Saturday, August 31

Gift for Catholic College Student



Here's a book that might be helpful to a young Catholic heading off to college - or just trying to figure out how to be an adult disciple of Jesus.

Here, Now. A Catholic Guide to the Good life by Amy Welborn. 

It's a book, quite simply, about discipleship, written for young adult Catholics.

From the Introduction:
Forget everything you thought you knew about Jesus. Now, listen.
It’s a bright clear day in Galilee, and this man, this friendly, intense and in ways mysterious Jesus gets off a boat in a place called Gerasene, right on the lake.
As usual, he’s got his friends with him, friends who sometimes get him, but more often, don’t. But they stick with him anyway, because this whole thing seems to be about something other than achieving untouchable intellectual precision and understanding. Something.
The group comes ashore, and a man meets them. The man is crazy, they say. Or worse, possessed. So deeply taken up by evil, death and pain that he lives in the most appropriate place: among the tombs. The dead, because he might as well be.
Jesus takes a look. Asks a question.
(“What is your name?” “Legion!” is the answer. Many. An army of evil, killing the soul, draining it of life and hope.)
And Jesus drives the demons out – into a herd of pigs. They run off a cliff.
They’re gone, those demons. The man is free. He puts his clothes on, he’s at peace, he’s ready to live again, to climb out of the tombs, his prison and his chains. He meets his fellow villagers.
They are petrified.
The villagers, the witnesses to this transformation, turn to Jesus and beg him – to help them?
No.
They beg him to get out. Leave, they say. Go back across the lake. Please.
So he does, but only after taking the formerly dead, now fully alive man, eyes wide open, aside and telling him – you go, too. Leave these tombs and go back home. Go tell what God has done for you. Do it now. (Mk 5:1-20)
What’s wrong with these people? They saw death turn to life, evil to joy and promise, and they respond - with fear? They beg the one who brought that life, who drew this poor guy out of the tombs into the sunlight and freedom to leave them?
Given the choice between pain and joy, they choose …pain?
Why?
Why. Good question. Great question.
Why do we do this? Because, you know, we do – all the time. We say we want to be happy and at peace, we really, really do…but when the hand reaches out to us…we turn away, close the door, and tell him to go back across the lake. Please.
This book is about Jesus. It’s also about the man living in the tombs, the villagers, and us.
You want to be happy, and so do I. Is it possible? Or, more importantly, is it possible to find a happiness that lasts, that we can’t lose?
Is it possible to climb out of the tombs and stay out?
Jesus, obviously, says yes.
Why are we so afraid of that yes?
A lot of the time we think of our relationship with God as something that’s just about the future. We’ll be more serious about it when we’re a bit older, or when we’re settled in careers, or married and have kids. In the future.
We’ll have plenty of time, we say.
Time for what?

Friday, August 30

Bishop Barron's Pivotal Players Series

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, August 29

Catholic Bible for Children

The Loyola Kids Book of Bible Stories by Amy Welborn is now available.

Written by popular Catholic children’s author Amy Welborn, this beautifully illustrated collection of Bible stories for kids and their families is uniquely arranged according to where the stories fall in the liturgical year and when they are proclaimed at Mass. Divided into five sections—Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter Season, and Ordinary Time—each section is subdivided into Old and New Testament stories. From “the Fall” to St. Paul, from the Exodus of the Israelites to the Ascension of Jesus, Loyola Kids Book of Bible Storiesnurtures family and individual reading of the Bible at home, while familiarity with these stories will help children connect far more meaningfully with the liturgy.


Wednesday, August 28

St. Augustine - August 28

He's in the Loyola Kids Book of Saints by Amy Welborn

If you are a catechist looking for resources to help you teach children about the saints...here you go:

The Loyola Kids' Book of Saints

 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
Amazon

Tuesday, August 27

St. Monica - August 27

"amy welborn"


"amy welborn"

We may not all be mothers, as Monica was, but we all have had one. Our relationships with our mothers might be terrible or beautiful, or somewhere in an in-between place: bewildering, regretful and hopeful.
Desire lies at the heart of our mistakes and successes as parents, caretakers and children. Monica desired her son Augustine's salvation, and Augustine yearned for a love that would not die. Around and around they went.
What is it I desire for others? Is it that, above all, they find authentic, lasting joy?Lord, may I be a help to others as we journey to you.

Monday, August 26

Amy Welborn in Living Faith

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

For example, today, August 26:

We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers...knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen.

- 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4

As you read this, my second-to-youngest child will be starting college. He'll be far away from me, and believe me, I'm probably praying. Right now.


