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

Profiles in Faith: Flannery O’Connor

Every Friday, we look at a Catholic who lived out their discipleship by placing their talents at service to the common good in unique and interesting ways.

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Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story–just like the typewriter was mine.
—Flannery O’Connor

flannery01Mary “Flannery” O’Connor might seem like an odd instrument of God’s story. She lived most of her life with her mother on a farm, Adalusa at Millidgeville, GA where she was mostly confined due to her suffering from lupus, an incredibly painful and debilitating disease.  She was a writer of fiction, fiction often described as darkly humorous and even grotesque. She had an unusual affinity for birds, she took care of something like 40 peacocks at Andalusa in addition to a menagerie of other species. She was harsh in wit, easily irritable. And yet she saw the world with a prophetic, apocalyptic vision that she brought to her fiction and her life in profound ways.

Her faith and love for God and the Church were at the deepest heart of everything she did and strove to be, but there was not an ounce of sentimentality in the expression of that faith. There’s a great story to illustrate this, often repeated, but worth telling again. When O’Connor was just out of college she stayed for a time in an artists’ colony of sorts, Yaddo in New York. During her time in New York, she was invited to a dinner attended by then well-known author Mary McCarthy. Never particularly social, Little-known author from Georgia O’Connor was withdrawn through most of the dinner surrounded by New York elites. McCarthy, who knew of O’Connor’s deep faith and trying to draw her out, spoke about the Eucharist opining that it was such a beautiful symbol of Christ’s sacrifice.

Quietly, in her Georgia drawl, but strongly, Flannery O’Connor replied acerbically, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”

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Explicitly expressing faith and religion’s lack of comfort she wrote, “What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.” She had no illusions about faith being comfortable; it leads to inexpressible joy, yes, but only by a hard-fought fight and through the Cross.

In her fiction, essays and prolific letters, O’Connor constantly tore at the self-comforting and self-congratulating tendencies of people in a fallen world, especially those judgmental and with superficial piety. And she knew the power of grace which suffuses everything she wrote: “All my stories are about the action of grace in a character who is not very willing to support it.”

She avoided overtly religious settings, and her characters are generally misfits, outcasts, freaks, or backwoods fanatics inhabiting a “Christ-haunted South.” But they are stories rich with a sacramental economy, and the invasion of God’s love into a world enslaved to Sin. “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” quite probably her finest story, contains elements that bring out all her most important themes: a superficially faithful grandmother, getting lost on Southern back roads, a murder who has rejected a Christ he very much believes in, violence, and grace found in the most unexpected ways. To read the story is to face the Cosmic conflict between Sin and Grace while laughing.

Flannery O’Connor died of lupus at age 39, but her whole life—her suffering, her art, her discipline, her habits—had all been handed over to God. She had known that to take one’s God given talents and situation, and practice them and shape them well was to give Glory to God. A God who invaded with love the world broken by Sin that Flannery O’Connor prophetically and apocalypticly described, for she knew that were sin abounded, grace abounds all the more.

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Flannery O’Connor in the driveway at Andalusia, 1962. (Photo by Joe McTyre/ Atlanta Constitution).

Monday Mysteries: The Annunciation

Each week, we reflect on one of the events from the life of Jesus Christ that make up the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary.

Little boy child praying and holding wooden rosary.

Now, after we’ve covered what the Mysteries are and how to integrate them with the vocal prayers of the Rosary, we’ll get into the Mysteries themselves. And we shall start at the beginning, with THE ANNUNCIATION.

The event of the Annunciation, a word that means “announcement” or “proclamation,” is described in Scripture in the Gospel According to Luke 1:26-38. But every event of the Old Testament leads to this moment, and the cosmic implications of this event make up the rest of the New Testament, and indeed the rest of history itself. So what happened?

The Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1200px-Annunciation_ystujWhich might seem an odd thing to focus on. After all, the events as they happened: the Archangel Gabriel coming to Mary in Nazareth (“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”), the angel’s fantastic greeting and announcement, Mary’s profound humility (“How can this be?”), her “fiat” her complete “Yes!” to God, all of these are, in and of themselves, good substance for meditation (and we’ll return to them in the future). But if we look at how the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we see that the liturgical fruit of Her millennia of meditation on this mystery, is the celebration of the Incarnation and its implication for us.

