Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 12 CCM Moments of 2010

Well, here we are on New Year's Eve and the Eve of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and I can't help but reflect on all the crazy and wonderful happenings at CCM over the past year.  Some of the events seem so long ago and some of them feel like they just happened this morning, but nevertheless, 2010 has come and is now saying goodbye, so let's take a look at the Top 12 CCM Moments of 2010 (hey, why limit ourselves to a Top 10?):

1. The Human Experience Comes to SEMO - CCM, along with Student Government and RHA, brought Grassroots Film's latest release to our area for the first showing of the movie in Missouri.  We were thrilled with the turnout:  600-700 people came to the SEMO campus to see this uplifting story and many came to both showings to see it twice!  It was a great way to end the Spring 2010 semester and we hope to have many other events like this one in the future.  If you want to purchase the DVD of the Human Experience click here.

2.  CCM Appears on EWTN's Life on the Rock:  In July, Fr. Patrick and I, along with three CCM students, travelled to Irondale, Alabama to tape an episode of Life on the Rock which aired in August.  It was an honor for our little ministry to be featured on this hour long international television show.  Thanks to everyone who tuned in and expressed their support following the airing. We pray this opportunity continues to bear fruit.  If you would like to watch the show click here.

3.  Spring Break Mission Trip to Chicago:  Fr. Patrick, myself and 11 students traversed up to the windy city for about a week to serve the poor and assist Fr. Bob Lombardo, CFR renovate an old convent as they work on renovating the property of Our Lady of the Angels.  It was a trip filled with much, much laughter, little sleep, lots of painting, lots of praying, many graces and great hope.  Spending time with Fr. Bob, Kate, Eric, Alecia and Dorothy was fabulous.  It was a great experience and we continue to pray for Fr. Bob and his ministry.

4.  First CCM March for Life Trip:  The 14 hour long drive to D.C. was worth it to take five students to witness to the dignity of all human life at the 2010 March for Life.  While CCM students may have joined up with other groups to attend the March in the past, I think this was the first time CCM has organized a trip on our own to attend - and this year we are following up with a group of 23 students planning to attend the 2011 CCM March for Life Trip! 

5.  Awakening 2010:  This year we had 39 students participate in our annual Awakening Retreat!  The students who planned the retreat prayed and worked hard for months for a successful retreat!  It was an exciting weekend filled with growth in students' relationships with Christ and each other. The theme was "He is Mighty to Save - Eph. 6: 10" and the theme really came through as students experienced the saving power of God through the weekend.

6.  Studies and regular events: We've definitely been keeping students busy learning about the Catholic faith in these regular events.  Our two Theology of the Body studies saw over 25 students learning about the Church's teachings on the human person; Catholicism 101 covered a range of topics from saints to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; TNT was very well-attended giving students an opportunity to pray together and discuss their relationship with God; the fall semester saw the advent of the St. Augustine Men's Group which has proven to be quite successful; and we have five individuals currently going through our RCIA class.  Wow, God is good. 

7.  Guest Speakers:  We really enjoy inviting guest speakers to share the faith with our students and this year we had the blessing of welcoming Fr. Brian Fischer of the Office of Youth Ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Sr. Maria Pio and Sr. Mary Catherine of the Franciscan Sisters of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother located in Toronto, Ohio to CCM.  Fr. Brian was here in the spring semester and presented a great meditation on Jesus.  The TOR Sisters were here in the fall and gave a fabulous talk on discernment leading into a Spirit-filled Holy Hour in the Chapel.  We're so grateful for the gift of each of our guests!

8.  Fall Semester Opening Events:  This semester we were ecstatic to see such a great turnout at our opening events - our Karoke & BBQ night saw around 70 students in attendance and we ran out of BBQ!  The Coffeehouse saw similar numbers and we had a lot of fun listening to the talent of our students and even Fr. Patrick and Fr. William took the stage at the end.  And, of course, we had, as always, an incredible night of Adoration/Praise & Worship in the Chapel.  It's a wonderful blessing to see so many students gather to worship Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. 

9.  CCM Gives Back:  Our students work hard to heed the call of the Lord to love God and neighbor and this year saw several events where students gave back in service to the community.  The fall brought the beginning of a weekly trip to a nursing home to pray the Rosary and visit with alzheimer's patients.  Many students visited Mr. Anderson regularly before his passing this year as well - requiem in pace.  Students spent an evening raking a community member's yard in September and again another yard in December.  Service events ranging from writing letters to prisoners to assisting the elderly are common occurrences at CCM.

