Friday, July 19

The Truth About Mary Magdalene - 2

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?

Thursday, July 18

The truth about Mary Magdalene - 1

Mary Magdalene's feast is coming next week - July 22. Be prepared!


Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legends and Lies by Amy Welborn



was published by Our Sunday Visitor books some years ago, but is now out of print. A digital version is now available through Amazon Kindle. Click on cover for more information:

Are you interested in an objective examination of the life and lore of Mary Magdalene, a narrative that isn't agenda-driven or saturated with ideology?
Do you just want to learn more about Mary Magedalene's identity and role in Christian spirituality, literature and art?

I wrote this book for you.

There's a great deal of material out there on Mary Magdalene, it's true. Some of the scholarly material is really fine, but tooamy welborn many of the books for popular audiences are informed by one ideology or another, or fall completely into fantasy.

In De-coding Mary Magdalene I stick to the facts - what we know about Mary Magdalene from the Gospels, and then how Christian amy welborn tradition in both East and West continued to meditate on the figure of Mary Magdalene, seeing in her the model disciple - and weaving all kinds of fascinating legends around her as well.

Here's the bottom line: The Da Vinci Code propogates the lie that Christianity through the ages marginalized and demonized Mary Magdalene as a "whore" in order to minimize her impact.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Mary Magdalene was the second most popular saint of the Middle Ages. And do catch that word - saint - Honoring someone as a saint (feastday July 22) is a truly odd way of "demonizing" a person. Don't you think?

So - come meet Mary Magdalene - as she comes to us in the Gospels, as Christians imagined her through the ages as they contemplated her fidelity and discipleship, and how some contemporary interpreters get her so completely wrong.

Table of Contents

Mary of Magdala
"Why Are You Weeping?
The Real Mary?
Apostle to the Apostles
Which Mary?
The Golden Legend
Touching the Magdalene
To the East
The Penitent
Mary and the Mystics
The Magdalene in Art


Rediscovery

Wednesday, July 17

July 17 - Carmelite Nuns of Compiegne

July 17 is the memorial of the Carmelite Nuns of Compiegne, martyred in the French Revolution. They are in  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

Tuesday, July 16

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))

Monday, July 15

Amy Welborn's Books

 Scripture Passages that Changed My Life -  a collection of essays by Living Faith authors - is now available. Amy Welborn has an essay included. From the publisher's description:

The power of Scripture to guide us to a closer relationship with the Lord and one another may be hard to describe. But one of the best ways to learn about his divine power is through the experiences of others.For decades, the authors featured in this book have inspired readers with their reflections on Scripture through the pages of the ever-popular Living Faith Daily Catholic Devotions magazine. Now, get a personal, behind-the-scenes look at which Scripture passages have most inspired them.In Scripture Passages That Changed My Life , ten of Living Faith's most well-known authors each explain how meditating on the word of God has changed their lives. Allow the lessons that they have learned to deepen your prayer experience and maybe even change your life, through the word of God.

amy_welborn

Sunday, July 14

July 14 - St. Kateri

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

Saturday, July 13

Praying with the Pivotal Players

Praying with the Pivotal Players is the most recent video and study series from Bishop Robert Barron.

Each figure gets five segments. Each segment begins with a quote from their writings, even Michelangelo who left many letters and wrote poetry. This is followed up with some reflections and then some prayer and reflection prompts. The sections are thematically aligned with whatever is emphasized in the episodes. I wrote the book last fall, and really enjoyed the process. It gave me an opportunity to immerse myself in the writings of these figures and I learned quite a bit. The table of contents is on the website. 
The book is included as part of the parish program packet, but judging from what I see on Amazon, you should be able to purchase it by itself eventually.


"pivotal players"

Thursday, July 11

St. Benedict - July 11

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

Wednesday, July 10

Jesus for Catholics

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

Tuesday, July 9

All about Catholic Prayer

The Words We Pray 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.

