Holy MOLY!

We Are Called

The Catholic Church has embarked on a renewed mission that seeks to invite all into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. The mission, called the New Evangelization, calls us first to know who Jesus is and his existence in our lives. It calls for us to reach out to those who perhaps have “lost their faith, or no longer find a home in any Church… or perhaps have never known Jesus.”

Christ calls all people to himself. We need to reach all people. Throughout his public ministry, Jesus welcomed the stranger, healed the sick, offered forgiveness, and expressed his eagerness to give rest to the weary and burdened. We want to be that on our campus. How do we, today, follow the call and summons of Jesus to seek out the stranger, heal the sick, and welcome the weary?

The New Evangelization is helping us channel our efforts to do just that. Each of us is called to deepen our own relationship with Jesus, have confidence in the Gospel, and be willing to share it. If we don’t know Jesus, how can we share our relationship with him with others? How can we share this Good News? We need to make Jesus the center of our evangelizing. We need to share our own stories of conversion and our love for Christ.

Pope Francis has written a wonderful apostolic exhortation called the Joy of the Gospel which helps Christians to better understand our call to share in the joy we experience in Jesus.

We have many Christian groups on campus that are led by and joined by faith-filled staff, students, and faculty. Their call is to provide campus ministries whose doors are open and welcoming to all. Pope Francis says we are called to “stop rushing from one thing to another” and be present to someone. Just one person. We must be always ready to welcome a new face or someone returning back to our ministries after a time away.

Pope Francis says our campus ministries are to be “sanctuaries where the thirsty can come to drink in the midst of their journeys.” We should be loving and show mercy. We must get involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives. We should also be “center of constant missionary outreach.” This love should be at the core of our efforts to care for the marginalized and needy.

We are challenged to go forth in joy despite times when ministry isn’t joyful. We are challenged in our respective ministries to see if we follow the call to “grow in Christian life, dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration.” Do we put ourselves out there and possibly be hurt in our attempts to reach all people? Isn’t it worth it??

Pope Francis said, “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”
Soooo, we are called:

To go forth and make disciples of all (students)…to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel.
To go forth and invite all to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
To go forth in joy as we plant seeds of trust and love.
To go forth with each other as a team, relying on each other as brothers and sisters.
To go forth breathing new life into the ministry for an authentic evangelical spirit.
To go forth to satisfy the thirsty and teach the entire truth of the Gospel.
To go forth and get muddy.

Kaky Bowden

Posted in Kaky

Looking Ahead to Lent

It’s that time of year again – time to gear up for another Lent! Ready or not, the invitation to “fast, pray, and give alms” begins a week from today on Ash Wednesday. For those unfamiliar with this holy season, Lent is a time of spiritual preparation and special practices leading up to Holy Week and Easter. When I was a child, the emphasis in Lent was always on sacrifice and giving something up. As I grew older the emphasis shifted to doing something extra as a way of practicing one’s faith. Ultimately, there is no one right way to observe Lent, as each person is in a different place in their spiritual journey.

For me a guiding question in considering my own Lenten practice is: How will this help me to pay attention to God’s presence in my life and to heed more deeply the guidance of the Spirit? Read more ›

Posted in Anne

Reflection

While in college I was sexually assaulted. His name was Mike and we were on a date. I said no. He chose not to hear me….and yeah, I became a victim. The day after the incident I told a friend. The friend helped me weave an imaginary tale which allowed me to pretend the assault never happened. Then he called me. In my attempt to process what happened I finally asked, “Why did you do this? You heard me say no.” His response was curt and to the point. “Someone took my virginity and I was determined to take yours.” I hung up.

What does someone do with all that? My 19-year-old self could not imagine pressing charges. It would be my word against his and there were no visible scars. In the eighties in my town and at my Baptist college, sexual assault was not discussed. Date rape was considered a term victims used to rationalize their consent. Sexual conquest was applauded and it was thought the victim “asked for it.” I also did not tell my parents.

What does someone do with all that? The healthy thing would have been to not do what I did. I bottled it all up inside of me and pretended the assault never happened. Except…it did. The sexual assault changed everything, even my spiritual life. I had to wrestle with losing my virginity. Once something I held up as proof of my faithfulness was gone I wondered if God could still use me and my brokenness, my incompleteness…my imperfection. I even wondered how God could love me. It took a great deal of time and patience to knit myself back together as my crisis of faith gave birth to an even deeper faith and sense of worth and value.

Even after all these years, all the processing of the event and the knitting myself back together, I have scars. My heart stops when someone I do not know creeps up on me. I go into a hyper-vigilant stance when I perceive threat or when someone violates my personal space. I become aggressive when someone tries to “take something” from me and every once in a while I feel guilty for not having been more careful. Thoughts of what I should have done…or not done occasionally pierce my dreams. Things that happen to us in college change us.

Lynchburg College has an Interpersonal Misconduct Policy. Recently procedures and policies were updated to include mandates the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) insists are present on college campuses. Copies of the Interpersonal Misconduct Policy and Response Procedures are provided in all our campus offices. In the manual confidential sources are identified. Rights for charged students and complainants are specified. Reporting options are detailed. Response procedures are outlined. Disciplinary procedures are spelled out. On campus and off campus resources are published. This document can also be found on the Lynchburg College website.

Things that happen to us in college do change us. Had there been policies and procedures in place when I was a student, I would have had advocates and resources and the support I needed to navigate the cacophony of emotions that made my world so very dark and hopeless.

