Consecration to Mary with CCM: Day 1

To mark the month of May, traditionally dedicated to Our Lady, and as a transition from the school year to the summer months, united as a community of faith on campus, we make and renew our Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary (a.ka. Consecration to Mary). We invite you to learn more about the spiritual practice and join us (everything you need is below)!

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April 27: St Zita

Today (April 27) is the memorial of St Zita (sometimes Sitha; +AD 1272) a domestic worker in Lucca, Italy whose heroic piety and miraculous intercession after death made her a popular saint in the area until her cult spread. She is one of the “incorruptibles” a saint whose body has known little or no decay. You can learn more about this saint and her incorruptible body here:

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Was Shakespeare Catholic?

Happy Birthday to William Shakespeare, as today, April 23, is the day when the birthday of the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon is recognized and celebrated (we don’t know for sure, but Shakespeare’s baptism is recorded in the Parish Register at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564). Shakespeare, the oft lauded greatest writer of the English language, in some ways like Jesus, often becomes a blank canvas upon which many theorists end up painting a self-portrait. But is there any credence to the idea that Shakespeare might have been secretly Catholic in an age of Catholic persecution in England?

The Vatican Post Office celebrated the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare with a stamp featuring art work by Czech artist Marina Richterova. (Source: Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office)
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Prayers of the Apocalypse

In our Wednesday Night Scripture Study of the Apocalypse/Book of Revelation (7:30 pm, check our homepage for the link), we open each session with a canticle, or song, from the Book of Revelation that is used in the Liturgy of the Hours. These are powerful hymns of praise to Jesus Christ worthy of meditation, and incorporating into your own prayer life, whether on the nights indicated, or as you read the Book of Revelation, or as you feel called to offer worship to the Lamb of God.

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Making an Examination of Conscience

During this time when many of us do not have regular, if any, access to the sacrament of Confession, this would be a good time to start developing the habit of making a regular thorough Examination of Conscience, in addition to a brief Daily Examen. I might suggest doing so each Saturday night in order to make a strong Act of Contrition (found at the bottom of the Examination below) asking God’s forgiveness and receiving his grace to live the Lord’s Day as a holy day.

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St John Henry Newman’s Road to Holiness

St John Henry Newman is the universal patron saint of Catholic Campus Ministry. He believed fervently in the University as the setting in which students seeking truth, when done honestly, would lead to those same students discovering the one who named himself “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He also believed fervently in the Church’s universal call to holiness, and frequently addressed such a call to all person’s in his homilies, sermons, and meditations.

One such meditation, from a collection entitled Meditations and Devotions offers what he calls “A Short Road to Perfection” which gives the reader a practical consideration of such a holy life and some practical means to accomplish it. He opens the meditation saying, “It is the saying of holy men that, if we wish to be perfect, we have nothing more to do than to perform the ordinary duties of the day well.”

He calls this way short, not because it is easy, but because it doesn’t take long to see that this is true. The ordinary duties are those which we are called to perform universally as Christians and depending on our station in life. That it is a way of perfection does not mean, he says, going beyond your current station in life. Perfection, he notes, has a very ordinary meaning: that a thing is as it is meant to be without flaw or unnecessary addition. God calls us to holiness where we are, doing the duties we have been given as they are meant to be done.

The universal Christian duties are well known—strive for virtue, pray, meditate, participate in the sacraments, love God and love your neighbor—and Newman gives us a concrete list of ways to do this:

I love this list, practical and achievable. Specific enough to do immediately, but flexible to find what works for you. For example, to “make your evening meditation” I prefer lectio divina, and the link above reflects that, but one could use any form of Catholic Meditation that works for you. As a student, the duties specific to your station are known to you. As part of your nightly examination, start asking yourself Did I study well? Did I give full attention to my readings and lectures? Am I working toward my deadlines and examination times? How can I stay for focused on my studies? And coming up with the resolution and practical methods to being a student, as it is meant to be done.

It seems for many students, the first and the last of Newman’s list are the hardest to commit to. Which is a shame; not only in matters spiritual, but practically in terms of doing what’s best to get the best education, rising early and going to bed at a reasonable time are time-tested practices of the wise. Making a good visit to the Sacrament in the time of Novel Corona virus might seem unattainable, but through Acts of Spiritual Communion and the Morning Offering, we can still unite ourselves with the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Newman does make one warning about any road to Holiness: it is not enough to talk about it or desire it, or reflect on how to achieve it, one must commit oneself to it, make clear one’s aim, and then DO it. Why not start today with St John Henry Newman’s suggestions and taking the duties of your life seriously, and God will accompany you on your way.

Intercessors for an end to COVID-19

The Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, wherein lies UNC-Asheville has asked the faithful to seek the intercession of Sts Roch and Rosalie to end the pandemic.

“Merciful Father, through the intercession of Blessed Mary, St. Roch, and St. Rosalie, deliver us from the current attack and subsequent suffering we are enduring from the coronavirus. May we seek to assist those in need in body or spirit and ourselves turn away from sin and trust in You. We ask this in the name of the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ Our Lord.”

St Roch watching over Daisy, by Mark Barone | Santa Rosalia of Palermo by Gabriele Conte

The truth of the power of the intercession of the saints is borne out by lived experience of the faithful of the countless examples throughout history. “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness … [T]hey do not cease to interceded with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through theone mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus … SO by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.” (Lumen Gentium §9) Without denying the necessity of corporal intervention and prudence, we should also hold great faith in the possibility of the miraculous.

“Miracles happen,” Pope Francis reminds us. “But they need prayer! A courageous prayer, that struggles for that miracle. Not like those prayers of courtesy: Ah, I will pray for you! Followed by one Our Father, a Hail Mary and then I forget. No! It takes a brave prayer like that of Abraham who was struggling with the Lord to save the city, like that of Moses who prayed, his hands held high when he grew weary…”.

-Pope Francis, Morning Meditation in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Monday, 20 May 2013

St Roch aka, Rocco or Rock—whom UNC-A campus ministry claims as a patron saint by virtue of his association with dogs, and with the similarity of name to the Bulldog’s Mascot “Rocky”—lived in France the 14th century as something of a wandering hermit, making many pilgrimages, including a three-year long stay in Rome. He contracted plague, and exiling himself to the forest he was succored by a dog who brought him bread and whose loving attention helped alleviate Roch’s sores. He has long been invoked by those who suffer from the plague and other diseases.

St Rosalia of Palermo was a virgin and hermit of the 12th Century living in Palermo, Sicily. She lived a life of prayer and penance in a cave where she died. In that cave her remains were found in 1624 after she appeared in visions to the faithful of Palermo during a plague that year ask that her bones be carried in procession through the city, after which the plague subsided.

Let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea: St Peter Chrysologus on the Disciplines of Lent

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320, 322)

Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives

There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.

When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.

Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.

Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold united prayer in our favor.

Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.

Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.

To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to the earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.

When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others