Friday, July 26

Amy Welborn on GoodReads

You can follow Amy Welborn on Goodreads here:

What is Goodreads?

What Is Goodreads?
Goodreads is the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world. We have more than 14,000,000 members who have added more than 460,000,000 books to their shelves. A home for casual readers and bona-fide bookworms alike, Goodreads users recommend books, compare what they are reading, keep track of what they've read and would like to read, find their next favorite book, form book clubs and much more. Goodreads was launched in January 2007. 

How We Do It
Most book recommendation websites work by listing random people’s reviews. On Goodreads, when a person adds a book to the site, all their friends can see what they thought of it. It’s common sense. People are more likely to get excited about a book their friend recommends than a suggestion from a stranger. We even created an amazing algorithm that looks at your books and ratings, and helps you find other books based on what fellow Goodreads members with similar tastes enjoyed. Ultimately, it’s all based on our foundation of true-blue readers. Our members also create trivia about books, lists of the best books, post their own writing and form groups and book clubs. 

Thursday, July 25

Dappled Things Interview

An interview in the "Pentecost 2012" edition of Dappled Things about Wish You Were Here.

DS: Something I personally enjoyed about the book is that it’s not presented as a neat, orderly journey through the stages of grieving—it reads as a much more honest account of how you and your children dealt with such a tremendous loss. When you look back upon those first few months, does it seem like there was a “process” you went through emotionally?AW: Well, it’s not neat, is it? Nothing about it is neat or orderly, and that’s one of the reasons I like one particular word in the subtitle: “through.” It’s not to hope from loss. It’s through them —and you thread back and forth through them all the time. In those first months, I don’t know if I could call what happened a “process.” It’s the result of life moving on and some discipline in your thoughts, emotions, and spiritual life. Time passes, and that does its work. But it doesn’t do all the work, and being able to get up every day and try to work towards peace isn’t automatic. I could only do it—process it—by placing every moment in a spiritual context. In the context of Passion and Resurrection, and the suffering, loss and limitations that are part of the human condition on earth and were taken up in Christ.

Wednesday, July 24

Interview with Amy Welborn

From the Word on Fire website:

Amy Welborn

Last week, we released our anticipated CATHOLICISM companion study program for middle and high schoolers — The CATHOLICISM Pilgrimage Journal. The program encourages cross-generational conversation and faith sharing between adults and their students or children, all the while moving everyone closer to Christ. Presenting the material in an engaging, compelling and digestible way, author and blogger Amy Welborn tackled the writing of the Journal, which is has benefited greatly from her knowledge, understanding of and enthusiasm for CATHOLICISM the series and Catholicism the faith. We asked Amy some questions about working on the Pilgrimage Journal, and today we share her thoughtful answers with you.

For the interview, go here. 

Tuesday, July 23

Amy Welborn Interview

Here is the link to both parts of the email interview conducted with the Catholic Match website. 

The story about the electrician in your epilogue gave me goose bumps. (I’ll leave it at that and urge readers to buy Wish You Were Here to get the whole story.) Have you experienced other moments of serendipity like that one, instances that seem orchestrated by the Holy Spirit?

I experienced several, and they are all in the book.

Absolutely. I do think that these hints – and sometimes more – of God’s presence are everywhere, and in the midst of an experience like a death, our spiritual senses are on high alert – I know mine were – simply because we are looking, looking, looking for one who is not there and for the reasons, and so we are more aware of them.

Sunday, July 21

Know a new Catholic?

Catholic Bible Study on the Parables

Amy Welborn

Through the Bible parables, Jesus reveals who he is and how we are to follow him. Learn how to relate the parables of Jesus to life today in Parables: Stories of the Kingdom.

It is a part of Loyola Press' Six Weeks With the Bible series, which provides individuals or groups plans for concise but thorough 90-minute sessions to learn about and discuss the pertinent Scriptural passages.  General guides for how to effectively lead an adult education session are also included.  The series is available in paperback and also in Kindle versions.  

Wednesday, July 17

New Book by Amy Welborn

"Amy Welborn"

To be published in August, but a Christmas book - which means you have plenty of time to take a look at it!

The Amazon page describes the book as being for 7-10 year olds, but really it's a picture book geared at 5-8 year olds.

The idea came from illustrator Ann Kissane Engelhart - she wanted to craft a story around the tradition of children bringing their baminelli - Baby Jesus figures - to be blessed by the Pope on the 3rd Sunday of Advent.  And so here it is!