While I cannot prevent sexual assault from happening to our students, I can be confident that if it does, procedures, policies and resources are in place to help. It is the Lynchburg College way and I for one am thankful to be a HORNET!

by Katrina Brooks
Campus Pastor and InFaith Community Senior Pastor

Posted in Katrina

Spiritual Journey and Bowling Balls

My personal mission statement for my work at Lynchburg College is that each member of our community will have opportunity for spiritual growth while they are here. I hope that students, faculty and staff have a place for growth along whatever path of faith or non-faith that he or she chooses—whatever path that makes sense to him or her at that time. For some members of our community that is a broader statement than is comfortable for them, but I also know few faith journeys that are linear—and college is a time of exploration of spirit as well as academic pursuits. Read more ›

Posted in Stephanie

The Spirit of Selma

Over the break my husband and I saw the movie “Selma” at a local theater. While I knew something of the background of this monumental chapter of the civil rights movement, watching a reenactment of that fateful Sunday in March of 1965 was very disturbing. As I watched hundreds of courageous men and women march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery to demand the right to vote for all people, I tried to imagine what it must have felt like. What kind of inner strength enables an individual to move forward, putting one foot in front of the other, knowing the perils that undoubtedly awaited on the other side from opponents to equality who have demonized you and wish nothing more than to destroy you and all that you stand for? Read more ›

Posted in Anne

Happy Holidays

So let’s name Lynchburg College as a community with some diversities of economic status, race, ethnicities, political views, sexual orientations…thousands of other things… and of faith and non-faith traditions. We may do well with our diversity on some days and not as well on other days. We have different comfort levels with some communities than with others. Most of us struggle daily with the concept of “us” and “them” regardless of which group we find ourselves among in any given discussion.

When we get to December it becomes even more difficult. I helped get a new Christmas tree for Drysdale, and since we are at a church-related college Christmas is alright…right? In my puritanical moments I think Christians “should” focus on Advent all the way until Christmas Eve, and work harder to avoid the great altar of consumerism. Hanukkah starts December 16th so let’s get a Menorah. Some are celebrating Kwanza this year on campus so shall we get a Kinara? Winter Solstice is coming too. Read more ›

Posted in Stephanie

A Time of Reflection and Hope

This week begins the season of Advent, a time of reflection and spiritual preparation leading up to the celebration ferguson-free-hugofChristmas. Two images inform my understanding of Advent this year. The first is that of the traditional Advent wreath, a circle of greenery with four candles for each week of the season. The other image is a photograph that has gone viral of a police officer in Portland, Oregon hugging a 12-year-old African-American boy. According to a CNN website:

“The boy, Devonte Hart, was holding a sign offering ‘Free Hugs’ during a Tuesday protest over a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum approached Devonte and extended his hand. Barnum said he approached Devonte ‘not as a police officer but just a human being’ when he saw him crying.” A hug and conversation followed soon thereafter and the photo is now referred to as the hug shared round the world.
Read more ›

Posted in Anne

Thankful Thanksgiving

The Spiritual Life staff prides itself on meaningful low-budget programs, and two years ago Anne Gibbons was inspired to start Thankful Thursdays. We have a banner and some note cards that get set up by different people and organizations on Thursdays, and we offer the community an opportunity to simply say thank you to someone who has helped them or who deserves a pat on the back. We offer both on-campus mailing of thank-yous as well as posting of off-campus notes. Thankful Thursday has been so successful that last year it challenged the Spiritual Life postage budget! The community has even written notes to student center donors and the crews that have done the construction.

Next week is Thanksgiving and since there is no Thanksgiving Eve service this year, you are invited to participate in Super-Thankful Thursday and see if we can’t break records of the number of notes we collect. Please travel safely!

Prayer of Gratitude
O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
when I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
when I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
when I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer.
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency,
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help,
by word and deed, those who cry
out for what we take for granted.

Native American Prayer
Give thanks
for unknown blessings
already on their way.

Child’s Prayer
Thank you for the world so sweet.
Thank you for the things we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you, God, for everything.

Blessings, Stephanie

Posted in Stephanie

Living Creativity

You may have noticed the image at the top of the Chaplain’s Corner representing the Center for Spiritual Life at Lynchburg College. When I was asked to describe or explain my process for creating this painting, I realized how difficult it would be to explain. So much of my process is spiritual in nature. I oftentimes go to a place that is within me, a place that is meditative and unexplainable.

I began by thinking of ways I can create an image that represents the interfaith and ecumenical nature of our mission on campus for an upcoming Christmas card last year. I was given a picture of different symbols of different faith traditions. Each symbol was painted inside a white circle including a circle that was left blank to leave room for faith traditions not yet discovered.

Read more ›

Posted in Kay

Rituals, Not Remedies

“Once a Hornet, always a Hornet.” Our LC Hornet family grieves deeply this week with the reality that two of our best and brightest are no longer with us. Brogan Franklin ’13 and Chelsea Meager ’14 both died in the past week as the result of unrelated car accidents. It is a painful and difficult time in the life of our community. Unfortunately we have been down this road before and mourned the untimely and tragic deaths of other students with other stories.

As a chaplain I often have the privilege of being involved a bit more directly and personally with those most affected by death. Yet I still find myself often at a loss with what to say and how best to respond. I’ve been to countless workshops on grief and I have read many books and articles on death, dying, and loss. However, sharing in the intimate and vulnerable moments of those who are grieving is still difficult. Read more ›

Posted in Anne