Let’s take some of the Mass propers, the parts of the Mass unique to the day, for the Annunciation:

Collect (Opening Prayer): O God, who willed that your Word should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man, may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature. Who lives …

Prayer over the Offerings: Be pleased, almighty God, to accept your Church’s offering, so that she, who is aware that her beginnings lie in the Incarnation of your Only Begotten Son, may rejoice to celebrate his mysteries on this Solemnity. Who lives …

Prayer after Communion: Confirm in our minds the mysteries of the true faith, we pray, O Lord, so that, confessing that he who was conceived by the Virgin Mary is true God and true man, we may, through the saving power of his Resurrection, merit to obtain eternal Joy. Through … (all emphases added)

and in the rubrics for the solemnity there’s a great little note for when the Creed is said “At the words and was incarnate, all genuflect.

Through all the visible events and Mary’s faith (which makes up the content of the Mass readings), the Incarnation is held up as what is truly celebrated in the Annunciation.

So what of the Incarnation, itself a mystery too deep to be contained in one decade, that the Church celebrates in the Annunciation can we focus on for our meditation? Well, for today let’s take another look at the Collect from the Mass:

O God, who willed that your Word should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man, may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature. Who lives …

There are echoes here from another part of the Mass, during the Preparation of the Gifts. After  the priest or deacon has poured the wine into the chalice, he adds a little water and says quietly (which is why the congregation never hears it during Mass), “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

The phrase “partakers of the divine nature” reflected in the collect and worded as “to share in the divinity of Christ” from the prayer at the mixing of the water and wine, come from the Second Letter of Peter 1:4. What does it mean? Well, at the Resurrection when our bodies arise Transfigured “what we shall be has not yet been revealed. [but] We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). And to be like him, is to share in that which makes the Son of God, God. It means that the Son of God became Man not only to redeem us from slavery to Sin and Death, but by His incarnation, in which he humbled himself to our human nature, he, in turn, shares with us his divine nature, his “glory and excellence” (2 Pt 1:3).

The Annunciation that we’re meditating on—the moment of the Incarnation of the Lord—is the moment when God not only announces that he shall save us from Powers and Principalities, and it is not just a promise that he shall reign over all in righteousness; it is the moment when, as he took on the “reality of human flesh,” he pledged to us a share in his divine nature.

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The Church fathers were so floored by this that their language, attempting to describe this consequence of the Incarnation, quoted in the Catechism, seems not just hyperbolic, but almost heretical:

460 The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”: “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” [St. Irenaeus] “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God. [St Athanasius]  “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.” [St Thomas Aquinas]

THIS is the content of the Annunciation. This is the promise behind Jesus telling us “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” (John 15:10) and St Paul saying “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” It is the image which is reflected perfectly in the final Mystery of the Rosary, the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth—if we accept in Faith the Incarnation of our Lord proclaimed at the Annunciation, that Jesus Christ is True God and True Man, become his disciple, take up our cross, and follow his commandments, we shall share in God’s Lordship over Creation.

To meditate on the Mysteries of the Life of Jesus Christ is to lead us on the same journey to which he calls each and everyone of us. So starting with your meditation on the Annunciation, in which the promise is announced, make that next firm footstep in the Way that is Jesus Christ, sure of the destination ahead: the glory fulfilled at the end of our Meditations, to partake in the divinity of the one who humbled himself to our humanity.

I’d say that was worth thinking about for the space of 10 Hail Mary’s.

So go! pray the Rosary and in the words of St Paul “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power … to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

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Profiles in Faith: John Leary

Every Friday, we’ll take a look at Catholics who made a difference living out their discipleship, placing their talents at service to the common good in unique and interesting ways.

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Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called Children of God.

John Leary was 24 years old when he died in 1982. He suffered from an undiagnosed arrhythmia in his heart and went into cardiac arrest while running. But for all the shortness of his life, it was a life aglow with the Spirit, completely dedicated to love of God and neighbor. At his funeral, attended by hundreds, Fr. McCarthy called Leary a “magna cum laude Harvard graduate and summa cum laude Catholic Worker.” Leary was a young man totally dedicated to seeking holiness in his life and putting his faith into practice. Everything he did was in relationship to Jesus Christ and informed by the proclamation of the Gospel.

