Wednesday, July 19

All about Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene's feast is July 22. Over the next several days, enjoy these excerpts from Amy Welborn's De-Coding Mary Magdalene. 

Feel free to use this in any way you like - even copy the pdf to use in a parish study or discussion group in the upcoming year.  There are discussion/reflection questions at the end of each chapter. So.

Chapter 1:
No, the Gospels are not straight history or biography in the contemporary sense. They are testaments of faith. But they are testaments of faith rooted in what really happened. The evangelists, and by extension, the early Christians, were not about making up stories for which they would later, oddly, give their lives. They were not cleverly presenting their inner psychological transformations in the form of concrete stories. They were witnesses to the amazing action of God in history, through Jesus. amy-welborn-book3They are testimonies of faith, yes, but faith rooted in the realities of God’s movement in the world.
The evidence seems, at first glance, frustratingly slim: an introduction in Luke, and then Mary’s presence at the cross and at the empty tomb mentioned in all four amy-welborn-book2Gospels. Not much to go on, it seems.
Before the legends, myths, and speculation, and even before the best-selling novels, there was something else: the Gospels.
The figure of Mary Magdalene has inspired a wealth of art, devotion, and charitable works throughout Christian history, but if we want to really understand her, we have to open the Gospels, because all we really know for sure is right there.
But in the context, the situation isn’t as bad as it appears. After all, no one besides Jesus is described in any detail in the Gospels, and even the portrait of Jesus, as evocative as it is, omits details that we moderns are programmed to think are important. Perhaps, given the context, the Gospels tell us more about Mary Magdalene than we think.

Trustworthy?

Before we actually meet the Mary Magdalene of the Gospels, it might be a good idea to remind ourselves of exactly what the Gospels are and how to read them.
The word “Gospel” means, of course, “good news,” or evangel in Greek, which is why we call the writers of the Gospels evangelists. The four Gospels in the New Testament have been accepted as the most authoritative and accurate writings on Jesus’ life since the early second century. Even today, scholars who study early  Christianity, whether they are believers or not, know that when studying Jesus and the early Christian movement, the Gospels and other New Testament writings are the place to begin.
Sometimes in my speaking on this issue, I have fielded questions about the reliability of the Gospels. A questioner will say something like, “Well, they were written so long after the events, how can we trust them to tell the truth?”
In addition, even those of us who have received some sort of religious education might have been taught, implicitly, to be skeptical of the Gospels. We’re reminded, right off, that the Gospels are not history or biography, and that they tell us far more about the community that produced them than about Jesus himself.
In short, all of this gets distilled into the conviction that when it comes to early Christianity, all documents and texts are of equal value in telling us about Jesus. You can’t pick the best according to historical reliability, so you pick the one with the “story” that means the most to you. So, if the Gospel of Mark displeases you, you can go ahead and create your Jesus from what you read in the Gospelof Philip or the Pistis Sophia.
Sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way. As we will see in more detail when we get to the Gnostic writings, there is simply no comparison between the four canonical Gospels and other writ-ings. The canonical Gospels were not written that distant from the events described — forty or fifty years — and were written in an oral culture that took great care to preserve what it heard with care; the community’s history depended on it. When you actually read the Gospels, you see comments here and there from the evangel-ists themselves about what they were trying to do, and part of that involved, according to their own admission, being as accurate as possible (see Luke 1:1-4, for example).
It’s also good to listen to modern Gospel critics carefully. More often than not, those who disdain the Gospels are quick to claim some other text as “gospel,” as the source of truth. Their choice of what to believe usually has far less to do with historical reliability than it does with other factors.
So, no, not all historical texts are equally reliable. When it comes to Jesus and the events of the mid-first century, the canonical Gospels are really the only place to begin.
Now, on to Mary Magdalene.