"Amy Welborn

Monday, July 8

Catholic Book for Children











The Loyola Kids Book of Signs and Symbols by Amy Welborn 
was awarded first place in the "Children's Books" category from the Catholic Press Association:


For centuries people learned about the Christian faith through paintings, sculptures, objects, and gestures. Simple images still convey deep messages if we learn how to see and understand them. Award-winning children’s author Amy Welborn has created a friendly and fascinating sourcebook on the signs and symbols of the Catholic faith. The exquisite illustrations throughout will inspire conversation and prayerful reflection for readers of all ages. Each image appears with a brief, child-friendly explanation coupled with a more detailed description on the opposite page.
From the sign of the fish to the Stations of the Cross, from the palm branch to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Loyola Kids Book of Catholic Signs and Symbols will enable children and adults to experience faith with curiosity and wonder.​



Sunday, July 7

Amy Welborn in Living Faith

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


Today, July 7:


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 June 19:

Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.

- 2 Corinthians 9:8

This time of year is one of transition, isn't it? Sacraments are celebrated, graduations dot the calendar. Everyone, it seems, is moving from one stage to the next. For us, it's about my second-to-last son graduating from high school this month and starting college in the fall. Since he is the fourth of five, in one sense, it's all old hat to me. But of course, because he's different, this is different.



MORE


June 4:

My hairdresser shared, out of the blue, that the guy she's dating is a widower with a child and what a struggle that is--something I can directly relate to. Then she started talking about her mother's family tussling over their grandparents' estate. I've experienced the estate part, if not the tussling, and I think what I had to offer might have helped the situation.


Connections are everywhere, and as we discover those connections and share our experiences, we work with the Lord, sharing each other's burdens.

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 February 13:

Just about my least favorite thing about raising children is anything having to do with new drivers. I don't want them to be hurt, and just as deeply, I don't want them to hurt others. Of course, the new driver in question invariably dismisses my fretting, confident as young people tend to be.

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 January 28:

My son had complained of aching knees for a while until finally he said he thought it merited a trip to the doctor. So X-rays were taken, the doctor twisted and turned my son's limbs and finally announced, "Hypermobility." His very flexible tissues, tendons and muscles ached from the strain of doing their job. There was no fix. He'd just have to live with it.

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December 26

 December 19:

During Advent, in these days leading to Christmas, my days and evenings are marked by familiar rituals of all kinds.

I pray at Mass, of course. And in the Scriptures, prayers and music, I am eased into the journey of waiting and hope. Candles glimmer from my mother's Advent wreath. We hang the wooden "O Antiphon" crafts my sons made years ago. The lights, the recipes, the scents of these days create a place that I know.




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November 17

Last Thanksgiving, a local restaurant offered a free meal. If you could pay, fine, and any money would go to a shelter. If you were unable to pay, that didn't matter. The doors were open, the table was set, and you were welcome to the feast.

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 November 5:

I am surrounded by people just trying to do the right thing. Sometimes we make the right decisions, sometimes the wrong ones. We correct our mistakes, try to do better and bear it all patiently, never forgetting our own limitations and our own missed calls.


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October 4:

He was called Il Poverello--the little poor one--and we very strongly and rightly associate St. Francis of Assisi with poverty. We love him because in him we see that it is, indeed, possible to live the call of Jesus, to follow in a radical way, with nowhere to rest our head, trusting in God alone on the journey.


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 September 24

As a word person, I have always loved word games, especially Scrabble. I was recently introduced to another game that is similar but different.




 August 23:

What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?- Matthew 20:14-15I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a local park, preparing for a run. My door was open, and stuffed in the side pocket were some packs of children's religious materials I'd been sent as samples. I was going to leave them at church.


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August 22

Dreams are odd things: comforting, frightening, puzzling, revealing. Just as odd to me as their content is the way in which dreams reside within my memory. More often than I can say, I am stopped short mid-morning by a vivid and complete recollection of a dream I had forgotten until that moment.



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 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.

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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.
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, 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.