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He grew up in an Irish-Catholic family, but his identity in faith went through his cultural upbringing and all the way to the foot of the cross, which he saw as the ultimate expression of non-violence in the face of evil. He was inspired by Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton to integrate sacrament, prayer, discipline and tradition with action inspired by the Gospel.

He attended Daily Mass without fail and received frequent communion; he often went to Confession for he knew that refusing to name an evil act as such, led to calling an evil good; his prayer life was rich, praying the rosary daily, and indeed he told friends that while he ran, a daily discipline, he prayed the Jesus prayer—Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner—and so likely died with the name of Jesus upon his lips. He relentlessly studied and meditated on the faith through reading of scripture and the writings of the saints.

From this good soil of the sacraments and prayer, his life bore much fruit in living out his faith. He evangelized with gentle argument, he co-founded and worked at an institute dedicated to pursuing peace through Christian practice, lived and served at a Catholic Worker home, and practice intentional non-violent protest of abortion, military draft, and capital punishment. He was once beat up by workers for protesting at a weapons plant, and when his friends begged him to consider his safety he said “survival is not the ultimate priority” but the Gospel.

But for all his prayer, and toiling in the vineyard, and suffering, his joy and hope, modesty and wisdom were evident in his manner, his speech, and in his eyes: “You could look into those eyes and see all the way, right to heaven—the goodness was so powerful and the honesty unlike anyone I’ve ever met.” Such was he described by Sister Evelyn Ronan (his Catholic Campus minister at Harvard) but I found similar sentiments expressed by many who knew him.

According to Rev. Gomes, “The difference with John was that he discovered that life had no purpose, no meaning, no direction, and no focus apart from the purpose and focus of God … He became in his short life the complete and total man for others, and those who knew him and loved him testify to the love of Christ that shone in and through him.” We may not be called to non-violent protest, or to take the homeless into our own homes, as John Leary did; but we can be inspired by this “little saint of Harvard” to a joyful life informed by the Gospel, lived for God, and to pursue all that we do for Christ, laying all our talents and works at His feet.


I first read about John Leary in Robert Ellsberg’s All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time but you can also read more about him at this ChurchPop article about his life.

Monday Mysteries: Praying the Mysteries

Each week, we reflect on one of the events from the life of Jesus Christ that make up the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary.

Little boy child praying and holding wooden rosary.

Last week, we discussed what the mysteries of the Rosary are, and why they’re called mysteries. This week, before jumping into reflection on the individual mysteries themselves, we’ll look at how to incorporate meditation on the mysteries—events from the incarnate life of Christ—with the vocal prayers of the Rosary Chaplet.

As we mentioned last week, a Rosary chaplet is made up of 5 decades of ten beads, each decade preceded by a larger or separated bead. Each bead represents a particular common vocal prayer: on the separate bead one prays the “Our Father”; for each bead of the decade, pray a “Hail Mary” and once the decade is finished, a “Glory be…” Once the individual prayer is recited, your fingers slide to the next bead in the sequence and pray the corresponding vocal prayer. However, as the vocal prayers are said aloud, mentally the intention is to be actively reflecting on an event from the incarnate life of Jesus Christ with mind and heart. That is to be meditating on the Mystery.

So what do we mean by meditation? Well, let’s see what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

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2705 Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. […]

2708 Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him. (emphasis added)

So meditation is seeking understanding, and it’s done by engaging thought, imagination, emotion and desire. In meditating on the mysteries, we’re seeking to understand what God reveals to us about himself and his plan of salvation in the Incarnate Life of Christ. So as we meditate we should be asking ourselves questions like “Who’s present at this moment? (BTW, part of the answer to that is always ‘me’)” “When is it happening?” (both in history and relatively to the whole incarnate life of Jesus) “Where is it taking place?” “What’s happening?” Good basic understanding questions, but also we need to look Spiritually at the mystery and ask “How is Jesus’ divinity revealed in this Mystery?” “What signs of the Kingdom are occurring? (esp. revealing of God’s Church) ” “What is Jesus calling me to do through this mystery? or what’s the moral lesson of this mystery?” “How does this mystery point forward in hope toward the fulfillment of God’s redeeming power at the Last Judgment?”