Magdala

Luke introduces us to Mary Magdalene in chapter 8 of his Gospel:

“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preach-ing and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,and Joanna,the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” (Luke 8:1-3)
So here she is: a woman from whom Jesus had driven seven demons, joined with other women, also healed by Jesus, who had left their lives behind to follow him.
Mary is mentioned first in this list, as she is in every list of female disciples, in every Gospel, similar to the way that in lists of the twelve apostles Peter’s name always comes first. The precise reason for Mary’s consistent preeminence is impossible to determine, but we can guess that it might have much to do with her important role related to the Resurrection, as well as to recognition of her faithfulness to Jesus.
These women “provided for them out of their means.” This might mean one of two things, or both: that the women assisted Jesus and his disciples by preparing meals and so on, or that they supported them financially. The second explanation is supported by the presence of Joanna, the wife of a member of Herod’s court, on the list. Perhaps some of these women were, indeed, wealthy enough to give Jesus’ ministry a financial base. (Some legends about Mary have played off of this, as we will see later, suggesting that she was quite wealthy and actually owned the town of Magdala.)
What stands out about Mary is that she’s identified, not by her relationship to a man, as most women would be at that time, but to a town. This indicates that Mary wasn’t married, and perhaps even that she had outlived her father and other male relatives: she was a single woman, able to give support to Jesus out of gratitude for what he had done for her.
Magdala was located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, about four miles north of the major city of Tiberias. Today, it is a village with a few hundred inhabitants, some abandoned archaeological digs, and only the most inconspicuous memorials to its most well-known inhabitant.
“Magdala” is derived from the Hebrew Migdal, which means “fortress” or “tower.” It was also called “Tarichea,” which means “salted fish,” a name which reveals the town’s primary industry during the first century, the salting and pickling of fish. Excavations led by Franciscans in the 1970s revealed a structure that some think was a synagogue (others a springhouse), as well as a couple of large villas and, from later centuries, what might be a Byzan-tine monastery. Magdala is described by Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, as having forty thousand inhabitants, six thou-sand of whom were killed in one of the battles during the Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70), but most modern historians believe those numbers are far too high.
Jewish tradition suggests that Magdala was ultimately destroyed as a punishment for prostitution, and another strain holds that in ancient times Job’s daughters died there. Pilgrim accounts from the ninth through the thirteenth centuries report the existence of a church in Magdala, supposedly built in the fourth century by St. Helena, who discovered the True Cross in Jerusalem.
By the seventeenth century, pilgrims reported nothing but ruins at Magdala.

Possessed

Mary — like Peter, Andrew, and the other apostles — walked away from life as she knew it, abandoned everything to follow Jesus. Why?
“. . . from whom seven demons had gone out.”
Exorcism is an aspect of Jesus’ ministry that many of us either forget about or ignore, but the Gospels make clear how important it is: Mark, in fact, describes an exorcism as Jesus’ first mighty deed, in the midst of his preaching (1:25). Some modern com-mentators might declare that what the ancients referred to as pos-session was nothing more than mental illness, but there is really no reason to assume that is true. The “demons,” or unclean or evil spirits, we see mentioned sixty-three times in the Gospels were understood as forces that indeed possessed people, inhabiting them, bringing on what we would describe as mental problems, emotional disturbances, and even physical illness. The symptoms, however, were, to the ancient mind, only that: symptoms. The deeper problem was the alienation from the rest of the human family and from God produced by this mysterious force of evil.
In the world in which Jesus lived, seven was a number that symbolized completion, from the seven days of creation (Genesis 1:1-2:3) to the seven seals on God’s book in Revelation (5:1) and the seven horns and eyes of the Lamb in the same vision (5:6). Mary’s possession by seven demons (also explicitly mentioned in Mark 16:9) indicates to us that her possession was serious and overwhelming — total, in fact. She was wholly in the grip of these evil spirits, and Jesus freed her — totally.
So of course, she left everything and followed him.
It’s worth noting now, even though we’ll discuss it more later, that nowhere in the New Testament is the condition of possession synonymous with sinfulness. The “sinners” in the Gospels — the tax collectors, those who cannot or will not observe the Law, the prostitutes — are clearly distinguished from those possessed. Some Christian thinkers have linked Mary Magdalene to various sinful, unnamed women in the Gospels because of her identification as formerly possessed. There may be reasons, indeed, to link Mary to these women, but possession is not one of them, because the conditions — possession and sinfulness — are not the same thing in the minds of the evangelists.