The Amazon page for the book is here.  From the publisher's description:

Alessandro is staying with his grandparents, who run a small shop that sells figures for the presepe (Nativity scene), while his parents look for work in another country. To help with the boy’s loneliness, his grandfather encourages Alessandro to make his own figure of the baby Jesus. They will bring that figure to Rome in two weeks to have it blessed by the Holy Father on Bambinelli Sunday. Through the events that occur in the time leading up to receiving the blessing in St. Peter's Square, Alessandro comes to see his world in a new way, and receives the best surprise of all in the end.

This book for children ages 7-10 tells a wonderful story about sharing, comfort, generosity, and forgiveness through the lens of a long-standing Italian tradition. The beautiful illustrations and timeless story make this a treasure Advent and Christmas resource for generations to come.

Monday, July 15

Amy Welborn on Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor photo

Here's a link to an article I wrote about my literary hero years ago. 

An excerpt:

You could be forgiven if you begin to suspect at some point during your search for Flannery O’Connor’s grave that, at an incautious moment, you have somehow slipped right into the middle of a Flannery O’Connor story. 

After all, so far in this small town of Milledgeville, Georgia, about 35 miles east of Macon, you have passed a youth prison and a state mental hospital, homes to hundreds of troubled, unusual characters. You are surrounded by the plain fact of the south, from the ghostly, castle-like remains of the first state capital to the sight of an African-American UPS man emerging from the “Strictly Southern Heritage Gallery and Gift Shop,” a downtown business packed with Confederate memorabilia, including flags and bikinis made from flags. The store, a sign notes, is closed "Sundays and Southern holidays."

And when you finally reach it – kindly hauled in the caretaker’s rundown pickup truck on the suffocating summer day from one end of the cemetery, where you thought she might be, to the other end, where she is – you stand there, next to a stranger. "They still don’t want to claim her, do they," he comments wryly, reflecting on the complete lack of any directions to the grave of one of the 20th century’s most revered and intensely discussed writers, laid ot rest here 35 years ago last August. You nod in agreement and wonder who placed the broken plastic olive-colored Madonna above the name on the flat marble slab. And if you are finally conscious now of your place in the O’Connor universe, you will know to brace yourself; for any moment, grace may strike –and, no question, it will hurt. 

Diary of a Country Priest

Note:This piece is one of a series on great Catholic fiction writers that I penned for Ligourian Magazine several years ago. My word count limit was - get this - 540 words. Unbelievable. Well, it was good money for the number of words,I'll say that. So if you're annoyed by the brevity of this piece, at least you know why it's so short now. Of course, there is much more to say on this book, as well as the very interesting life of Bernanos himself.

In the late 19th and early 20th century a philosophical perspective called positivism ruled the intellectual climate in France. Positivists like Emile Durkheim and Auguste Comte claimed that all one can know about human life is what can be observed and that the laws of behavior and society discerned from these observations should be used to organize human life.
Into this scientifically-based and utterly materialistic mileu stepped, one by one over the decades before and just after the First World War, a group of writers who formed what we now call the French Catholic Literary Revival. Francois Mauriac, Charles Peguy, Julien Green and Leon Bloy rejected positivism and reclaimed a vision of human beings essentially defined, not by scientific law, but rather by our relation to God and struggle with evil. One of the finest writers of this group was George Bernanos, author of Diary of a Country Priest.

Diary of a Country Priest, first published in 1936, is just what the title suggests: the fictional journal of a young curate in rural France. The premise may seem simple, but in Bernanos’ hands it emerges as a rich work in which the reader encounters the injustices of French society, the emptiness of an intellectual system that rejects God, the failure of the Church to fully embody Christ’s love for the poor, and above all, the power of a life dedicated to God.

The young priest whose life absorbs us in this novel has come from a background of poverty through seminary into this, his first parish experience, to which he is utterly dedicated. Besides conducting his sacramental duties, he commits himself to visit every family in his parish. He teaches catechism classes and attempts to organize a club for young men. He visits the sick, buries the dead, lives at a substistence level and is bedeviled by a serious illness that is ultimately diagnosed as stomach cancer, but not before it is mistaken for alchoholism by gossipy villagers.

Aside from these daily ministrations and struggles, Bernanos offers us his view of French church and society through the conversations the priest has with a variety of people, ranging from the atheist physician Delbende, the troubled child Seraphita who spreads rumors about the young priest at every opportunity, the more relaxed older priest de Torcy and most powerfully the deeply wounded local countess, who harbors bitter anger at God for death of her son.

What makes Diary of a Country Priest a novel that is read just as much for its spiritual value as well as its literary quality lies in the complex, realistic life of faith Bernanos constructs for his main character, a faith which stumbles in darkness at times, but is on the whole fervent, selfless and Christlike, even in the hostile reactions it sometimes evokes.