10.  Fundraisers:  Boy, does CCM know how to put the 'fun' in fundraiser!  In the spring we held our annual Wine & Live Music fundraiser and this event proves to be a night of fun and laughter every year!  Two new fundraisers appeared in the fall with a Trivia Night in August and our 1st Annual Living Hope 5K Run/Walk in October which saw participation of over 60 people!  And we can't forget our annual Joy of Christmas concert in December.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all our supporters and benefactors!

11.  Day Trips & Conferences:  CCM took students to hear such speakers as Christopher West, Fr. John Corapi and Tony Melendez in the spring and fall.  Students also attended conferences such as the FOCUS Conference in January and the Church Teaches Forum in July where we were pleased to see Archbishop (now Cardinal) Raymond Burke.

12. Family Weekend:  Our annual Family Weekend Mass on the Terraces and Luncheon again saw a large crowd of over 400 students, families and community members.  We were so happy to see such a large group of students become involved in music ministry for this weekend as well. 

There were many great moments, events and activities at CCM this year.  Another highlight of the year is the addition of a much-needed sound system in our Chapel (just installed last week) which will help us to enter into prayer more deeply as we will be able to hear the Scriptures better.  These are all just some of the many highlights.  Do you have a CCM memory from 2010 that you would like to share?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Happy New Year to you all and we are excited to see what the Lord has in store for 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Verbum caro factum est" - 'The Word became flesh"

(Photo Credit: L'Osservatore Romano/HO/epa/Corbis)
Pope Benedict's Urbi et Orbi (To the City and to the World)
Message on Christmas Day (my emphasis in bold; my comments in blue):
“Verbum caro factum est” – “The Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14).

Dear brothers and sisters listening to me here in Rome and throughout the world, I joyfully proclaim the message of Christmas: God became man; he came to dwell among us. God is not distant: he is “Emmanuel”, God-with-us. He is no stranger: he has a face, the face of Jesus. (What a simple yet profoundly needed message - God is not a stanger, He is not far away - sorry Bette Midler, God is not watching us from a distance - He is intimately close to each of us - may we not push him away)

This message is ever new, ever surprising, for it surpasses even our most daring hope (Wow - that God has become man - how can we ever really wrap our minds around that - what a daring hope). First of all, because it is not merely a proclamation: it is an event, a happening, which credible witnesses saw, heard and touched in the person of Jesus of Nazareth! (Christmas is a reality - God has really become man!)Being in his presence, observing his works and hearing his words, they recognized in Jesus the Messiah; and seeing him risen, after his crucifixion, they were certain that he was true man and true God, the only-begotten Son come from the Father, full of grace and truth (cf. Jn 1:14).

“The Word became flesh”. Before this revelation we once more wonder: how can this be? The Word and the flesh are mutually opposed realities; how can the eternal and almighty Word become a frail and mortal man? There is only one answer: Love. Those who love desire to share with the beloved, they want to be one with the beloved, and Sacred Scripture shows us the great love story of God for his people which culminated in Jesus Christ. (Don't let the phrase 'God loves you' become an empty memory of something you heard in Sunday school growing up - God loves you! - What a beautiful mystery!)

God in fact does not change: he is faithful to himself. He who created the world is the same one who called Abraham and revealed his name to Moses: “I am who I am … the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob … a God merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (cf. Ex 3:14-15; 34:6). God does not change; he is Love, ever and always. In himself he is communion, unity in Trinity, and all his words and works are directed to communion (This is what we are called to "God himself is an eternal exchange of love... and he has destined us to share in that exchange" - CCC 221). The Incarnation is the culmination of creation. When Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, was formed in the womb of Mary by the will of the Father and the working of the Holy Spirit, creation reached its high point (God revealed himself "in the fullness of time"). The ordering principle of the universe, the Logos, began to exist in the world, in a certain time and space.

“The Word became flesh”. The light of this truth is revealed to those who receive it in faith, for it is a mystery of love. Only those who are open to love are enveloped in the light of Christmas. So it was on that night in Bethlehem, and so it is today. The Incarnation of the Son of God is an event which occurred within history, while at the same time transcending history. In the night of the world a new light was kindled, one which lets itself be seen by the simple eyes of faith, by the meek and humble hearts of those who await the Saviour. If the truth were a mere mathematical formula, in some sense it would impose itself by its own power. But if Truth is Love, it calls for faith, for the “yes” of our hearts.

