.  His anger is righteous because the integrity of the temple -- His Father's house -- was being violated.  The temple was constructed specifically to house the presence of God.  The temple in Jerusalem is where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, containing within it fragments of the stone tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments, as well as pieces of manna that fell from heaven during the time of the Exodus.   The Word of God and the Bread from Heaven signified God's presence in a very tangible way.  This is why the temple was built.  This is why Jewish people, no matter how far they were scattered, would return to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices and give worship to God in the temple.

Of course the Jewish people knew that God exists everywhere.  As David reflects in Psalm 139, whether we ascend to the heights of the heavens or descend to the depths of hell, God is there.  God is omnipresent. Yet the temple represented a place where God dwelt in a very specific way.  We today, as Catholics, can understand this.  We recognize that God is always present to us, but sometimes that presence is in a more tangible form.  God is present whenever two or more are gathered in His name, as we pray and worship (Mt 18:20).  God is present to us in His Word when we read the sacred scriptures.  But we recognize that God is present in a very specific and special way in the Holy Eucharist.  So the Bible, which we revere as God's word, may be kept on a shelf along with other books.  But the Eucharist would never be kept in the pantry with other bread.  Because it is the Real Presence of God we house it in a special place, in a special way, out of respect for its sacredness. 

Though God is present everywhere, and we can pray and worship God anywhere, the Jewish people dedicated the temple especially as a place of worship which would house God's presence.  We today dedicate churches to house the Eucharist and where we gather each day -- most especially on Sundays -- to worship God.

Let us consider the word "dedicate."  When we speak of someone as being dedicated we mean he is especially devoted to one particular task or area of interest.  If I am a dedicated student, that means I do not allow anything to distract me from my academic studies.  If I am dedicated to my family, that means that I am not going to allow any outside pursuits to take my focus away from familial responsibilities.  If you are involved in IT you might speak of a "dedicated server," meaning that server is to be used for one purpose only.  A dedicated server is more reliable, because its resources and capacities are not divided.

To dedicate something is to set it apart for a specific use or function.  It is a way of recognizing the importance or significance of something.  When we dedicate a church we are setting that building aside for sacred use.  We are saying that this space is to be used for the worship of God and not as a place of business, a dining hall, a dormitory, or a dance studio.  Those are all fine things, but the worship of God is so important that it merits a place exclusively for that purpose.  To be dedicated involves exclusivity.  A husband and wife are dedicated to each other.  Theirs is an exclusive relationship.  Violating that exclusivity does harm to the sacredness of their marriage.  This is why Christ gets upset at the money-changers in the temple.  They were violating the sacred integrity of that dedicated space.

The temple in Jerusalem is not the only temple mentioned in the gospel today.  Christ says, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will build it up again." The gospel writer tells us, "He was speaking about the temple of His body."  Jesus Christ is also a temple.  He is the Word of God.  He is the Bread from Heaven.  The presence of God dwells in Him.  If this is true of Christ, then those who receive Christ make their bodies into temples, as well.  St. Paul says in today's second reading, "Brothers and sisters: You are God's building... Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor 3:9-17).  

If we are temples of God that means that we, like our churches, have been dedicated to God and should not be used for profane things.  Our relationship with God is exclusive.  We have been set aside for holiness and love.  Anything that runs counter to that purpose should be cast out of our lives the way Jesus cast the money-changers out of the temple.

In Ezekiel's vision, he saw water flowing out of the sides of the temple.  Wherever that water flowed, there was found life.  We enter our churches so that we may be in the presence of God and offer Him worship.  When we leave, we should be like those flowing waters, bringing God's life to the rest of the world.  One of the dismissals that the deacon or priest may use at the end of Mass is, "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."

Our sacred spaces exist for the purpose of worshiping God.  They also remind us that we, too, are sacred spaces and exist for that same purpose.

  • Learn more about the Lateran Basilica here
  • TRIVIA:  Who is St. John Lateran?  No one!  The basilica is named after St. John the Evangelist, and is called "Lateran" after the Laterani family who originally owned the land it was built on.   