Disciple

The evangelists used the texts, memories, and oral traditions they had at hand to communicate the Good News about Jesus. Because they were human beings, their writing and editing bears the stamp of their unique concerns and interests. Just as you and a spouse might tell the same story, emphasizing different aspects of it to make different points — perhaps you want to tell the story of your missed flight as a warning about being organized and prepared, and he wants to tell it as a way to highlight the need to go with the flow — the evangelists shaped the fundamental story of Jesus in accord with what struck them as the most significant points of his life and ministry, what their audiences most needed to hear.
In the eighth chapter of his Gospel, Luke has finished introducing Jesus, and is ready to really help his audience understand what being a disciple means. He begins by describing who is following Jesus — the Twelve and the women — and then offers a general description of what Jesus’ ministry is about. Jesus then tells his first parable (the parable of the sower and the seeds, which is the first parable Jesus relates in all of the Gospels), then quickly calms a storm, performs another dramatic exorcism, raises a little girl back to life, and in the midst of it tells his followers, firmly, that his blood relations are not his family, but rather those who “hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21).
So that’s the context of the introduction of Mary Magdalene and the other women — not just to set the stage, to complete the cast of characters, because Luke, like all of the other evangelists, didn’t have vellum to spare to do such a thing. Every word he wrote had a purpose, and it was very focused — here, to set before us, in quick, strong strokes, what this kingdom of God was all about. What do we learn from the presence of the women?
First, we learn that women are present, period. Women were not chattel slaves in first-century Judaism, by any means, but neither were they often, if ever, seen leaving their ordinary lives to follow a rabbi. In fact, scholar Ben Witherington describes this conduct as “scandalous” in the cultural context (Women in the Ministry of Jesus [Cambridge University Press, 1984]):
“We know women were allowed to hear the word of God in the synagogue but they were never disciples of a rabbi unless their husband or master was a rabbi willing to teach them.Though a woman might be taught certain negative precepts of the Law out of necessity,this did not mean they would be taught rabbinic explanations of Torah. For a Jewish woman to leave home and travel with a rabbi was not only unheard of, it was scandalous. Even more scandalous was the fact that women, both respectable and not, were among Jesus’ traveling companions.” (Witherington, p. 117)
And not just any women, either. As we noted earlier, Mary Magdalene was once possessed by seven demons. In this culture, those possessed were ostracized — one man Jesus exorcised is described as living in a cemetery (Luke 8:27). Mary Magdalene, formerly at the margins of society, has been transformed by Jesus and is now welcomed as a disciple. The barriers of class, too, are broken, Luke hints, with the presence of Joanna, the wife of a per-son of stature. In God’s kingdom, Luke makes clear, the world we know is being turned upside down.
Just as every phrase and scene in the Gospels is carefully chosen under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so are the parts of the Gospel related. We meet Mary Magdalene here, but we will not see her again for many chapters — until the Passion narrative begins. But when we do encounter her — again, with the other women — here’s what she will be doing: she will be standing near the cross, she will then be preparing Jesus’ body for burial, and later she will see and witness to the empty tomb, and encounter the risen Jesus.
Mary will be serving, still. She serves, watches, and waits, the only remaining link between Jesus’ Galilean ministry, his Passion, and the Resurrection. She is introduced as a grateful, faithful dis-ciple, and that she will remain, a witness to the life Jesus brings.

Already, there’s a sort of mystery: what were these demons? What exactly happened to Mary? The evangelists don’t tell us, perhaps because they and Mary herself knew that life with Jesus is not about looking back into the past, but rather rejoicing in God’s power to transform our lives in the present.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What do we know about Mary Magdalene’s life from the Gospels?
  1. What does her presence in Jesus’ ministry tell you about the kingdom of God that Jesus preached?
  2.   How has God acted in your life with power? How do you respond to that? How would you like to respond?