How do we seek for those answers? By using our thought/reasoning, imagination, emotions, and desires! Our thinking about the mystery will be helped by reading Scripture, and not the just scripture that describes the mystery itself, but the whole of Scripture which reveals Christ on every page. Use the imagination to go beyond the description of the event in Scripture. If a mystery takes place in the Temple, for example, who else was there (priests, pilgrims, tourists,  money-changers, watchful Roman soldiers, etc)? What were the sounds (chanting of psalms, braying of animals, fervent prayers), the sights, the smells? (the Temple likely smelled like a cookout from all the holocaust offerings!) Let your imagination fill in the likely details to make it a living scene in your mind and heart. Using that imagination, “witness” the events, then ask yourself, how would you feel if you were there ? How do you think the others there felt, and from different viewpoints—Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna, on-lookers?

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The artistic result of Hans Holbein’s meditation on the Presentation in the Temple.

Finally, encountering the living Word of God in prayer should call you to action, so we ask “What desire is God inspiring in me in this encounter?” or “What is He asking of me, his disciple?” This could be a call to action as a Work of Mercy, a change in one’s moral behavior, a thirst for more knowledge about God, an increase for love of God and his saints (especially his Mother), a more fervent desire to take up one’s cross, or any desire that leads you to greater participation in God’s kingdom.

In the end, Meditation on the Mysteries is to immerse yourself in mind and heart into the Life of Christ: to have a living encounter with the Incarnate Word of God, and allow yourself to be radically transformed by that encounter.

So go! pray the Rosary and in the words of St Paul “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power … to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).


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Monday Mysteries: What are the “Mysteries”?

Each week, we reflect on one of the events from the life of Jesus Christ that make up the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary.

Little boy child praying and holding wooden rosary.

Welcome to Monday Mysteries. Each week on this blog and in our newsletter we’ll meditate on each of the Holy Mysteries of the Rosary. But first, we should talk about the mysteries in general: what are they, and why are they called “mysteries”?

A typical set of Rosary beads, or Rosary chaplet, consists of a Crucifix, a “tail” of 5 beads, and in a circuit five sets of 10 beads each separated by a space in the chain and single bead. The part of the Rosary we’re focused on relating to the mysteries is that set of 10 beads, known as a “decade” (10 years to a calendar decade, 10 beads to a Rosary decade). While our fingers pass over the beads of that decade, vocally we’re praying a “Hail Mary” per bead, but mentally the intention is to be actively reflecting on an event from the incarnate life of Jesus Christ with mind and heart. Those events are called THE MYSTERIES. Usually while praying the Rosary, the particular event being meditated upon—the mystery—is announced at the start of the decade.

Tradition has grouped the Mysteries thematically into four sets of five events (hence 5 decades on a Rosary chaplet), which also roughly correspond to a period in the incarnate Life of Christ. We’ll be going more in detail over these events in the coming weeks, but we’ll just name them here.rosary_mysteries

There are the JOYFUL Mysteries, events from Jesus conception until his hidden life at Nazareth; the LUMINOUS Mysteries cover the period of Jesus’ public ministry; the SORROWFUL Mysteries dwell on Jesus’ passion and death; and the GLORIOUS Mysteries celebrate Jesus Christ in His glory.

So why are they called Mysteries? Because in the contemplation of these events, Jesus’ Divine Life is something hidden, revealed by the Father through faith. Mysteries are that hidden life of Christ—his divine Sonship, his personhood in the Trinity, his plan of Salvation—revealed to us by the Father. They are not something we can uncover through reason alone: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 16:17) A mystery, then, is a thing revealed (just as a Mystery novel reveals “whodunnit”), and the goal of meditating on these Mysteries is an encounter in faith with the revealed Incarnate Son of God who is LORD for ever and ever.

So go! pray the Rosary and in the words of St Paul “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power … to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).


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Meet the Campus Minister: David

20479962_657173237825919_8478502098659295988_nThis is a year of transition for AVL|CCM. Gloria, who had been the campus minister at UNCA since 2009, retired and the Diocese chose and called David Mayeux to be the new minister to AB Tech, Mars Hill University, UNCA and Warren Wilson. Becca Andrews, who graduated Spring 2018, had some questions to learn about AVL|CCM’s new Campus Minister. It’s a long read, so the questions are linked to focus on the ones you’re most interested in.