MORE

August 15:

Sometimes I try to imagine my Christian faith without Mary, and I can't. She provides the answer to the question of how to respond to Jesus--which is the central question of the spiritual life. She teaches me how to welcome Jesus into my life, how to be taught by him, how to say yes, how to live in hope.



MORE



 July 18:

I don't have as many anxiety dreams as I used to. But when they occur, they share the same setting as they always have: I'm in the classroom, either as a student or a teacher, unprepared to either take or give an exam. Or I have to get to school and I just can't.

What a relief it is to realize--either in the midst of it or upon awaking--that it was, indeed, just a dream.



 July 3


A long time ago, my oldest son stumbled in the kitchen. A knife in the cutlery rack of the open dishwasher door stabbed his leg and he had to get stitches. Now, 20 years later, you can still see the scar. I glance at my forearm and a darkened crescent shape reminds me of the time I burned myself with an iron.

Whether we are children or adults, we relish battle scars. We compare them, check to see if they are still visible. They are evidence of adventures, mistakes, and they are signs of surprising strength. We recognize ourselves, in part, through our scars.



MORE

.

 June 22:

When I was a child, I used to frustrate my parents--so they told me later--because when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I would shrug and say that I couldn't think of anything. I told them that whatever they gave would be all right.

I don't share this so you can file it away in my canonization file: "Even as a child, she eschewed the false glitter of the world..." Far from it! 


MORE


 May 14:


I'm taking a stand in defense of paint. Specifically, paint drying. What is it we say when we want to express deadly dullness? "It's like watching paint dry."


MORE



 April 30

I was in a boat on a lake in Central America and feeling guilty about it. My youngest son, asked where he'd like to go on a summer trip, had answered "Mayan ruins in Guatemala." So here we were. Who does that? "Ridiculous," I thought. What an overprivileged pair!



MORE



 April 15:

The garage doors had been inoperable for months, mostly because I was convinced it would be an expensive repair. A handyman, here on another job, snapped a part into place, pushed a button--done.
I was both joyful and shamed because of the easy fix. I was elated at the simplicity and zero cost, but a little embarrassed that I'd not understood that the situation wasn't really that complicated after all.\

MORE

 March 31:

I don't remember my baptism. There aren't even any photographs of the event. But it happened. And, indeed, as a tiny baby there in Bloomington, Indiana, I died and rose with Christ, and here I am.



MORE

 February 25:



When my children see a wasp outside the house, I ask them to please not race away in fear. Do themselves, and the rest of us, a favor, I say, and follow it, at least with their eyes. For if there is a wasp floating about, it's likely because it has a home--one that's probably attached to our home somehow, under an eave or in a doorframe. If we follow it to its source instead of just running in fear, we might eliminate a lot of future problems.

MORE

February 22 - the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

When I think about each of the important older people in my life (all deceased because I'm one of the older ones now), all are associated with a chair.
My father's preferred spot was his desk chair in his study. My mother spent her days in her comfortable chair in the corner, surrounded by books. My great-aunt was not to be disturbed as she watched afternoon soap operas from her wingback chair. My grandfather had his leather-covered lounger, its arms dotted with holes burned by cigars.



More



 January 29:

Inside this church, it is warm and dry. Light filters through stained glass and shines on friendly, familiar faces. Led by the choir, we chant praise, joining our voices to the saints. The Lord comes among us.

As I pause at the church door on my way out, I'm met by the chill that lies outside. I know that I'll encounter strangers and much that's unfamiliar out there. It's far more comfortable inside.

MORE

 January 7:

I would have just driven on by. But my son, always alert to the mysteries that nature holds, had been paying attention, so he was able to see. And so Magi, wise and observant of God's ways in the world, were led by the light to his son.

MORE


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.




MORE



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.

MORE

 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.


MORE

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.


MORE




 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.


MORE

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.



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.






"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, August 25

Catholic Daily Devotional

The Catholic Woman’s Book of Days by Amy Welborn is a 365-day devotional for Catholic women. It is loosely tied to the liturgical year, is a very handy size, and features special devotions for several saints. It is not structured to be tied to any particular year. So it’s sort of perennial. And no, I don’t know about the crosses on the cover. People always ask me about them, thinking they’re mine. You can take a look inside the devotional, including several entries for January and June here.
I would like to add that the devotional entries were very carefully composed to beinclusive of all women, no matter their state in life or areas of interest.  I don’t presume that all women are married, have children, single, widowed, divorced, young, elderly, employed outside the home or not, homeschoolers, are into shopping or shoes or purses, are engaged with social media, or what have you.  It wasn’t an easy book to write – in fact, it was the most difficult book I’ve written – but I’m pleased with the outcome, and I think most readers are as well.