Tuesday, July 18

Teaching Teens about Jesus

Prove It: Jesus by Amy Welborn

amy welbornI’ve Always Wondered….
  1. …Is What the Gospels Say About Jesus True?
  2. …What Are the Basic Facts About Jesus?
  3. …What Did Jesus Really Teach?
  4. …Did Jesus Really Perform Miracles?
  5. …Why Was Jesus Executed?
  6. …Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
  7. …When Is Jesus Going to Come Again?
  8. …Was Jesus Really God?
  9. …How Could Jesus Be Both God and Human?
  10. …Why Did Jesus Come at All, and What Does It Mean for Me Today?
Excerpt from Prove It: Jesus

A resource for teen catechesis and Catholic youth ministry

Monday, July 17

Psalms for Children



A Child's Book of Psalms  by Amy Welborn is a hardcover introduction to the Psalms.  It includes many of the Psalms themselves, and an introduction - written by me - explaining what the Psalms are and how they have been prayed by Jewish and Christian people over the centuries, and still are today.

(Illustrated selections from 22 of the Bible s best-loved Psalms. Author Amy Welborn explains the history, background, and types of Psalms in an introduction and two supplemental chapters. Includes a map and visual history of the Holy Land from Abraham through Solomon. Author: Amy Welborn Format: 61 pages, Hardcover Publisher: C. D. Stampley Enterprises (September 2007))

Sunday, July 16

Catholic Prayers

The Words We Pray by Amy Welborn is a collection of short essays that reflect on the meaning of traditional Catholic prayers, tying together history, theology, spirituality, and personal devotion.

Read more about it here.
The monks raised their voices in hope at the end of each phrase, and then paused a great pause in between, letting the hope rise and then settle back into their hearts. My own heart rushed, unbidden by me, uncontrolled, right into those pauses and joined the prayer. A prayer written by a eleventh-century bedridden brother, chanted by monks in the middle of Georgia, and joined by me and the silent folk scattered in the pews around me, each with his or her own reasons to beg the Virgin for her prayers.
And we weren’t the only ones joined in that prayer. With us was a great throng of other Christians who had prayed it over the centuries, and who are praying it at this very moment.
My days as a prayer snob were over.

It would be a great resource for inquirers into the Catholic faith.  

Friday, July 14

St. Kateri for Kids - July 14

Lots of interesting saints coming up this week (well…there are always interesting saints coming up in our calendar, aren’t there?), among them Camillus de Lellis on July 14.
I wrote about him in The Loyola Kids’ Book of SaintsLoyola didn’t choose to excerpt from my book for the entry for their “Saints Stories for Kids” webpage, but you can read most of it at Google Books, here:
camillus de lellis
(Kateri Tekakwitha, whom we also remember on July 14, is also in the Loyola Kids Book of Saints, but the available excerpt on Google Books is pretty minimal, so…..)

The Loyola Kids' Book of Saints by Amy Welborn

 Over 40 saints' lives,written at a middle-school reading level.

I. Saints are People Who Love Children St. Nicholas,St. John Bosco, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla
  Amy WelbornSaints Are People Who Love Their Families St. Monica,St. Cyril and St. Methodius, St. Therese of Lisieux,Blessed Frederic Ozanam,

Saints Are People Who Surprise OthersSt. Simeon Stylites,St. Celestine V,St. Joan of Arc,St. Catherine of Siena

Saints Are People Who Create St. Hildegard of Bingen,Blessed Fra Angelico,St. John of the Cross,Blessed Miguel Pro

Saints Are People Who Teach Us New Ways to Pray St. Benedict,St. Dominic de Guzman,St. Teresa of Avila,St. Louis de Monfort

Saints Are People Who See Beyond the Everyday St. Juan Diego, St. Frances of Rome, St. Bernadette Soubirous, Blessed Padre Pio

Saints Are People Who Travel From Home St. Boniface, St. Peter Claver, St. Francis Xavier, St. Francis Solano, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini

Saints Are People Who Are Strong Leaders St. Helena, St. Leo the Great, St. Wenceslaus, St. John Neumann

Saints Are People Who Tell The Truth St. Polycarp, St. Thomas Becket, St. Thomas More, Blessed Titus Brandsma

Saints Are People Who Help Us Understand God St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Jerome, St. Patrick, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Edith Stein

Saints Are People Who Change Their Lives for God St. Ambrose, St. Gregory the Great, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Camillus de Lellis, St. Katharine Drexel

Saints Are People Who Are Brave St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, St. George, St. Margaret Clitherow, St. Isaac Jogues, The Carmelite Nuns of Compiegne, St. Maximilian Kolbe

Saints Are People Who Help the Poor and Sick St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Martin de Porres, Blessed Joseph de Veuster

Saints Are People Who Help In Ordinary Ways St. Christopher, St. Blaise, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bernard of Montjoux

Saints Are People Who Come From All Over the World Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Paul Miki, Blessed Peter To Rot, Blessed Maria Clementine Anuarite Nengapeta

Buy this at Aquinas and More Catholic Goods
Barnes and Noble
AmazonKateri Tekakwitha - July 14

Thursday, July 13

Summer Reading For Catholic Children

The Loyola Kids Book of Heroes by Amy Welborn

 More saints' lives, organized according to the virtues they expressed through their lives.amy welborn

I. Faith
  1. Introduction: Jesus is Born
  2. John the Baptist: A Hero Prepares the Way
  3. Early Christian Martyrs: Heroes are Faithful Friends
  4. Medieval Mystery Plays: Heroes Make the Bible Come to Life
  5. St. Albert the Great: Heroes Study God’s Creation
  6. Sister Blandina Segale: Heroes Work in Faith
II. Hope
  1. Introduction: Jesus Teaches
  2. Pentecost: Heroes on Fire with Hope
  3. Paul: A Hero Changes and Finds Hope
  4. St. Patrick and St. Columba: Heroes Bring Hope into Darkness
  5. St. Jane de Chantal: Heroes Hope through Loss
  6. St. Mary Faustina Kowalska: A Hero Finds Hope in Mercy
Charity
  1. Introduction: Jesus Works Miracles
  2. Peter and John: Heroes are Known by their Love
  3. St. Genevieve: A City is Saved by a Hero’s Charity
  4. St. Meinrad and St. Edmund Campion: Heroes love their Enemies
  5. Venerable Pierre Toussaint: A Hero Lives a Life of Charity
  6. Rose Hawthorne Lathrop: A Hero Cares for Those Who Need it Most
  7. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: A Hero Lives Charity with the Dying
Temperance
  1. Introduction: Jesus Strikes a Balance
  2. Peter and Cornelius: Heroes Love Their Neighbors
  3. Charlemagne and Alcuin: Heroes Use their Talents for Good
  4. St. Francis: A Hero Appreciates Creation
  5. Venerable Matt Talbot: Heroes Can Let Go
  6. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati: A Hero Enjoys the Gift of Life
Prudence
  1. Introduction: Jesus Gives Us Leaders to Help us Make Good Choices
  2. Paul and Barnabas at Lystra: Heroes See the Good in All Things
  3. St. Jean de Brebeuf: A Hero Respects Others
  4. Catherine Doherty and Jean Vanier: Heroes Bring New Ideas
  5. Venerable Solanus Casey: A Hero Accepts His Life
  6. Blessed John XXIII: A Hero Finds a New Way

Wednesday, July 12

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.

Tuesday, July 11

St. Benedict for Kids

Benedict4Today, we celebrate a great, fascinating saint. First entry today will be alerting to you what I've written about him for children. 
He's in The Loyola Kids Book of Saints by Amy Welborn under "Saints are people who teach us new ways to pray." Here are some excerpts - click on images to get a fuller view.
BenedictI

Monday, July 10

Silence by Shusaku Endo


Silence
amy welborn
by
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


Google

Sunday, July 9

Catholic Parish Bible Study

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 by Amy Welborn.

