Thursday, January 30

St. John Bosco January 31

Read about him in  The Loyola Kids Book of Saints by Amy Welborn.  (You can click on individual images to get a clearer view.)


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 Mollaamy welborn

Saints 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

Wednesday, January 29

Catholic Schools Week

Do your bit for evangelization by donating or suggesting a good Catholic children's book for purchase by your local public library. Catholic schools and parishes would also welcome a donation. 

 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

Tuesday, January 28

St. Thomas Aquinas - January 28

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

Here is a devotional she wrote for the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas - January 28:

Our faith is marked by questions. We seek, trusting that there must be a source to satisfy the hungers we have been born with. St. Thomas Aquinas was a man of questions and answers, all born of deep hunger and love for God. Balanced, he prayed the Mass with intense devotion, wrote beautiful hymns, sacrificed much to give himself wholly to God and share with the world the fruit of his search.

Monday, January 27

After Life with Ricky Gervais

Originally published in Medium by Amy Welborn

After Life is also dark, also a comedy, none of that unexpected as it comes from the mind and pen of Ricky Gervais. I’m not a huge fan of Gervais, especially in his self-important Professional Atheist guise, although I did like The Office and Extras and very much — very much — appreciate his firm dismissal of transgender activism and other aspects of Cancel Culture. He’s one of the few consistent public figures out there on this score: Yes, I have the right to express my views, no matter how noxious they’re judged to be — and that means others do as well.


Gervais plays Tony, a man whose wife died of cancer some months before we get rolling. They were together for twenty-five years, and childless. Tony works at a small-town newspaper and spends his days having foul-tempered run-ins with various townspeople and co-workers. Episodes are peppered with Tony watching videos left by his wife when she was in the hospital, as well as videos he made of their life together.
The bottom line of the plot here is: Tony has lost his world, and doesn’t see a reason to keep existing. Suicide is continually on his mind, even when he chooses against it — that choice gives him, as he puts it, a “superpower” — to keep on living life exactly as he pleases, saying and doing what he wants, knowing that at any point he can just end it.
After a few episodes of this jerk behavior, we have a shift — a decision Tony makes results in a tragedy (although he never really takes ownership of it), which results in him rethinking things — along with a few other encounters, he comes to understand that, yes, he has a “superpower” — to impact the lives of others for good.
So…(again, spoiler alert) — the last episode gives us the equivalent of a Hallmark/Lifetime movie or It’s a Wonderful Life as Tony opens up to life again, finally realizes that he’s not the only person in the world who’s suffering and sprinkles the fairy dust of good deeds over his surroundings. It’s almost shockingly sentimental.

Sunday, January 26

Dead to Me on Netflix



Dead to Me stars Christina Applegate as Jen, a woman whose husband was killed in a hit-and-run accident while out jogging. At a grief retreat, she’s befriended by Judy, played by the wonderful Linda Cardellini (you may know her from Mad Men). There are all kinds of plot twists and the show lurches between dark comedy and more than one mystery — not only who killed Jen’s husband, but who exactly Judy is and why she’s latched on to Jen. I eventually lost interest in the plot machinations. Less convolution would have served the story well.
But there was a truth at the core of Dead to Me that went beyond female bonding.
What gets everything going is Jen’s obsessive, driving need to know what happened. How did her husband die? Why was in that place at that time? Who did this? What could she have done differently? Was she herself at all responsible?
It’s a natural series of questions for this character, given the very real mystery and crime that caused her husband’s death. Nonetheless, it highlights, rather effectively, similar questions that any less dramatic death tends to raise in the hearts of the living: How did this happen? Whose fault is it? Could we have done anything differently?

Saturday, January 25

Conversion of St. Paul - January 25

It's the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.


The event is included in The Loyola Kids Book of Bible Stories and The Loyola Kids' Book of Heroes.  Both by Amy Welborn.






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

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, January 24

The Good Companions by J. B. Priestley




Long. So be prepared. The copy I read was 640 pages.

The story fills those pages, though, and it was great to have a book to settle into in the evenings, knowing that I’d be carried along but with more to look forward to tomorrow.

The Good Companions was an enormous best-seller in England when it was published in 1929. It’s the story of a “concert party” or pierrot troupe, which was a variety traveling entertainment company, very popular and common between the wars.

It takes a bit — about a third of the book — before we meet that troupe, named the “Dinky Doos” at that point. No, before that, we are immersed in the stories of three very different people whose paths will cross with each other, and eventually with the performers, changing their lives in the way chance encounters at the end of winding paths do.

Jesiah Oakroyd is a Yorkshire worker — a mechanic of some sort with a challenging family life and a hankering for the road. Fear that he’s being accused of a crime and the actual reality of being fired from his job inspire him to set out and see what he can see.