And what do our hearts, in effect, seek, if not a Truth which is also Love? Children seek it with their questions, so disarming and stimulating; young people seek it in their eagerness to discover the deepest meaning of their life; adults seek it in order to guide and sustain their commitments in the family and the workplace; the elderly seek it in order to grant completion to their earthly existence (He is what every human heart longs for).

“The Word became flesh”. The proclamation of Christmas is also a light for all peoples, for the collective journey of humanity. “Emmanuel”, God-with-us, has come as King of justice and peace. We know that his Kingdom is not of this world, and yet it is more important than all the kingdoms of this world. It is like the leaven of humanity: were it lacking, the energy to work for true development would flag: the impulse to work together for the common good, in the disinterested service of our neighbour, in the peaceful struggle for justice. Belief in the God who desired to share in our history constantly encourages us in our own commitment to that history, for all its contradictions. It is a source of hope for everyone whose dignity is offended and violated, since the one born in Bethlehem came to set every man and woman free from the source of all enslavement (What is the source of all enslavement?  Sin.).

May the light of Christmas shine forth anew in the Land where Jesus was born, and inspire Israelis and Palestinians to strive for a just and peaceful coexistence. May the comforting message of the coming of Emmanuel ease the pain and bring consolation amid their trials to the beloved Christian communities in Iraq and throughout the Middle East; may it bring them comfort and hope for the future and bring the leaders of nations to show them effective solidarity. May it also be so for those in Haiti who still suffer in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and the recent cholera epidemic. May the same hold true not only for those in Colombia and Venezuela, but also in Guatemala and Costa Rica, who recently suffered natural disasters.

May the birth of the Saviour open horizons of lasting peace and authentic progress for the peoples of Somalia, Darfur and Côte d’Ivoire; may it promote political and social stability in Madagascar; may it bring security and respect for human rights in Afghanistan and in Pakistan; may it encourage dialogue between Nicaragua and Costa Rica; and may it advance reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.

May the birth of the Saviour strengthen the spirit of faith, patience and courage of the faithful of the Church in mainland China, that they may not lose heart through the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience but, persevering in fidelity to Christ and his Church, may keep alive the flame of hope. May the love of “God-with-us” grant perseverance to all those Christian communities enduring discrimination and persecution, and inspire political and religious leaders to be committed to full respect for the religious freedom of all.

Dear brothers and sisters, “the Word became flesh”; he came to dwell among us; he is Emmanuel, the God who became close to us. Together let us contemplate this great mystery of love; let our hearts be filled with the light which shines in the stable of Bethlehem! To everyone, a Merry Christmas!

(Wow, that was good.)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas - believe it or not, it is still liturgically correct to say this even though as I type this the date is December 29th.  As Catholics, we celebrate the birth of our Lord for eight days called the Octave of Christmas (December 25th - January 1st (which is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God)).  The season of Christmas lasts through the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.  Hey, we don't mess around - we have a lot to be thankful for so we celebrate for a while!  I mean, c'mon!  God has become man!  Why celebrate that for only one day!?  This is a big deal!  The people in darkness have seen a great light!  Besides Easter, this is the greatest feast of the Church's calendar - let us celebrate in praise and thanksgiving!  This is the time to celebrate the coming of the long-awaited Messiah!  If you were living in Biblical times and the people had been waiting for centuries for the coming of the Messiah, then he comes and you found out about it would you just celebrate for one day then move on with your life?  I think not. Isn't it interesting though that every year people start preparing for Christmas after Labor Day and then when Christmas Day comes they start packing up their decor and putting away the fine china the next morning?  What a commentary on the state of our culture.  It's like we spend all night getting ready for the morning and then when morning comes we go to bed.

In continuing celebration of the Octave of Christmas I present you with the following:

Fr. Robert Barron commenting on the Genealogy of Jesus:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bishop Sheen on 'What's My Line?'