The final touch that heightens the personal drama in the priest’s soul is that he believes himself, if not a total failure, at the very least a terribly poor instrument of God’s grace. But what the reader discerns through the unaffected words is that even as he cannot see it himself, the effect of his witness and suffering on others is profound and powerfully embodies the words he speaks on his own deathbed: “Grace is everywhere…”

Sunday, July 14

Catholic Bible Study

Amy Welborn

Matthew 26-28: Jesus' life-giving death offers a close look at the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Matthew's Gospel. 

It is a part of Loyola Press' Six Weeks With the Bible series, which provides individuals or groups plans for concise but thorough 90-minute sessions to learn about and discuss the pertinent Scriptural passages.  General guides for how to effectively lead an adult education session are also included.  The series is available in paperback and also in Kindle versions.  

Friday, July 12

Amy Welborn on Facebook

If you would like to follow Amy Welborn's current blog, Charlotte was Both, on Facebook, click here. 

amy welborn It is not often that someone comes along who is both a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.
(E. B. White, the conclusion of Charlotte's Web.)

Monday, July 8

Mary and the Rosary

Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

Saturday, July 6

Shusaku Endo

amy welborn
Shusaku Endo

Note:This is another super-short piece originally published in Liguorian in the late 1990's. Once again, in my own defense, I'll say they picked the word length (540 words!), not me.
St. Francis Xavier brought Christianity to Japan in 1549. Sixty years later, while there may have been an estimated 300,000 Christians in Japan, the apparent success of the Church’s mission was about to come to an end.
The shogun who had reunited Japan after years of civil war had grown suspicious that the foreign missionaries were paving the way for conquering powers. In 1614 missionaries were expelled from the country and Japanese Christians were presented with a choice: either apostasize or be brutally killed.
The terrible persecution of Christians in Japan in the early seventeenth century produced thousands of martyrs, a fascinating underground hybrid church called Kakuro which survived hundreds of years in secret, and an enduringly ambiguous relationship between Japanese culture and Catholicism.
Shusaku Endo (1923-1996) used these themes in his many novels and short stories. Endo, baptized at the age of eleven because his mother had turned to the faith in the wake of personal difficulties, described his Catholicism as “a kind of ready-made suit…I had to decide either to make this ready-made suit fit my body or get rid of it and find another suit that fitted…”
As a Christian child in Japan, Endo was taunted by his peers for his religion. As a student come to France after World War II to study Catholic novelists, his faith was irrelevant to those who may have shared it, but who deplored him nonetheless because he was Japanese. It seemed, at that point, that it would have to be the suit that changed – it brought him nothing but suffering.
But on the way back to Japan from Europe, Endo visited Palestine. In walking where Jesus himself had, he came to understand that the Christianity he had known was incomplete, for it had never revealed to him the Jesus who had lived, suffered and died for the outcast. It was this Jesus, he realized, who could reach beyond culture and connect with the Japanese soul.
In his great novel, Silence, Endo uses the background of persecution to contemplate these knotty questions. He gives us the story of a young Portuguese priest named Sebastian Rodrigues who travels to Japan from Macao to confirm the impossible news that his mentor, Father Christovao Ferreira has apostasized.
Rodrigues arrives in Japan, his trusting faith nourished by the memory of a treasured face of Christ, full of “vigor and strength,” an image that expresses the certainty of God’s presence in his mission.
But events quickly turn. Rodrigues is disturbed by the simplistic faith he finds among peasant converts and stunned by the brutality of suffering they endure when discovered by their persecutors. As he attempts to make his way to Nagasaki, avoiding the authorities, alternately guided and betrayed by a Judas-like figure named Kichijiro, his questions mount, and where once he had found certainty, he increasingly hears only silence.
God’s silence continues when Rodrigues is captured. He can hear nothing but his own crashing spirit and the cries of his suffering fellow prisoners, cries he is assured he can bring a stop to by a simple external act, one that he discovers beyond doubt his mentor had, indeed taken: he can apostasize by trampling on a fumie, an image of Christ, no longer serenely triumphant, but “ugly…worn down and hollow..”
And does the silence break? I must leave you to open the pages of this moving, provocative novel to answer that question for yourself.
-Amy Welborn


Wednesday, July 3

Amy Welborn on Mary: Free e-book

Remember - you can download a free e-book about the Blessed Virgin Mary here.

It's Mary and the Christian Life, a book I wrote for Word Among Us Press, but is now out of print. It has been reformatted, and you can download it as a .pdf - as well as read reviews of the book and see a table of contents - here

"amy welborn"

Monday, July 1

Amy Welborn on Mary

Remember - you can download a free e-book about the Blessed Virgin Mary here.

It's Mary and the Christian Life, a book I wrote for Word Among Us Press, but is now out of print. It has been reformatted, and you can download it as a .pdf - as well as read reviews of the book and see a table of contents - here

"amy welborn"


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