Saturday, February 16

Lent reading


For the next five months I continued to visit Pearl, until I left to attend college in southern Indiana. Several times each week I brought Pearl Holy Communion, then we would talk. Pearl had grown up in Michigan and moved to Florida after high school. She had been wild in her late teens and early twenties, she said, until life dealt her an unfortunate blow—terminal cancer. Now she lay abandoned in a nursing home; her husband rarely visited her, her family was far away. Although she had every earthly reason to be, she was neither sad nor dejected. In fact, she was the most joyful person I had ever known. What was her secret? 

 Pearl held up the crucifix she always cradled near her. “It’s the power of the cross,” she replied. Her sickness had helped her to rediscover the faith of her childhood; she had experienced the power of uniting her own suffering with the Passion and death of the Lord. She had relinquished her own plans and opened herself up to God’s plan for her, even if it meant a short life on earth. This book is the fruit of those meetings I had with Pearl almost twenty-five years ago.

"michael dubruiel"

Wednesday, February 13

Ash Wednesday and Lent on Pinterest

A Pinterest board with links to resources related to Lent. Mostly spiritual reading for adults, with a few blog posts and books for children as well. 

You can find it here: 

"amy welborn"


The entire Christian life is a response to God’s love. The first response is precisely faith as the acceptance, filled with wonder and gratitude, of the unprecedented divine initiative that precedes us and summons us. And the “yes” of faith marks the beginning of a radiant story of friendship with the Lord, which fills and gives full meaning to our whole life. But it is not enough for God that we simply accept his gratuitous love. Not only does he love us, but he wants to draw us to himself, to transform us in such a profound way as to bring us to say with Saint Paul: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (cf. Gal 2:20).
When we make room for the love of God, then we become like him, sharing in his own charity. If we open ourselves to his love, we allow him to live in us and to bring us to love with him, in him and like him; only then does our faith become truly “active through love” (Gal 5:6); only then does he abide in us (cf. 1 Jn 4:12).

-Pope Benedict XVI's Message for Lent, 2013 

Monday, February 11

Pope Benedict Resigns

A couple of years ago, I wrote a short book  - an introduction to the thought of Pope Benedict XVI.  It has since gone out of print, but you can download a pdf version of it here or read it on Scribd here (Scribd charges extra to download - but reading on the website is free) 

Pope Benedict XVI


More on the book:

...this book is centered on Christ as the center of Pope Benedict's thought and work as theologian and vocation as Pope. It seems to me that he is "proposing Jesus Christ" both to the world and to the Church. He is about reweaving a tapestry that has been sorely frayed and tattered:

  •  Offering the Good News to a broken humanity and a suffering world that in Jesus Christ, all of our yearnings and hopes are fulfilled and all of our sins forgiven. We don't know who we are or why we are here. In Christ, we discover why. But it is more than an intellectual discovery. In Christ - in Christ - we are joined to him, and his love dwells within us, his presence lives and binds us.
  •  Re-presenting Jesus Christ even to those of us who are members of the Body already. This wise, experienced man has seen how Christians fall. How we forget what the point is. How we unconsciously adopt the call of the world to see our faith has nothing more than a worthy choice of an appealing story that gives us a vague hope because it is meaningful. He is calling us to re-examine our own faith and see how we have been seduced by a view of faith that puts it in the category of "lifestyle choice." 
  • Challenging the modern ethos that separates "faith" and "spirituality" from "religion" - an appeal that is made not only to non-believers, but to believers as well, believers who stay away from Church, who neglect or scorn religious devotions and practices, who reject the wisdom of the Church - one cannot have Christ without Church.

A Pinterest Lent

A Pinterest board with links to resources related to Lent. Mostly spiritual reading for adults, with a few blog posts and books for children as well. 

You can find it here: 

"amy welborn"


The entire Christian life is a response to God’s love. The first response is precisely faith as the acceptance, filled with wonder and gratitude, of the unprecedented divine initiative that precedes us and summons us. And the “yes” of faith marks the beginning of a radiant story of friendship with the Lord, which fills and gives full meaning to our whole life. But it is not enough for God that we simply accept his gratuitous love. Not only does he love us, but he wants to draw us to himself, to transform us in such a profound way as to bring us to say with Saint Paul: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (cf. Gal 2:20).
When we make room for the love of God, then we become like him, sharing in his own charity. If we open ourselves to his love, we allow him to live in us and to bring us to love with him, in him and like him; only then does our faith become truly “active through love” (Gal 5:6); only then does he abide in us (cf. 1 Jn 4:12).