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

CORRECTION - Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

Mea Culpa!  Due to an error on my part, I mistakenly had the Knights of Columbus meeting on the wrong week on the calendar.  The actual meeting will be NEXT Tuesday, not today!  My apologies for the confusion.

Pax Christi,
Matt

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

Weekly Update from CCM

Good morning, students, and praised be Jesus Christ!  Photos from our beach retreat have been uploaded and you can now access the photo album here.  Thanks to all who worked so hard to make the retreat a reality.  We have another retreat coming up, this time joining in with Catholic college students from across the Diocese.  The deadline for registering for our College Discipleship Retreat in Black Mountain, NC, is this Friday.  The retreat is Nov. 21-23.  You can get more information and register online at this web site:
http://www.catholiconcampus.com/retreat

And now our schedule this week.

TUESDAY (TODAY)
Eucharistic Adoration in the chapel from 12:00-12:30.

Community Table volunteer day.  Meet at CCM at 3:00 and we'll ride over to Community Table, where we will work from 3:30 till 6:00 serving meals to all comers.  Remember to wear close toed shoes and tie back any long hair.  No tank tops (not really an issue in this chilly weather).  Note: we will be volunteering at Community Table every Tuesday this month.

Knights of Columbus info meeting.  Representatives of our local Knights of Columbus will be at CCM at 6:00pm to talk about the organization and answer any questions.  Membership in the Knights is open to any Catholic male age 18 and over.  All are welcome to come to this information session.

Small Group Bible Study from 6:30-7:30 in the Balsam Lobby.


WEDNESDAY (TOMORROW)
Vespers (Evening Prayer) at 6:00pm in the chapel.

Supper @ the Center at 6:30pm.  This week Jessica McLawhorn is making lasagna for us (one of my favorites!) and Joseph has our program after dinner.  This week's topic is Mary.  Have you talked to your mother lately?  Come learn about our Catholic devotion to the Mother of God and the important role she plays in leading us to Christ.


THURSDAY
No Adoration this Thursday

Small Group Bible Study from 5:30-6:30 on the UC Balcony (or just inside if the weather is bad).


SUNDAY
Confession/Rosary at 3:30.
Mass at 4:00
Credo at 5:15-6:30.  This week's Credo topic is "Last Things."  What do we know about eternity?  And where would you like to spend it?  Bring your questions about heaven and hell!  This week we will also have a guest priest, Fr. Peter Shaw, pastor of St. Joseph's in Bryson City.


NEXT MONDAY
Simply Stitched meets at Alex Cassell's house at 8:00pm.  If you need a ride there, meet at CCM at 7:45.  Simply Stitched knits and crochets items to donate to local charities, including the Pregnancy Care Center.  If you don't know how to knit or crochet, they will teach you how!


ROCK YOUR SOCKS OFF
Rock Your Socks Off is a student organization that is collecting donations of new cotton socks for men, women and children to donate to Haywood Pathways Center, a homeless shelter and halfway house in Waynesville.  Their most needed item -- and least received item -- is socks!  Rock Your Socks Off's goal is to collect 200 pairs of socks to donate by Nov. 14.  You will find donation boxes in the lobbies of Scott and Walker, and in Killian 104.  Please support them in this ministry to help those in need, especially as the weather grows colder.  You can't imagine the difference a pair of clean new socks can make in someone's life.


FAITH FACTS
Today is Election Day and so many people are talking politics.  Did you know that our bishop, Peter Jugis, and his brother bishop, Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raliegh, have a web site called CatholicVoiceNC.org?  Catholic Voice North Carolina is the non-partisan voice of the state's two Catholic Bishops. CVNC monitors legislation and other matters of public interest that intersect with the teaching of the Catholic Church. Under the guidance of the two Bishops, participants in CVNC are asked to contact  legislators and government officials when important matters are under consideration. On this website you can Look Up your elected representatives, read background material on our issues and join CVNC. Membership is free and open to anyone living in North Carolina.  So if you are an NC Catholic who cares about what is going on in our state and how our Catholic faith impacts our civil life, please consider visiting the web site and signing up for their email bulletins.  It's a great way to stay informed about important issues you may not otherwise be aware of.


Until next week!
God bless,
Matt

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