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

Saturday, July 8

Amy Welborn Interview on Mary Magdalene


IgnatiusInsight.com: What do we know about Mary Magdalene and what are our sources for our knowledge of her?
Welborn: Our primary sources for knowledge of Mary Magdalene are in the Gospels. From them, in Luke 8, we learn that Mary of Magdala (a small town on the Sea of Galilee) had been exorcised of seven demons by Jesus, and left everything behind in gratitude to follow him, along with some other women, and provide for the disciples' needs. This could be doing domestic work for them, providing funds to support the ministry, or both.
We then see Mary, in every gospel, at the Cross, then as the first to discover the Empty Tomb.
There is an enormous amount of legendary material about Mary Magdalene in both West and East. It's fascinating and rich. One of the primary strains in the West has her traveling to Provence (an idea picked up by the radical feminist author of The Woman With the Alabaster Jar, Margaret Starbird, and then turned for her own ends) and, along with Martha and Lazarus, evangelizing the area; there is even some medieval art that depicts Mary preaching and baptizing. She was a favorite subject for medieval mystery plays and, of course, art.
But what we know for sure about her is contained in the Gospels.

Friday, July 7

Blessed Peter To Rot July 7


peter_to_rot_stamp_2

Blessed Peter To Rot is celebrated today, July 7.

Here is a good version of his life:
One of the patron saints of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia, was Bl. Peter To Rot, a native son of Papua New Guinea. A second-generation Catholic during the evangelization of his Southern Pacific island in the early twentieth century, Peter was an exemplary husband, father, and catechist. In 1945 he suffered martyrdom at the hands of Japanese soldiers for his courageous defense of Christian marriage...
He is in The Loyola Kids Book of Saints  by Amy Welborn.



Thursday, July 6

Catholic Prayers

The Words We Pray by Amy Welborn is a collection of short essays that reflect on the meaning of traditional Catholic prayers, tying together history, theology, spirituality, and personal devotion.

Read more about it here.
The monks raised their voices in hope at the end of each phrase, and then paused a great pause in between, letting the hope rise and then settle back into their hearts. My own heart rushed, unbidden by me, uncontrolled, right into those pauses and joined the prayer. A prayer written by a eleventh-century bedridden brother, chanted by monks in the middle of Georgia, and joined by me and the silent folk scattered in the pews around me, each with his or her own reasons to beg the Virgin for her prayers.
And we weren’t the only ones joined in that prayer. With us was a great throng of other Christians who had prayed it over the centuries, and who are praying it at this very moment.
My days as a prayer snob were over.

It would be a great resource for inquirers into the Catholic faith.  

Tuesday, July 4

Amy Welborn in Living Faith

Amy Welborn is a contributor - five devotions per issue -  to the Living Faith daily devotional quarterly.

For example, today, July 4:

One of the greatest obstacles in my writing life is the specter of the big picture. A project is so great, my abilities so inadequate, I think, so why even start?

More



 July 3:

I live in a part of the country in which college football is...big! During the fall, entering and exiting stores, people who are strangers recognize their common bond and really do say, in passing, "Roll, Tide!" At the grocery checkout, class, ethnic and gender divisions disappear as deeply felt and informed predictions are made about next week or postmortems are offered on last week's matchups. I've experienced this surrounding college football. You may know of it from soccer or baseball in your community.

More 

June 25:

The little girl in the after-school tutoring program was confounded by the crossword puzzle. And so were the two adults trying to help.
None of us could make any sense of it. After almost a half an hour of frustration, I told the very patient child that she could do something else. She asked to play a game with me. The program's rule was that a book should be read first, but considering the torture of the previous half-hour, I bent that rule.





 June 2:

My youngest son is an animal fanatic, so we watch a lot of nature documentaries. It is amazing because it seems as if there is no end to the mysteries and fascinating, quirky elements of nature.
For example, the other day, we learned about the California ground squirrel. It protects itself and its family against rattlesnake predators by chewing snake skins to shreds and rubbing them on its fur. Presto! It no longer smells like breakfast, but instead like a fellow snake.
I watch this and I'm amazed, once again, by the mystery and wonder of God's creation.
More

, May 7:

In the heat of summer, we headed to a large swimming hole. One of the ways you could reach the water was by jumping off a steep, cliff like bank.