-Pope Benedict XVI's Message for Lent, 2013 

Wednesday, February 6

Amy Welborn's Prove It Prayer



amy welborn

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of
 

Prove It: Prayer


I Don't Need to Pray...
Because God's In My Heart All the Time


Well, sure.
God is with you constantly, and has been since the moment you were a darling little-itty-bitty embryo:
Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
And God’s with you right now, as you’re reading this book. He’s with you at school. He’s with you on the practice field. He’s with you in the bathroom (eeeew…..but true!). He’s with you while you scarf down your nourishing breakfast of cola and corn chips (You think I’m kidding? I taught high school. I’ve seen it.)
God – is – with – you – every – second.
O Lord, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand. (Psalm 139:1)
Got it. Now answer a question for me. So what?
Why does God’s gracious presence with you somehow imply that you don’t have to do anything in response?
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re with your family at dinner. It’s one of Mom’s typically fabulous meals (and you do tell her it’s fabulous, at least every once in a while don’t you? She needs to hear it, and believe me, complimenting a meal racks up a whole lot of points that just might come in handy some day.)
Anyway, dinner is great, everyone’s there together, chattering away, until a moment comes when, deep in your Tuna Tortilla Surprise, you notice that silence has suddenly descended. You raise your eyes. You see everyone at the table, from Grandpa to the baby, staring at you. Waiting. For what?
“Well?” Dad asks. “What do you think?”
Of what? What do I think of what? You can’t help but wonder.
For you see, while you were certainly physically present in this room full of very real, very lively, very loud people, somehow, you hadn’t heard a word anyone was saying.
You were way too deep in meditation – about what, we won’t ask, because we really don’t want to know.
But the fact is, your physical presence didn’t guarantee - well, presence.
You were there, but you weren’t there. You weren’t listening, you weren’t relating to anyone, and you couldn’t tell us what color Grandpa’s tie was if we offered you a million dollars. (It was green with violet polka-dots, by the way. Retro, but nice.)
So there’s lesson number one: Presence doesn’t automatically mean relationship.
Now with God, of course, the problem is all on our side. God’s never inattentive, His focus never wanders, He never turns His back, not even for a second:
Even all the hairs on your head are counted. (Matthew 10:30)
But when it comes to us – well, we might like to talk big, like we’re some sort of deep mystics, constantly in touch with God, but let’s be honest.
That’s not exactly the case, is it?
After all, if it were true that we were incredibly aware of God all the time, our lives might be just a little bit different – in a word, we’d be saints. But we’re not. We live in a way that’s more like what a mystic named Meister Eckhart described centuries ago:
God is near to us, but we are far from him. God is within; we are without. God is at home; we are abroad. (Sermons 6, “The Kingdom of God is at Hand”)
So it’s a great, comforting truth that God is present with us all the time. But unless we consciously try to plug into that presence, we’re like we were at dinner that time: sitting there kind of pathetically, in our own private space, wondering what everyone else is talking about, alone even though we’re in a room full of people.
Think of it this way. It would be very nice for a dear friend to stand in front of you telling you how much he liked you. But what impact would that have on your life if you met his presence and his affection with nothing but the most cursory acknowledgment, day after day, never responding, never sharing, never even looking him in the eye? How would your friendship grow? Would you even have a friendship?
That’s exactly the way it is with us and God. God’s always present to us in love, but we must make a conscious effort to be present to Him, too, or else we don’t really have a relationship with Him.
That’s what prayer is.
Sure, there are lots of ways to do this thing called prayer: We do it with spoken words, we do it with songs or even silently. We do it alone, we do it with others. We use other people’s words, or we make up our own. We use the Bible to help us, or we use a sunset. We come to God in joy and praise. We come to thank Him and to beg Him for mercy. We turn to Him to ask for help for ourselves and others. We come to Him to find truth and meaning, and in the end, we’re coming to Him to find ourselves. Our true selves – way down underneath the worries and needs, the people that everyone on earth from our parents to friends to advertisers tells us that we should be – we know there is a true self, made for joy and peace. The only other One who knows this true self is the One who made it , and that’s God. The journey to that true self, the self we long for isn’t that long really. It’s just as long as the journey to God, and you know how far that is, right?
Any way you choose to do it, when you’re opening your heart, turning to God, talking to Him, listening and searching, what you’re doing at that moment is acknowledging God’s presence and responding to it.
That, in a nutshell, is prayer.
Here it is in another, slightly bigger and more brilliant nutshell, fashioned by a great pray-er, St. Therese of Lisieux:
For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.(Manuscrits autobiographiques, C 25r)
So for all of our rather arrogant claims that sure, we can have a great relationship with God without actually ever, well, taking time to develop a relationship, there’s really only one thing to say, and the person who said it is another great pray-er, St. Theresa of Avila:
We are always in the presence of God, yet it seems to me that those who pray are in His presence in a very different sense.
If you’ve ever known anyone who is authentically, truly prayerful, you’ll know what St. Theresa was talking about. There’s a peace and tranquility, a real goodness that shines through a person who’s really aware of God’s presence.
When you think about it, you just have to ask: Why wouldn’t everyone, given the choice (which we are) want to live that way?
You also have to ask yourself: Given the choice (which you are), why wouldn’t you want to live that way?