What is your name?
Where are you from/ where do you consider home?
Where did you go to school? what did you study?
What drew you to Catholicism?
What was your first job/ any job before this one? What did you want to be when you were a kid?
What is your family like? Any cute kid stories?
What drew you to young adult ministry?
Why do you think students should join CCM/ be involved in their faith in college?
Any advice for incoming students? or graduating students?
One goal for this school year? Is there anything you are excited for or nervous about?
Who or what inspires you?
What do you consider to be one of the biggest issues facing the world right now? the U.S.? the Catholic Church? NC? Asheville?
What is the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen recently?
Confirmation saint/ favorite saint?
Do you have any surprising talents?
Favorite thing to do in your downtime?
Favorite book, movie or TV show?
Favorite type of music or favorite artist?
Favorite meal?

“Campus Ministry’s a call not just to survive college, or to get a degree that leads to a job, or to have fun (though we’ll help you accomplish that, too). It’s a call to transcendent greatness.”

What is your name?

My name is David Michael Mayeux.  I actually really love names, and finding their origins. I am named after the Biblical king whose name means “beloved [of God]” in Hebrew and my father’s best friend, “Michael” Hebrew for “who is like God?”; Mayeux links me to my father’s Cajun roots in Louisiana.  In France there is a “Saint-Mayeux” township, and I’d imagine that’s where the Mayeuxs hail from… but who was Saint Mayeux? Google has failed me so far. I spent some time discerning monasticism and at the abbey my name was Brother Ædan, the name picked out by my brother after the Irish monk St. Ædan of Ferns.

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Where are you from/ where do you consider home?

I was born in Elizabeth City, NC, which sort of makes me a Tarheel Native, but my father was in the Coast Guard at the time, and we moved to a few other states before we settled in Asheville. My family has been here since I was nine (and I kept coming back the few times I left), so Asheville’s home.

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Where did you go to school? what did you study?

I went to school at Appalachian State University under a NC Teaching Fellowship. I earned my Bachelor’s of English, Secondary Education and taught High School English for four years after I graduated. What I studied, however, was anything that grabbed my interest from the course catalogue and the library: Biology, Film studies, graphic novels, World Religions, Mandarin, Spanish (I remember hardly anything of these), Political science, Philosophy. I realized I was never going to have the chance again to learn about these things with help from passionate academics, so I grabbed on with both hands.

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What drew you to Catholicism?

(chuckles) this question betrays you know I’m a “convert” or as the Church prefers one who has come into “full communion” as I’d already been Baptized as a Protestant. I came into the Church just after graduating college, actually. It’s really not a pat answer, though it’ll sound like it, but what drew me to the Church was the Holy Spirit; how I was drawn to the Church was through Star Wars (eps. IV, V, VI), stories about King Arthur and the Grail quest, the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett, Role Playing Games, the Christopher Walken cult-film The Prophecy, The Crow staring Brandon Lee, the unshakeable sense that the supernatural and transcendent is real, British Literature, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, in particular , the intellectual rigor of St Thomas Aquinas, the passionate mystical poverty of St Francis of Assisi, a really welcoming priest, the existence of Carthusians, the Eucharist; in roughly that order.

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What was your first job/ any job before this one? What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a paleontologist when I was a kid, in equal parts because I was fascinated by dinosaurs and I liked the sound of the word “paleontologist”. Interest in words won out over interest in fossils. My first job was working at McDonald’s. I’ve worked in a bookstore, at libraries, and as a high school English teacher. My last job before campus ministry was stay-at-home dad to my kids, but I was doing parish ministry with RCIA and Parish Council in that time, too.

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What is your family like? Any cute kid stories? 🙂

(laughs) to talk about my family would be to just brag about my kids who are two of my favorite people. I have two children, Benedict (2) and Genevieve (1). They are both named after saints, the father of Western Monasticism and the patron saint of Paris, respectively. Ben loves “diggers” construction equipment, and Evie loves chasing after her big brother. My wife’s a nurse anesthetist at Mission Hospital. She’s from a large, loud Italian/Irish-New York family, and I’m from a family of Cajun/WASP-introverts. Interestingly, the kids show attributes of both so far.