For a time, we watched as one young woman stood on the edge, contemplating a jump. Her friends floated in the water below, encouraging her to follow. She vacillated, moving to the edge, then backing away. Again and again, they called her name.



April 27:

I have hauled my children to art museums and historic churches since they were small. As a result, they have become adept at recognizing saints since, traditionally, saints are depicted with easily recognized symbols: their attributes.

It becomes a game of sorts, a game that they also enjoy turning around on me--not allowing me to see the title of a painting and then seeing if I can identify the saint; Catherine of Alexandria and her wheel, Jerome with his lion, Anthony and the Christ Child and, of course, Peter with his keys and the rooster nearby.


MORE

October 2

There's nothing unusual there--it's part of the early vocabulary of most toddlers, isn't it? But what strikes me is that he doesn't just say it when something "bad" happens. Any time there is any transition, it's what comes out: "Uh-oh!" It's cute, but I wonder, do I react the same way to potential or real change? Do I reflexively react with hesitation or even outright fear, or do I react with confidence that, with the help of God's power and love, I can move forward?




September 18:

Once a week, I volunteer in an after-school reading program. The children arrive at the parish following a day in a struggling school in a struggling neighborhood. The early readers may have a few words they are sure about, but when they hit an unfamiliar word, their reaction is always the same--their eyes move from the letters and start darting about the page. There must be a hint. They're looking for a sign.




 September 4:

But there is someone, and the psalmist guides me to him. The God who created me out of love knows me. I listen as he teaches, I understand as my heart opens to his wisdom. In the stillness, he sketches the flaws, he captures the truth, and I see.




For example, May 31:

To see Mary is no distraction. For when I welcome her, something else happens too; like Elizabeth, I welcome the Christ she bears. In greeting her, I offer God praise, as her cousin does, for it is God who has done this, graciously entering creation in this ordinary, extraordinary way.



 April 27

Vowed religious life, the bishop said, is also a radical sign of grace and mercy. He said that the heart of a religious is bound in love to "the poor Christ, the chaste Christ, the obedient Christ."

 April 22:


We've been in the present place for a couple of years now. When I bought it, I proclaimed, "This is it. No more!" But even though I said I wasn't looking, I still looked. Just to see, of course. Just to see.
Then one day I was moved--by grace--to make a decision. Stop looking and pretending you're not. Stop feeding dissatisfaction in this earthly home. Accept where you are, now. It's enough.
And there it was. In standing still, I was free.



MORE



"amy welborn"

Recently:



The webpage for Living Faith is here.

Living Faith is a print publication - available in Spanish and English - but a digital edition is available as well.

More information on the digital edition is here. 

Follow Living Faith on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, July 3

Amy Welborn in Living Faith

Amy Welborn is a contributor - five devotions per issue -  to the Living Faith daily devotional quarterly.

For example, today, July 3:

I live in a part of the country in which college football is...big! During the fall, entering and exiting stores, people who are strangers recognize their common bond and really do say, in passing, "Roll, Tide!" At the grocery checkout, class, ethnic and gender divisions disappear as deeply felt and informed predictions are made about next week or postmortems are offered on last week's matchups. I've experienced this surrounding college football. You may know of it from soccer or baseball in your community.

More 


June 25:

The little girl in the after-school tutoring program was confounded by the crossword puzzle. And so were the two adults trying to help.
None of us could make any sense of it. After almost a half an hour of frustration, I told the very patient child that she could do something else. She asked to play a game with me. The program's rule was that a book should be read first, but considering the torture of the previous half-hour, I bent that rule.