This was a television game show that was on in the '50s and '60s.  The show would have a panel and a moderator and a guest.  The panel would have to guess the occupation of the guest through 'yes' and 'no' questions.  At the end of the show a celebrity was brought on as the guest, the panel would be blindfolded and they had to guess who it was.  In this episode, Bishop Fulton Sheen was the celebrity guest.  Bishop Sheen had a weekly television show in which he would talk about and explain our Catholic faith.  He even won an Emmy for his show!  I love listening to his old shows and reading books written by him.  He was absolutely amazing.  You can easily see that people thought very highly of him in this video.  Note the great applause when he appears and the statement "Well, that is the most solid round of applause I've heard in a long time."  Also, the great respect shown to him by Mr. Daly and all the panelists, especially when the final panelist kisses his ring at the end which is a gesture of respect for his office as bishop who is a successor of the Apostles.  By the way, the celebrities would often have to disguise their voices because their distinct voices could have given them away - I think it's hilarious that Bishop Sheen chose to answer the questions in French to disguise his voice!  His concern for the poor also shines through when he requests that the prize given to him at the end of the show be sent to the leper colonies.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Lord Is My Inspiration

", who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself." - Gaudium et Spes 24: 3

Friday, December 17, 2010

O Antiphons

Today is the beginning of the O Antiphons.  These are the antiphons that begin and end the Magnificat in Vespers during the final days of Advent.  Fr Z. has more detailed info on the O Antiphons here.
They are beautiful verses invoking titles of Christ.  In Latin the titles are Sapientia (Wisdom), Adonai (Lord), Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse), Clavis David (Key of David), Oriens (Dawn), Rex Gentium (King of the nations).

Here are the Antiphons from the Breviary:
Dec. 17th:  O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care.  Come and show your people the way to salvation.

Dec. 18th:  O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:  come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

Dec. 19th:  O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you.  Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

Dec. 20th:  O Key of David, O royal power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven:  come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.

Dec. 21st:  O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:  come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Dec. 22nd:  O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust. 

Dec. 23rd:  O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.

Here is a resource with scriptural citations of each of the titles and the Latin text of the antiphons followed by a good English translation - and you can hear the Latin antiphon chanted (which is awesome!) by clicking on the speaker icon.

After reading the O Antiphons, you see the significance of a familiar hymn:

Come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Chorus: Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
from ev'ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav'nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh.

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight.

O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace.
Hymn lyrics from fisheaters.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fr. Robert Barron Comments on People Leaving the Church

As. Fr. Barron points out, the Church recognizes that there are certain aspects of truth in other faiths, however, the Church must point out that the fullness of truth subsists in the Catholic Church.  The Church is a divine institution founded by Jesus Christ.  It's doctrines are unchanging as the Church, the Bride of Christ, must remain faithful to her Bridegroom, Jesus.  The Church proposes the fullness of truth to us and it is for us to freely accept it so as to enjoy the fruits of grace the Lord wishes to joyfully bestow upon us through his Church.  The Church's teachings are not to impose on us or to make us mad, rather her teachings help us to become the best people we can be; to become the people God has created us to be. When we enter deeply into prayer, examine our hearts and study the teachings of the Church (not just what the Church teaches but also the why behind the what), we come to the realization that what the Church teaches is what our hearts truly long for which is authentic love, not a watered down and "I-will-determine-truth-for-myself" version of love.  If we wish to live an authentically Christian life which is to become like Jesus, we must heed his command, "Take up your cross and follow me."  Love demands sacrifice.  But also as Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  The more we examine our hearts and learn what and why the Church teaches what she does, the more we realize the meaning of these words of our Lord.  It may be difficult at times, for example, to say no to contraceptives when we live in a culture that is constantly telling us that contraceptives are good, but to say no to contraceptives is to take the Lord's burden upon yourself and guess what, the Lord's burden is easy and light.  Why?  Because what the Lord offers me is what my heart truly longs for so when I receive what the Lord offers it is not a heavy burden rather it is light and easy and I carry it joyfully.  Saying no to contraceptives is actually saying a joyful yes to something much greater and fulfilling - saying yes to life and authentic love. If you are considering leaving the Catholic Church, I beg you for your own sake, take time to truly learn the Church's teachings and pray deeply; talk to someone who really knows what they're talking about regarding the Church.  There are so many resources available to you, many of which can be found on the sidebar of this blog. I guarantee you that if you learn the truth you will not want to leave because you will discover that all your heart has longed for is found in the Catholic Church.  Why?  Because the Church was divinely instituted by Jesus and if Jesus has given me this gift how could I ever reject it?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yay, Sr. Miriam James!

