Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

Happy Fat Tuesday!  Or, as it is traditionally know, "Shrove Tuesday."  Today is a day of festivities and celebration before we begin the penitential season of Lent tomorrow with Ash Wednesday.  Lent is a season of fasting and abstinence, but the particular fasting disciplines set by the Church have changed over time.  It used to be that Catholics were required to abstain from meat throughout Lent, as well as products derived from meat (eggs, dairy, fat, etc).  Both to celebrate before the fast and to use up any foods that would not keep until Easter, the days preceding Ash Wednesday were used to cook and serve cakes and bread and other such treats so that the eggs and dairy would not go to waste.  If you'd like to learn more about Fat Tuesday, check out this brief article by Fr. William Saunders: "Shrove Tuesday and Shrovetide."  

More about Ash Wednesday and Lent at the end of this email, after our schedule update.

TODAY - TUESDAY
Eucharistic Adoration today in the chapel from noon to 12:30.

WEDNESDAY 
This Wednesday is, of course, Ash Wednesday.  We will have a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of blessed Ashes in our campus chapel at 12:30pm.  All are welcome.  Receiving ashes on your forehead at Ash Wednesday is not a sacrament, but a sacramental - something meant to remind us of our own mortality and help us to prepare our souls by repenting of anything sinful in our lives.  Therefore even non-Catholics and Catholics who have been away from the practice of the faith for a while are invited to come and receive the blessed ashes.

St. Mary's will also have three Ash Wednesday Masses:  In English at 9:00am and 6:00pm and in Spanish at 8:00pm.  If you are planning on driving to one of these Masses and would like to offer rides, please post on our Facebook Group

We will have our regular Wednesday night meal at 6:30pm.  This week will be a simple fish supper in keeping with the Lenten season.  After dinner, we will have a special program led by Kat and Rebecca about the three hallmarks of Lent: fasting, prayer and almsgiving.  Please join us!

THURSDAY
Eucharistic Adoration in the chapel from noon to 12:30.

SUNDAY
There will be NO MASS on campus this Sunday, due to spring break.  For those remaining on campus over break, Sunday Masses at St. Mary's are at 9:00am and 11:00am.  Please post on Facebook if you need a ride.

REMINDER:  When we return from break, Mass on Sunday, March 16, will be at 4:00pm.  This will be our usual Mass time for the remainder of the semester.

SPRING RETREAT - March 27-29
We are busy planning our spring retreat for this year!  Our retreat will be the last weekend in March (from Friday evening, March 27, through Sunday March 29).  Our retreat will be at the Lake House once more, and will include plenty of free time for canoeing and relaxation as well as prayers, moving peer talks, discussions and reflection.  If you'd like to join us, the fee is $20 and the registration form is online.  Just click here to register.  Space is limited so sign up now!

BISHOP'S LENTEN PILGRIMAGE - April 5
Bishop Jugis' annual Lenten pilgrimage is scheduled for Saturday, April 5, at Belmont Abbey, and college students from across the Diocese are invited to join him.  For a schedule and registration information, please see:
http://www.catholiconcampus.com/lent

MORE ON LENT
Lent is that 40 day period before Easter (not counting Sundays) that is marked, as I said above, by prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  It is a penitential season meant to assist us in preparing ourselves to meet the Lord (both in the joyful Easter season, as well as at the end of our own lives) by repenting of our sins, purifying our spirits, and drawing closer to Him in holiness.

The Church gives us many tools to help us along this path, one of which is the discipline of fasting and abstinence.  While the doctrinal teachings of the Church cannot change (though they can develop and be clarified), Church discipline can and does change, at the prudence of the Church, to meet the needs of a given time and place.  As I said before, the Lenten fast used to mean abstaining from meat and all meat products.  These days, it is much less restrictive, though it remains something that we should take seriously.

The official guidelines for fasting and abstinence during Lent can be found on the US Bishop's web site, here.  In short, if you are between the ages of 18 and 59, you are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Fasting means that you are allowed only one full meal during the day.  You are also permitted two smaller meals (think of them as snacks) that together do not add up to one meal.  These are if needed to maintain strength and health.  For example, someone who works a physically demanding job and needs to maintain caloric intake to avoid passing out.  Or someone who is a diabetic and needs to keep sugar levels regulated.  Use common sense, in other words.  Someone who spends all day sitting a desk and is otherwise in good health can fast more strictly than a diabetic physical trainer.  Liquids, such as water, do not break the fast, nor does medication.

Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent are also days of abstinence from meat.  This means no flesh meat.  Fish is considered permissible, as are broths made from meat.  

In addition to these fasting rules, Catholics are encouraged to "give up" something else during Lent.  What to abstain from is a personal decision, but it should be something good you are giving up, in order to truly be a sacrifice.  The point of the exercise is to both increase discipline and also to make an offering to the Lord.  Giving up swearing, for example, or gossip, or some other vice is a good thing, but it's not really in the spirit of the Lenten fast.  You should not do those things because they are bad to do, regardless of the season.  For Lent, we are asked to give up something that is good, that we enjoy, as a way of detaching ourselves from the things of this world that are passing away - even the good things - and to remind ourselves to rely on God, who is the source of all goodness and who will never pass away.

For more information on the Lenten practice of fasting and abstinence, I invite you to read this article by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff, "Why Do Catholics Practice Fast and Abstinence?"  I'll also be posting more helpful information relating to fasting, prayer, and almsgiving on our Facebook page throughout the Lenten Season.  Remember, fasting is just one aspect of Lent.  We are also encouraged to ramp up our prayer life as well as our charity to those in need!

Everyone have a wonderful and relaxing Spring Break, and we'll see you back on campus the following week!

Pax Christi,
Matt




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

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