Saturday, August 24

Charlotte Was Both Blog

Charlotte Was Both is the name of Amy Welborn's current blog.  It is located here. 

From the blog's "about" page:


Thanks for visiting. I've been blogging since 2001.  This is my third blog and third blog platform. (Fourth if you count the brief foray to Beliefnet for a few months in 2009. Readers just found it an unsatisfying experience, and it didn't feel like "home.") This blog is not updated daily, and it's not newsy. It's just sort of here.  We come, we go.  I do a lot of writing in various forms, and this is just one more, although it seems to be mostly photographs these days. Email is all read, and thank you for writing. Here's my other blog: Booked: A Travel Blog  Here's my webpage I'm all linky and newsy on Twitter - for the moment. I go back and forth on Twitter, but I'm there for the now: amywelborn2 I'm playing with Pinterest here.  Just got started (8/2011). Don't know how long it will last.Here's my Amazon page - with links to all my books.


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.)


"amy welborn"

Friday, August 23

RCIA Resources

RCIA is about to begin!

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. 

Thursday, August 22

Queenship of Mary - August 22

Today is another Marian feast - the Queenship of Mary.  It's also one of the mysteries of the Rosary, and so it's appropriate to talk about the Rosary as we contemplate the feast. Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

Tuesday, August 20

First Communion Class

If you are teaching 2nd grade Catechism this year, the book Friendship With Jesus by Amy Welborn might be a helpful resource.

Friendship with Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI Speaks to Children on Their First Holy Communion


Friendship With Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI Talks to Children on Their First Holy Communion is based on a dialogue in St. Peter's Square that took place in 2006




Artist Ann Engelhart thought the dialogue would make a wonderful children's book and asked me to help edit it and get it published. It was first published in England by the Catholic Truth Society in 2010 and then picked up by Ignatius Press in 2011.







Monday, August 19

Prove It: Prayer by Amy Welborn

Some Catholic schools use the Prove It series by Amy Welborn as textbooks in Theology class. They are available here. 

Prove It; Prayer

Section 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. by Amy Welborn

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

Sunday, August 18

Books for Catholic Schools






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.​




amy_welborn9

Saturday, August 17

Gift for Catholic College Student



Here's a book that might be helpful to a young Catholic heading off to college - or just trying to figure out how to be an adult disciple of Jesus.

Here, Now. A Catholic Guide to the Good life by Amy Welborn. 

It's a book, quite simply, about discipleship, written for young adult Catholics.

From the Introduction:
Forget everything you thought you knew about Jesus. Now, listen.
It’s a bright clear day in Galilee, and this man, this friendly, intense and in ways mysterious Jesus gets off a boat in a place called Gerasene, right on the lake.
As usual, he’s got his friends with him, friends who sometimes get him, but more often, don’t. But they stick with him anyway, because this whole thing seems to be about something other than achieving untouchable intellectual precision and understanding. Something.
The group comes ashore, and a man meets them. The man is crazy, they say. Or worse, possessed. So deeply taken up by evil, death and pain that he lives in the most appropriate place: among the tombs. The dead, because he might as well be.
Jesus takes a look. Asks a question.
(“What is your name?” “Legion!” is the answer. Many. An army of evil, killing the soul, draining it of life and hope.)
And Jesus drives the demons out – into a herd of pigs. They run off a cliff.
They’re gone, those demons. The man is free. He puts his clothes on, he’s at peace, he’s ready to live again, to climb out of the tombs, his prison and his chains. He meets his fellow villagers.
They are petrified.
The villagers, the witnesses to this transformation, turn to Jesus and beg him – to help them?
No.
They beg him to get out. Leave, they say. Go back across the lake. Please.
So he does, but only after taking the formerly dead, now fully alive man, eyes wide open, aside and telling him – you go, too. Leave these tombs and go back home. Go tell what God has done for you. Do it now. (Mk 5:1-20)
What’s wrong with these people? They saw death turn to life, evil to joy and promise, and they respond - with fear? They beg the one who brought that life, who drew this poor guy out of the tombs into the sunlight and freedom to leave them?
Given the choice between pain and joy, they choose …pain?
Why?
Why. Good question. Great question.
Why do we do this? Because, you know, we do – all the time. We say we want to be happy and at peace, we really, really do…but when the hand reaches out to us…we turn away, close the door, and tell him to go back across the lake. Please.
This book is about Jesus. It’s also about the man living in the tombs, the villagers, and us.
You want to be happy, and so do I. Is it possible? Or, more importantly, is it possible to find a happiness that lasts, that we can’t lose?
Is it possible to climb out of the tombs and stay out?
Jesus, obviously, says yes.
Why are we so afraid of that yes?
A lot of the time we think of our relationship with God as something that’s just about the future. We’ll be more serious about it when we’re a bit older, or when we’re settled in careers, or married and have kids. In the future.
We’ll have plenty of time, we say.
Time for what?