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What drew you to young adult ministry?

A dare. While I was High School Youth Minister at my parish (St Lawrence), I challenged the kids to seek out other parish groups/ministries to be a part of according to their interests. I myself wasn’t a part of any other groups at the time and realized the hypocrisy of telling the kids to do something I myself hadn’t done. So I started going to the parish’s Young Adult Group, The Vine. There I met the woman who would be my wife, the Young Adult Ministry leader, and she asked me about my ideas to make the group better. And so I started helping her try to do that. Our focus was on forming genuine bonds of community (among Catholic young adults, and of young adults to the greater Church community), promoting mystagogy (a deeper understanding of the faith, especially the sacraments), serving the poor of Asheville, and calling young adults to heroically living their faith (i.e. sainthood). That’s pretty much my program for CCM, too.

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Why do you think students should join CCM/ be involved in their faith in college?

Well, being Catholic and on campus makes you a part of Catholic Campus Ministry, whether you know it or not. Where the People of God are, there is the Church. The question is whether students will answer the Holy Spirit who speaks to their heart in seeking the bonds of faith with other Catholics in liturgical worship, prayer, Works of Mercy, and the desire to put one’s talents and gifts at the service of the common good.

Jesus Christ constantly calls us to go out into the deep, into deeper relationship with his Father, through discipleship to himself, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Intentional Catholic Campus Ministry is made up of those students, faculty, staff, and Diocesan ministers who have answered that call, and in communion with the Holy Trinity and each other seek to come together in community, grow in their faith and its practice, strengthen Virtue, proclaim and live justice, develop our gifts and talents for service to the common good, and desire to be living models of discipleship in the Church, on campus and beyond. In other words, Catholic Campus Ministry is the community of the faithful helping one another answer the Universal Call to Holiness, to become saints, to be in communion with God, and proclaiming that call in word and deed on campus.

It’s amazing. Campus Ministry s a call not just to survive college, or to get a degree that leads to a job, or to have fun (though we’ll help you accomplish that, too). It’s a call to transcendent greatness.

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Any advice for incoming students? or graduating students?

Yes. to the incoming students (and really everybody), make a routine and stick to it. Our lives are governed by rhythms—breathe in:breath out, night:day, rest:work:leisure, fall:winter:spring:summer, etc—we do best to recognize the need for rhythm and order in our lives that a routine can provide. Note the most important things—Mass, prayer, spiritual reading, study, sleep, meals of real food, exercise, family, true friendships, leisure that rests in the true, good, and beautiful—take your planner, or Calendar app, and SET (by actually marking down or creating repeating events) when those will be and give them the time needed to do them well. Commit to that routine until you absolutely have to revise it for some reason (like a new semester). Routine and structure aren’t  prisons, but like the buttresses of a Gothic cathedral, open up space in our life for what is truly Good.

Graduating students, You are salt and light, season the world and cast light scattering the darkness using the skills and knowledge you have gained (see Matthew 5:13-16) “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rom 12:2) “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8). “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who [indeed] is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:3-5)

“Routine and structure aren’t  prisons, but like the buttresses of a Gothic cathedral, open up space in our life for what is truly Good.”

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One goal for this school year? Is there anything you are excited for or nervous about?

To bring the Liturgy of the Hours to campus as a regular and integral part of Campus Ministry. “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows,” teaches the Church. Campus Ministry cannot be a living, breathing, member of the Body of Christ without the liturgy. Yes, we celebrate the Mass, often as a community together on Sunday, which cannot be eclipsed, but to celebrate liturgy as a part of our ministerial community, right at campus, will add a depth and richness to the presence of the Spirit for Campus Ministry that result in fruits I can’t even imagine. I’m excited about that.

What I’m nervous about is following in the footsteps of Gloria Schweizer! I’ve known her as long as I’ve been doing any ministry, and her passion, compassion, energy, and joyfulness are daunting to live up to! She gave me the wise words that I can only bring myself, my gifts and talents that God gave me, to my ministerial work on campus, but still. Big shoes to fill. (Clown shoes, actually, for those who know her …)

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Who or what inspires you?

After Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, a lot, but here are some spiritual highlights: The Mass, lectio divina, the Liturgy of the Hours (esp. Office of Readings and Lauds), the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), St Paul, Sts Perpetua and Felicity, St Augustine of Hippo, St Benedict, St Aelred of Rivaulx, St Theresa of Avila, Benedictines, Carthusians, Trappists, Carmelites, Bd. John Henry Newman, Pope Paul VI, Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Robert Barron, Dr. Peter Kreeft, Dante, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Stratford Caldecott, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Adrienne von Speyr, the Theotokos of Vladimir, the Isenheim Altarpiece (Crucifixion) of Grunewald, the music of Arvo Part, the Hymns of the Divine Office, the films of David Lynch and Orson Welles, my wife, my kids. And this story from the Desert Fathers:

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office. I fast a little. I pray. I meditate. I live in peace and as far as I can. I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” Then the old man stood up, stretched his hands towards heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire, and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”
—Sayings of the Desert Fathers (tr. Benedicta Ward)

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What do you consider to be one of the biggest issues facing the world right now? the U.S.? the Catholic Church? NC? Asheville?

World: “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” -Ephesians 6:12

United States: We “trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save.”   -Psalm 146:3

Catholic Church: “It has been reported to me about you, [ …] that there are rivalries among you.” -1 Corinthians 1:11

North Carolina: Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land: “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, And the sabbath, that we may open the grain-bins? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the destitute for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the worthless grain we will sell!” -Amos 8:4-6

Asheville: Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” -John 18:38 AND ‘“if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, … you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,”’ -James 2:2-3

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Confirmation saint? favorite saint?

My confirmation saint is Joseph of Arimathea, a pick inspired by the Grail legends associated with King Arthur, but meditation on his role in the Gospels as the one who receives the Body of Christ from the Cross has made the choice much more profound.

Asking me to pick a favorite saint is like asking me which stone in Chartres Cathedral is your favorite? I love the Church because I love her saints as they come together like notes in a cosmic symphony. That being said, there’s a reason my first-born son is named Benedict; here was a man who desired holiness, tried to find it in solitude, but discovered that community was the forge in which God most often shapes saints. He tried a community of super strict asceticism, but after they tried to poison him, he realized maybe he needed to tone it down a bit. He applied the Gospel to set practical rules for living, and left a short, but enduring, treatise his Rule for Monks on living in a community wholly ordered to God that guides and inspires communities to this day. It seeks the balance and complementary of prayer and work, liturgy and personal prayer (lectio divina), leadership and humility, recognizes individual talents and teaches the necessity to use them for the common good. The patrimony of spirituality in the Church is rich and diverse, and I love sharing that diversity with others, as I will in CCM, but I suspect that if you watch closely, there will be a recognizable Benedictine character to my actions, much as there was an Ignatian character to Gloria’s.

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Now just some fun questions: What is the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen recently?

Most interesting thing I’ve read recently is The Crucifixion by Flemming Rutledge, a cri de coer to return the Cross of Christ to the heart of preaching and a multi-layered meditation on the meaning of the Crucifixion that is breathtaking.

The most interesting movie I’ve seen lately was Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve. The plot is about aliens and world crises, but really the movie is about language and understanding, how language affects our perception of creation, and how we heal from our woundedness. It was thoughtful and creative, visually stunning and a good story.

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Do you have any surprising talents?

That’s a hard question because they’re not surprising to me … it was surprising that I once had a woman offer to buy some paper snowflakes that I’d cut from scrap paper.

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Favorite thing to do in your downtime?

Read books or watch movies that are “fairy stories” a la Tolkien’s definition, stories that remove me to a place far removed from my own that in doing so reveals Truth about this world.

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Favorite book, movie or TV show?

Book(s): J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, St Aelred of Rievaulx’s Spiritual Friendship,

Movies: Iron Giant, Brick, The Third Man

TV Show: Twin Peaks

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Favorite type of music or favorite artist?

composer Arvo Part, Cambodian Psychedelic Rock, Johnny Cash

Favorite meal?

Chipotle Chicken Burrito from Urban Burrito, or pizza. And coffee and pie.

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