 Back to Main Prove It Page


Sunday, February 3

Amy Welborn on Evelyn Waugh

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

amy welborn





Note:This is another of those 540-word Liguorian pieces. Obviously, lots more could and should be said. Someday I'll do something a bit longer for OSV. For more Waugh information, see the links at the end.
Very few authors made the Modern Library's 1998 "100 Best Novels of All Time" more than twice: James Joyce, William Faulkner, Henry James, D.H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad and -- Evelyn Waugh.
Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) is usually remembered for brutally satirical novels that lay bare subjects as diverse as the shallow, rootless generation of wealthy young people drifting through English society between the two world wars (most notably in Vile Bodies); the American funeral industry, portrayed in The Loved One,; and journalism, featured in Scoop and A Handful of Dust,both featured on the "100 Best" list.
In Waugh's third title on the Modern Library list, Brideshead Revisited,all of his considerable literary gifts are on display: his satirical eye, a superb prose style, perfect dialogue. In addition, Brideshead reveals another element of Waugh's vision: his
Catholic faith, which he embraced as a convert in 1930.
Brideshead Revisited is the story of narrator Charles Ryder's long and complicated relationship with the Marchmains, and aristocratic Roman Catholic family. Their home, Brideshead, a sprawling estate built over centuries in a riot of styles, stands at the center of the tale. It symbolizes not only the diverse, conflicted family it houses, but also the family's Catholicism and their varied of ways of living it out.
While a student at Oxford, Charles meets Sebastian, the family's youngest son. Charles' intense friendship with Sebastian, an eccentric, charming, but obviously deeply pained yougn man, opens Charles' eyes to a world infinitely mroe itneresting and stimulating than anything his own family had ever offered.
Meeting Sebastian's family affects Charles even further. The time he spends at Brideshead helps him discern his vocation as an architectural artist, and his continuing exposure to the Marchmains' faith begins to challenge his closely held secular view of life.
But this faith turns out to be as complicated as the varied responses of the Marchmains to their Chruch and their God. Lad Marchmain's piety will not allow her to divorce her husband, even though Lord Marchmain never returned from the Continent after World War I, remaining in Italy, living with a mistress. Younger sister Cordelia's enthusiastic religiosity gifts her with an expansive, loving heart,unconstrained even toward her elder sister Julia, who marries a divorced man outside the Church.
Charles' increased intimacy with the Marchmains in turns affects the friendship between the two young men. There is something about his family that drives Sebastian to despair and a need to flee, from himself more than anything else. And flee Sebastian does -- into alcoholism and then to North Africa, where he spends the rest of his life.
But the intimacy Charles had with one member of the Marchmains is continued with another. Years after his initial acquaintance with the family, the married Charles begins an affair with Julia. It's in the context of this affair of Lord Marchmain's return to Brideshead to die that the crucial issues of the novel and of life itself are brought to painful climax. We may run from God with all our strength, it seems, but in the end, God patiently waits nonethless.
Amy Welborn
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Saturday, February 2

Amy Welborn in Catholic Exchange

The Catholic web portal Catholic Exchange recently reprinted one of my old blog posts about a trip taken to Saltillo, Mexico:

You can find it here.

The visit was part of a day trip to the city from General Cepeda, Mexico, where our family was part of a parish mission team, serving with Catholic Family Missions.  It occurred in the summer of 2010.

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