Friday, August 16

Assumption of Mary - E-book on Mary by Amy Welborn

Mary and the Christian Life by Amy Welborn  was published by Word Among Press in 2008.

"amy welborn"




Review from Sarah Reinhard : 

In less than 150 pages, Welborn shares relevant history, devotions, and thoughts on the Blessed Virgin. Her language is so accessible, so real, that I almost feel like she was sitting across the table from me as I drank coffee and devoured the book.

If you're unsure about devotion to Mary and why it's important, this is a great book to introduce you to it without hitting you over the head with it. If you're grounded in your Marian approach, pick up this book and find yourself reminded of the beauty of the simple, of the richness of the history, and of the thoughts of great minds before us about Mary.





Thursday, August 15

Amy Welborn in Living Faith

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

For example today, August 15:

Sometimes I try to imagine my Christian faith without Mary, and I can't. She provides the answer to the question of how to respond to Jesus--which is the central question of the spiritual life. She teaches me how to welcome Jesus into my life, how to be taught by him, how to say yes, how to live in hope.



MORE



 July 18:

I don't have as many anxiety dreams as I used to. But when they occur, they share the same setting as they always have: I'm in the classroom, either as a student or a teacher, unprepared to either take or give an exam. Or I have to get to school and I just can't.

What a relief it is to realize--either in the midst of it or upon awaking--that it was, indeed, just a dream.



 July 3


A long time ago, my oldest son stumbled in the kitchen. A knife in the cutlery rack of the open dishwasher door stabbed his leg and he had to get stitches. Now, 20 years later, you can still see the scar. I glance at my forearm and a darkened crescent shape reminds me of the time I burned myself with an iron.

Whether we are children or adults, we relish battle scars. We compare them, check to see if they are still visible. They are evidence of adventures, mistakes, and they are signs of surprising strength. We recognize ourselves, in part, through our scars.



MORE

.

 June 22:

When I was a child, I used to frustrate my parents--so they told me later--because when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I would shrug and say that I couldn't think of anything. I told them that whatever they gave would be all right.

I don't share this so you can file it away in my canonization file: "Even as a child, she eschewed the false glitter of the world..." Far from it! 


MORE


 May 14:


I'm taking a stand in defense of paint. Specifically, paint drying. What is it we say when we want to express deadly dullness? "It's like watching paint dry."


MORE



 April 30

I was in a boat on a lake in Central America and feeling guilty about it. My youngest son, asked where he'd like to go on a summer trip, had answered "Mayan ruins in Guatemala." So here we were. Who does that? "Ridiculous," I thought. What an overprivileged pair!



MORE



 April 15:

The garage doors had been inoperable for months, mostly because I was convinced it would be an expensive repair. A handyman, here on another job, snapped a part into place, pushed a button--done.
I was both joyful and shamed because of the easy fix. I was elated at the simplicity and zero cost, but a little embarrassed that I'd not understood that the situation wasn't really that complicated after all.\

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 March 31:

I don't remember my baptism. There aren't even any photographs of the event. But it happened. And, indeed, as a tiny baby there in Bloomington, Indiana, I died and rose with Christ, and here I am.



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 February 25:



When my children see a wasp outside the house, I ask them to please not race away in fear. Do themselves, and the rest of us, a favor, I say, and follow it, at least with their eyes. For if there is a wasp floating about, it's likely because it has a home--one that's probably attached to our home somehow, under an eave or in a doorframe. If we follow it to its source instead of just running in fear, we might eliminate a lot of future problems.

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February 22 - the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

When I think about each of the important older people in my life (all deceased because I'm one of the older ones now), all are associated with a chair.
My father's preferred spot was his desk chair in his study. My mother spent her days in her comfortable chair in the corner, surrounded by books. My great-aunt was not to be disturbed as she watched afternoon soap operas from her wingback chair. My grandfather had his leather-covered lounger, its arms dotted with holes burned by cigars.



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 January 29:

Inside this church, it is warm and dry. Light filters through stained glass and shines on friendly, familiar faces. Led by the choir, we chant praise, joining our voices to the saints. The Lord comes among us.

As I pause at the church door on my way out, I'm met by the chill that lies outside. I know that I'll encounter strangers and much that's unfamiliar out there. It's far more comfortable inside.

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 January 7:

I would have just driven on by. But my son, always alert to the mysteries that nature holds, had been paying attention, so he was able to see. And so Magi, wise and observant of God's ways in the world, were led by the light to his son.

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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.



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.


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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.






"amy welborn"

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