Check out this article about Sr. Miriam James, SOLT who will be joining us for our women's retreat April 1-3.  We're so blessed and excited that she is coming!  What a great and inspiring story she has! Click here to read it.

Here is an excerpt: 

"With her parents no longer telling her what to do [when she went to college], Sharon stopped attending Mass, never went to confession, and was certainly not going to be found at any prayer meetings. Instead, worldly pursuits consumed her time. In addition to her scholarship, she had a boyfriend on the football team and a schedule full of parties. She was free to do as she pleased, which was supposed to bring her happiness.

Yet instead of being filled with happiness, she was empty. “After getting a taste of having everything the world says you should have to be happy, but finding my heart utterly empty, I began to deeply yearn for something more. The partying, boyfriends, school and sports didn’t fill me. When I was truly honest with myself, I had to admit that I was shattered within.”

It was the spring of her freshman year in college when she had this awakening. “I realized that when I died, God wasn’t going to ask me if my mom and dad went to church on Sunday. He would ask me, ‘What did you do with your life?’” This sobering thought led her on a slow journey back into the Church."

Continue reading here.

An "Advent Minute" from the Dominican Sisters

Click here for an "Advent Minute" from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why Do We Use an Advent Wreath and Why the Colored Candles?

Need some prayers to help you through your finals?

Call on St. Joseph of Cupertino!  St. Joseph Cupertino is a patron saint of students and those travelling by air.  Why is St. Joseph Cupertino a patron saint of students?  Well, he was not so good at studies and only by the grace of God did he pass an examination by his bishop.  When he was studying for the diaconate and priesthood he was supposed to be able to expound on many passages in the Gospels, but he was only able to expound on one verse from the Gospel of St. Luke, "Blessed is the womb that bore you." Here is the recounting of the story from EWTN:

"...for the diaconate and the priesthood a special examination had to be passed, in presence of the bishop himself. As a matter of form, but with no hope of success, Joseph was sent up to meet his fate. The bishop opened the New Testament at haphazard; his eye fell upon the text "Beatus venter qui te portavit [Blessed is the womb that bore you]," and he asked Joseph to discourse upon it. To the surprise of everyone present Joseph began, and it seemed as if he would never end; he might have been a Master in Theology lost in a favorite theme. There could be no question about his being given the diaconate."

Why is St. Joseph Cupertino a patron saint of those travelling by air?  St. Joseph Cupertino was a mystic and very often had experiences of levitation.

St. Joseph Cupertino was incredibly humble.  One phrase that I love from EWTN's account of his life is this: "Joseph's absent-mindedness, from his childhood upwards, had not been only a natural weakness, it was due, in great part, to a wonderful gift of seeing God and the supernatural in everything about him, and he would become lost in the wonder of it all. "  St. Joseph Cupertino saw beauty in all of God's creation and would get so caught up in awe that he would go into ecstasy. He saw beauty in ordinary things.  If only we would all do the same - to be in utter awe at what we usually see as completely ordinary such as a bird flying by, a cloud lingering in the sky, a flower blooming or the face of a friend.

So as you students continue to take your final exams this week, don't forget to ask St. Joseph Cupertino to pray for you!  Study well and may the things you've studied be what is asked on the exam, just as in St. Joseph Cupertino's case!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception!

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - a holy day of obligation - so please make it to Mass today!

What is the Immaculate Conception about? Many mistakenly think that this feast is about the miraculous virgin conception of Jesus, but it is actually about the conception of his mother, Mary.

This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about this dogma:
490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with thee gifts appropriate to such a role." The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace". In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace.

491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immmune from all stain of original sin.

492 The "splendor of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son." The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love."

