December 10, 2018
Center for Campus Ministry: December 10
Our News for the Week
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Center for Campus Ministry: December 10
From Our Associate Chaplain
For many, the Christmas season evokes scenes of quiet and peace: Happy families gathered in cozy houses around a softly crackling fire, while soft flakes of snow fall outside...A serene and reverent manger scene, with docile shepherds, fluffy animals, and pious magi gathered silently around a tiny baby and his awe-struck parents.
Yet, for many in our world, Christmas is far from quiet and peaceful. The fighting, the struggle, the suffering goes on. And even for those blessed few who do find Christmas to be a peaceful punctuation to the end of the calendar year, the moment is usually short lived. Come December 26, the decorations are down, the snow grows old and gray, the daily grind starts up again, and attention turns to New Year's, Valentine's Day, and beyond. The thought, "Why can't every day be Christmas," seems naive, wishful thinking.
I recently had the blessing to see a performance of the contemporary opera Silent Night, whichdramatizes the story of the famous "Christmas Truce" of 1914, when German, Scottish, and French soldiers during World War I stopped their fighting for one night, to celebrate Christmas Eve together. This powerful story highlights the absurdity of war--how could human beings go from singing, praying, and sharing their lives with each other one day to shooting at and blowing up each other the next?! The first act of the opera ends with a setting of the prayer, Dona nobis pacem ("Give us peace")--beautiful but sad, knowing that the peace those soldiers experienced that night would be but a short gasp for breath in the falsely named "war to end all wars."
Is Christmas, is peace just a naive hope or a blip on the screen until we return to our regularly scheduled programming? Why can't the coming of the Prince of Peace truly bring lasting peace to our world? While I can't claim to have "figured out" these questions, I'd like to share a few ideas to offer some perspective.
First, it's important to note that the idyllic Christmas scene we're used to seeing on Christmas cards doesn't really match the Bible's portrayal of Jesus' birth. Jesus was born into a poor family, desperately seeking shelter for Mary to deliver but finding only a cave, later fleeing to Egypt as migrant refugees to Egypt because of a corrupt and power-hungry political system.
Furthermore, in many Old Testament descriptions of the hoped for Messiah, he was expected to be a great warrior-king who would come not to bring peace, but to conquer enemies and turn the world upside down. We see this in Mary's Magnificat: "He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty" (Luke 1:51-53). We also see this theme of radical upheaval in the original French of the popular Christmas song, O Holy Night: "Le Roi des rois nait dans une humble creche: Puissants du jour, fiers de votre grandeur, A votre orgueil, c'est de la que Dieu preche. Courbez vos fronts devant le Redempteur" ("The King of Kings was born in a humble manger; O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness, It is to your pride that God preaches. Bow your heads before the Redeemer!"). From the beginning, Jesus' life was a threat to those who would rather keep the status quo, those for whom God's vision of justice impinges upon their power and comfort.
Yes, Jesus came to bring peace, but not in the way we think of peace and not without the pain of the cross. Is the peace we long for the peace of being left alone, the peace of mediocrity? If so, then the peace Jesus offers will not appeal to us. Or do we long for the radical peace found only in obedience to the one of whom we sing, "His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease"? If so, then the dream of living Christmas all year will become a reality only when we too are willing to set aside our comfort and lay down our lives for others. Peace begins not "out there" with treaties and ceasefires, but "in here" with the courage to be humble and love selflessly.
Near the end of the opera, Silent Night, the Scottish chaplain Father Palmer prays using the famous "Prayer of St. Francis" (the same Francis of Assisi who is famous for beginning the tradition of the nativity scene): "Make me a channel of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love. Where there is injury, Your pardon, Lord. And where there's doubt, true faith in You." May this be our prayer, not just at Christmas, but every day until the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace comes again.
The Office for Spirituality will host reflections by members of the University community. We will provide daily reflections during the Advent seasons. Many members of our community have commented how valuable they find it to receive these reflections in their mailboxes. If you would like to subscribe to receive these daily reflections, visit the Office for Spirituality's Seasonal Reflection page.
Tommie Catholic presents: Authentic Love
Apply to be a 2019-2020 Peer Minister
This is your last week to apply. Stop by Campus Ministry [ASC 207] at noon on Tuesday for an informational overview of the program.
Rooted in the Gospel's call to share the faith and go encounter others, Peer Ministers are committed to be a joyful, compassionate, and inviting presence on campus; serving all without distinction, and bringing the loving witness of Christ to everything they do.
As ministers among peers, Peer Ministers are first called to grow in their own relationship with God and then to be a presence of hope on campus by creating meaningful encounters that foster a supportive community and deepen the faith life of students.
Dates to know:
Application Deadline: Friday December 14
Peer Ministry Information Sessions in ASC 207:
Tuesday December 11, 12:00-1:00pm
All Student Leadership Positions require a resume, cover letter, and an interview. Take advantage of the opportunity to attend a workshop offered by the Career Development Center. See the information below.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebrations
Wednesday Meditations Continue
Take a mid-week break with Jesus! Join us every Wednesday from 9-10 PM at the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel for Eucharistic Adoration ending with Compline (Night Prayer). Depending on the Wednesday, the Adoration time will be in silence or with music. Come recharge by spending some time with God and your community.
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