"amy welborn"

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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.

Saturday, July 6

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.



Friday, July 5

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

by Amy Welborn

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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Thursday, July 4

Amy Welborn Interview


CF: Do you usually stick to a planned itinerary exclusively or prefer to discover more spontaneously?

AW: I balance it out. It’s unwise to be too hard-nosed in either direction. If I didn’t plan at all, didn’t research, I’d miss something interesting and would regret that. But being too anal about a schedule will have exactly the same impact – and will make everyone miserable. I generally like to schedule – wow, I even hate the word! – one major destination a day, and then leave the rest of the time unstructured and free for wandering. The most memorable sites tend to be the unexpected, don’t you think? It’s very much like life. A plan is good, but who doesn’t look back at their life and acknowledge that the most wonderful things about your life were those that were surprises that popped up outside of the plan?

CF: What is an absolute must on your packing list?

AW: Extra contact lenses?

Wednesday, July 3

The 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))

Tuesday, July 2

Youth Ministry Summer Programs

Prove It: Church by Amy Welbornamy welborn

  1. What Church Do You Go To?
  2. Why Isn’t Your Church a ‘Bible Only’ Church?
  3. Why Don’t You Read the Bible Literally?
  4. Why Aren’t Some of Your Beliefs in the Bible?
  5. Why Doesn’t Your Church Let You Interpret Scripture?
  6. Why Has Your Church Added Books to the Bible?
  7. Why Were You Baptized as a Baby?
  8. Why Aren’t You Saved?
  9. Why Does Your Church Say You’re Saved by Works, Not by Faith?
  10. Why Do You Pray to Saints?
  11. Why Do You Honor Mary So Much?
  12. Why Does Your Church Have Statues?
  13. Why Do you Believe That the Pope is Infallible?
  14. Why Do You Confess to a Priest?
  15. Why Do You Call Priests, “Father?”
  16. Why Do You Believe In Purgatory?

A resource for teen catechesis and Catholic youth ministry

Monday, July 1

Prayer for Teens

Prove It; Prayer

amy welbornSection 1 I Don’t Pray Because….
  1. …God’s In My Heart All the Time
  2. …God Already Knows Everything I Feel: I Don’t Have to Tell Him
  3. …God’s In Control: My Prayer Doesn’t Influence Him
Section II I Want to Pray, But It’s Difficult Because…
  1. …I’m Too Busy
  2. …I Don’t Know Where to Start
  3. …Meditation is Weird
  4. …I Can’t Concentrate
  5. …The Bible is Too Hard to Read
  6. …Memorized Prayers Are Meaningless
  7. …I don’t Know Whether It’s God I’m Hearing, or Just Me
Epilogue: Prayer and the Rest of Your Life

Excerpt from Prove It: Prayer.

A resource for Catholic youth ministry and Catholic catechesis of youth. 

Sunday, June 30

Free Catholic Book

If you would like an simple introduction to this thought written for a popular audience, try my Come Meet Jesus: An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI.   by Amy Welborn
This book is centered on Christ as the center of Pope Benedict’s thought and work as theologian and vocation as Pope.   It seemed to me that he is “proposing pope benedict XVIJesus Christ” both to the world and to the Church.  He was 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.

Saturday, June 29

St. Peter and Paul - June 29

The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is June 29.  Introduce your children to more saints....

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 WayThe Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is June 29.  Introduce your children to more saints....
    The Loyola Kids Book of Heroes

     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

Friday, June 28

June 28 - Feast of the Sacred Heart

June is dedicated in a special way to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

June 28 is the feast of the Sacred Heart.



Here are the pages on the Sacred Heart from The Loyola Kids Book of Catholic Signs and Symbols by Amy Welborn. 
Click on each image for a larger version.

As you can see, the structure of the book is: for every entry, the left-hand page features a beautiful illustration and a brief definition. On the facing page, you will find a longer explanation, suitable for older children.










More about the book - and the others in the series - here. 





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