By the grace of God and the merits of her Son, Mary was free of Original Sin and personal sin her whole life long.  How can this be?  Here is a great explanation from Catholics United for the Faith.
The basic gist though is to prepare a worthy dwelling place for his Son and by the merits of his Son, God gave Mary the grace of being free of Original Sin and all personal sin. "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28).  Remember God is outside of time, so he can apply the graces won for us on the cross by Jesus to his Mother even before Jesus is conceived. The Church Fathers would explain it in the following manner:  If I have fallen in a hole and a man comes by and pulls me out then he has saved me from the hole.  If I am standing at the edge of the hole and a man comes by and prevents me from falling into it then he has also saved me from the hole.  Such is the case here - Mary was about to fall in but Jesus saved her from it before she fell in - so Mary can also sing "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Luke 1: 46-47).  Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant.  Just as in the Old Covenant God's word, the Ten Commandments, dwelt in the Ark, so in the New Covenant, God's Word, the Word made flesh, dwelt in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception.  Many misunderstandably think that Catholics worship Mary, but the reality is no, we don't worship her.  Worship is due to God alone.  However, we do honor Mary as the Mother of our Lord and recognize the indispensable role that she has played in salvation history.  She is the Mother of God and our Mother.  Just as Jesus gave Mary to John the Beloved Disciple at the foot of the cross, "Son, behold your Mother", so has he given her to all he has redeemed. 

Mary is my mother and I give thanks to God today for the graces he has bestowed on her and the great faith she expressed in saying yes to him - "Be it done unto me according to Thy word!"

Read more about this dogma and its biblical consistency here and here.

Also, check out these videos about the Immaculate Conception by Dr. Mark Miravalle, professor of theology and mariology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.  You can view more of Dr. Miravalle's videos on this topic here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Feast of St. Ambrose

Today is the Feast of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.  The entry in the breviary says this about him:  "Ambrose was born of a Roman family at Trier about the year 340.  He studied at Rome and served in teh imperial government at Sirmium.  In 374, while living in Milan, he was elected bishop of the city by popular acclaim and ordained on December 7.  He devotedly carried out his duties and especially distinguished himself by his service to the poor and as an effective pastor and teacher of the faithful.  He strenuously guarded the laws of the Church and defended orthodox teaching by writings and actions against the Arians.  He died on Holy Saturday, April 4, 397."

St. Ambrose was an incredibly holy man.  He is often known for playing a large part in the coversion of St. Augustine and baptizing him.  St. Ambrose is one of the 33 doctors of the Church.
From EWTN:  "Paulinus writes thus of him: 'Whenever any person confessed their sins to him in order to receive penance, he shed such an abundance of tears as to make the penitent also to weep. The sins which were confessed to him he never disclosed to anyone, only interceded with God.'"
You learn more about St. Ambrose here and here.

Prayer from the Breviary:
"Lord, you made St. Ambrose an outstanding teacher of the Catholic faith and gave him the courage of an apostle.  Raise up in your Church more leaders afer your own heart, to guide us with courage and wisdom.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."  Amen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What is Advent all about?

Check out this video:

Gracias to Marcel.

Pope Benedict had some amazing words about waiting in his Angelus Address on the 1st Sunday of Advent:

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new Liturgical Year, a new journey of faith that on the one hand commemorates the event of Jesus Christ and, on the other, opens to its ultimate fulfilment. It is precisely in this double perspective that she lives the Season of Advent, looking both to the first coming of the Son of God, when he was born of the Virgin Mary, and to his glorious return, when he will come “to judge the living and the dead”, as we say in the Creed. I would now like to focus briefly on this evocative theme of “waiting”, for it touches upon a profoundly human aspect in which the faith becomes, so to speak, completely one with our flesh and our heart.

Expectation or waiting is a dimension that flows through our whole personal, family and social existence. Expectation is present in thousands of situations, from the smallest and most banal to the most important that involve us completely and in our depths. Among these, let us think of waiting for a child, on the part of a husband and wife; of waiting for a relative or friend who is coming from far away to visit us; let us think, for a young person, of waiting to know his results in a crucially important examination or of the outcome of a job interview; in emotional relationships, of waiting to meet the beloved, of waiting for the answer to a letter, or for the acceptance of forgiveness.... One could say that man is alive as long as he waits, as long as hope is alive in his heart. And from his expectations man recognizes himself: our moral and spiritual “stature” can be measured by what we wait for, by what we hope for.

Every one of us, therefore, especially in this Season which prepares us for Christmas, can ask himself: What am I waiting for? What, at this moment of my life, does my heart long for? And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for together? What unites our aspirations, what brings them together? In the time before Jesus’ birth the expectation of the Messiah was very strong in Israel – that is, the expectation of an Anointed one, a descendent of King David, who would at last set the people free from every form of moral and political slavery and find the Kingdom of God. But no one would ever have imagined that the Messiah could be born of a humble girl like Mary, the betrothed of a righteous man, Joseph. Nor would she have ever thought of it, and yet in her heart the expectation of the Savior was so great, her faith and hope were so ardent, that he was able to find in her a worthy mother. Moreover, God himself had prepared her before time. There is a mysterious correspondence between the waiting of God and that of Mary, the creature “full of grace”, totally transparent to the loving plan of the Most High. Let us learn from her, the Woman of Advent, how to live our daily actions with a new spirit, with the feeling of profound expectation that only the coming of God can fulfil."