 June 2:

My youngest son is an animal fanatic, so we watch a lot of nature documentaries. It is amazing because it seems as if there is no end to the mysteries and fascinating, quirky elements of nature.
For example, the other day, we learned about the California ground squirrel. It protects itself and its family against rattlesnake predators by chewing snake skins to shreds and rubbing them on its fur. Presto! It no longer smells like breakfast, but instead like a fellow snake.
I watch this and I'm amazed, once again, by the mystery and wonder of God's creation.
More

, May 7:

In the heat of summer, we headed to a large swimming hole. One of the ways you could reach the water was by jumping off a steep, cliff like bank.

For a time, we watched as one young woman stood on the edge, contemplating a jump. Her friends floated in the water below, encouraging her to follow. She vacillated, moving to the edge, then backing away. Again and again, they called her name.



April 27:

I have hauled my children to art museums and historic churches since they were small. As a result, they have become adept at recognizing saints since, traditionally, saints are depicted with easily recognized symbols: their attributes.

It becomes a game of sorts, a game that they also enjoy turning around on me--not allowing me to see the title of a painting and then seeing if I can identify the saint; Catherine of Alexandria and her wheel, Jerome with his lion, Anthony and the Christ Child and, of course, Peter with his keys and the rooster nearby.


MORE

October 2

There's nothing unusual there--it's part of the early vocabulary of most toddlers, isn't it? But what strikes me is that he doesn't just say it when something "bad" happens. Any time there is any transition, it's what comes out: "Uh-oh!" It's cute, but I wonder, do I react the same way to potential or real change? Do I reflexively react with hesitation or even outright fear, or do I react with confidence that, with the help of God's power and love, I can move forward?




September 18:

Once a week, I volunteer in an after-school reading program. The children arrive at the parish following a day in a struggling school in a struggling neighborhood. The early readers may have a few words they are sure about, but when they hit an unfamiliar word, their reaction is always the same--their eyes move from the letters and start darting about the page. There must be a hint. They're looking for a sign.




 September 4:

But there is someone, and the psalmist guides me to him. The God who created me out of love knows me. I listen as he teaches, I understand as my heart opens to his wisdom. In the stillness, he sketches the flaws, he captures the truth, and I see.




For example, May 31:

To see Mary is no distraction. For when I welcome her, something else happens too; like Elizabeth, I welcome the Christ she bears. In greeting her, I offer God praise, as her cousin does, for it is God who has done this, graciously entering creation in this ordinary, extraordinary way.



 April 27

Vowed religious life, the bishop said, is also a radical sign of grace and mercy. He said that the heart of a religious is bound in love to "the poor Christ, the chaste Christ, the obedient Christ."

 April 22:


We've been in the present place for a couple of years now. When I bought it, I proclaimed, "This is it. No more!" But even though I said I wasn't looking, I still looked. Just to see, of course. Just to see.
Then one day I was moved--by grace--to make a decision. Stop looking and pretending you're not. Stop feeding dissatisfaction in this earthly home. Accept where you are, now. It's enough.
And there it was. In standing still, I was free.



MORE



"amy welborn"

Recently:



The webpage for Living Faith is here.

Living Faith is a print publication - available in Spanish and English - but a digital edition is available as well.

More information on the digital edition is here. 

Follow Living Faith on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, July 2

Amy Welborn on Facebook

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


amy welbornIt 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.)

Saturday, July 1

Prove it God by Amy Welborn

This series of apologetics works for Catholic teens and young adults encompasses the diverse questions Catholic teens have in their own hearts about faith, and those they are asked by others.

Prove It: God I Don't Believe in God Because....
amy welborn
  • ...No One Can Prove He Exists
  • ...Science Shows That the Universe Exists Without a God
  • ...People Could Have Just Made the Stuff in the Bible up
  • ...It’s So Difficult to Find Him
  • ...People Have So Many Different Ideas About Him
  • ...There are So Many Hypocrites in Churches
  • ...People Do Such Horrible Things in the Name of Religion
  • ...It’s What I Believe and I Don’t Need Anyone Else to Tell Me What to Believe!
  • ...I Want to Be Free to Be Myself
  • ...I Don’t Need Him
  • ...Innocent People Suffer

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