New Film About Bl. John Henry Newman

At Catholic Campus Ministry we have three buildings: St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel, the Marquette Student Center and the Newman Center. The Newman Center was named after Bl. John Henry Newman, a former Anglican who converted to Catholicism. All over the country there are campus ministries bearing the name of Bl. John Newman. The Holy Father just recently beatified Cardinal Newman when he was in England in September. As a result, interest in Bl. John Newman has gone up and I recently learned about a new film being produced about his life. Here is some info on it:

Another good example of the legacy of Bl. John Newman is the Cardinal Newman Society. May Bl. John Newman intercede to God for us as we strive to spread the Gospel on campus and enlighten minds on the beautiful relationship of faith and reason.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fr. Barron Commenting on Pope Benedict as Witness to God

By the way, you can read our post about what the Pope really said about condoms here.

The Beauty of the Human Person

In the intro course on Theology of the Body that we do here at CCM we always end the semester with watching films then analyzing them in light of TOB.  One of the films that we watch is The Butterfly Circus, a short film made over a year ago starring Eduardo Verastegui and Nick Vujicic.  Watch it here:

How does this film relate to Theology of the Body?  This film has a message of hope - that every human life has worth and dignity regardless of race, disability, age or any other thing that may cripple us.  Our worth is not determined by what we do but who we are - human beings created in the image and likeness of God.  Eduardo's character sought to bring that out in Nick's character - encouraging him not to believe the lies that he had heard, lies that were telling him he wasn't worth anything, but rather to believe the truth that God loves him and has a great plan for his life - to see the "beauty that can come from ashes", that "the greater the struggle the more glorious the triumph." This is a tremendous aspect of the Theology of the Body - that every human life has worth and dignity and deserves to be loved, not used.  This short yet powerful film shows the beauty of the human person and our ability to use our talents for good rather than evil and that redemption is available to us all.  No wonder this film won the 2009 Doorpost Film Project. What a great way to conclude our semester study of Theology of the Body.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Is Just Too Cute

Thanks to Fr. Gonzales

Tony Melendez Coming to Leopold!

Everyone be sure to join in this great opportunity to hear and meet Tony Melendez at St. John Catholic Church in Leopold on Thursday, December 9th, 7pm-9pm. 
Tony and his family are such wonderful people and we're so excited that he is going to be coming to our area!
CCM students - we will be taking a carpool to the event so stay tuned for details if you want to join in!
Tony was born without arms and does everything, including play guitar, with his feet.  He played for Pope John Paul II in 1987 in L.A. and the Pope lept off the stage to greet him following his performance saying, "My wish to you is to continue giving this hope to all the people."
Learn more about Tony and his ministry here.

Happy Birthday, Fr. Scanlan!

Happy Birthday to Franciscan University's dear Fr. Michael Scanlan!  God's grace has worked wonders in the lives of so many, especially Franciscan students, through Fr. Scanlan.  We are so grateful that he has and continues to be open to God's grace and call in his life!  Let the Fire Fall, a biography about Fr. Scanlan, is back in print and you can get it here.

Congratulations, Msgr. Rice!

Seminarian Brian Fisher, CCM & SEMO graduate
Mark Buesse and Msgr. Rice following his vocation
presentation in our Chapel in the spring of 2009.
Several CCM students who frequent this blog will remember meeting Msgr. Rice when he came here a few semesters ago to present a talk in our Chapel on vocations; and, of course, many of our students from the St. Louis area know or at least know of Msgr. Rice.  We were very pleased to hear this morning that the Holy Father has appointed Msgr. Rice as the next auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis!  Congratulations! Bishop-designate Rice will be ordained to the episcopate on January 13th at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis by Archbishop Carlson. We also congratulate Bishop Hermann on his retirement! Thank you Bishop Hermann for all your wonderful and faithful years of service!  Find out more information on Bishop Hermann's retirement and Bishop-designate Rice's appointment here.