Elizabeth Trant is a woman in her mid-30’s who has spent her adult life caring for her recently deceased father. We meet her as the estate is being auctioned off and she senses the opportunity for change. This potential change is moved along by a visit from her nephew Hilary (whose accounts of his intellectual set — the “Statics” — is priceless), who leaves her his car.

Finally, there’s Inigo Jollifant, a young man with literary aspirations and musical talent who teaches in possibly the worst public school in England. After offending the wife of the headmaster one too many times, he, too, sets off late one night, determined to experience The Road and write something Literary about it.

These three experience various adventures, misfortunes and accidents that bring them all to the same place, which happens to be the same place that the members of the Dinky Doos are sadly gathered, having been abandoned and financially wiped out by their former manager.


Originally published in Medium, by Amy Welborn

Thursday, January 23

Harry Potter Books

Originally published in Medium, by Amy Welborn:

Internet memes and catchphrases come and go. Some strike us as cute or even surprisingly and succinctly descriptive when they first pop up, but then most of them wear out their welcome within days — hours, now, it seems.
Things. Like. This. Worst. Ever.
Well, one that I encounter on Twitter now and then that I’m not tired of yet is this and variations:
#ReadaDifferentBook
(Variations: Read Another Book. Watch A Different Movie)
The inspiration?
It’s the tic, among those who observe and comment on Life and Events — which is everyone now — to filter everything through one of a very few pop culture filters. Usually:
The Hunger Games
Game of Thrones
Harry Potter.
Maybe, once in a while Star Wars.
But seriously: every battle, political and otherwise, is made to reflect off The Hunger Games, every power struggle is Game of Thrones and every bad guy is Voldemort.
Read A Different Book.

The point is about cultural narrowness and ignorance, but it’s about more.


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Wednesday, January 22

Frost in May by Antonia White

Originally published in Medium, by Amy Welborn





Frost In May by Antonia White is a very Catholic book, and I am really wondering how I’d never heard of it or its author before a couple of weeks ago, me being the self-styled pseudo-“expert” in Catholic Lit that I fancy I am.
Humility is always just around the corner, it seems.
I won’t leave you in suspense: it’s an excellent little novel, terse, painful, ironic and complicated.
People have various views on how much the biography of an artist should weigh on our evaluation or understanding of the art. I tend to land on the “let the piece stand on its own” side most of the time, even though there’s usually one significant biographical fact that helps illumine a work and is good to know before you go on: Walker Percy’s grandfather and father both committed suicide. Flannery O’Connor’s father died young from lupus, and she knew she’d die young from it too after a certain point. And so on.
I think with Frost in May¸ knowing a bit about Antonia White is helpful. I hasten to say, though — not too much, for there’s an event in her young life that makes its way into the novel and is a definite, sad twist — and it’s good not to know what it is going in. So don’t do exhaustive research, and don’t read the introductions to modern editions before you read the novel.
(This is a pet peeve of mine — I have found this time and time again that these introductions to older novels, usually penned by popular contemporary authors, tend to give a lot of the plot away — so I’ve started skipping them. Perhaps it would be better for them to be supplementary essays in an appendix?)
But I will say that this incident — what happened to White and what happens to her protagonist — is an almost perfect distillation of the Plight of the Catholic Artist….


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Tuesday, January 21

The novels of Dorothy B. Hughes

Published in Medium by Amy Welborn:

When we think of the noir genre of literature, we think of the big names — Chandler, Hammett, Macdonald, Cain ….. all male.
But there are female noir authors as well — and one of the best was Dorothy B. Hughes. The first Hughes novel I read, a few years back was the excellent The Expendable Man.



No, it wasn’t high literature, but it is a well-written noir of sorts, penned in 1963. Dorothy B. Hughes was a journalist who wrote 14 novels, the most-well known of which is probably In a Lonely Place, which was made into a film starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.
One of the reasons it’s good to read not-high literature from the past is that it gives you a different sort of historical insight. It’s very difficult to construct an even halfway accurate portrait of the past given the limitations of evidence and the power of presentism.
For me, fiction and travel literature add to the picture. I’ve taken to read a lot of older — 19th-mid 20th century- travel literature to read what writers have to say about the Catholic culture and practices of the places they visit.
So in this book, without giving too much away, the issues at hand are racial attitudes and abortion. I wouldn’t read too much about the book before reading it — there’s an element of surprise that makes the first part of the book a somewhat Sixth Sense sort of experience: you say, ah — and have to go back and re-read with the new-to-you information in mind. I know it sounds gimmicky, but it’s really not, and Hughes’ treatment of her initially-hidden information is interesting and subtle.

Monday, January 20

The Thanatos Syndrome by Walker Percy




I first encountered Walker Percy’s novel The Thanatos Syndrome, a the 1987 National Right to Life convention. I’d heard of Percy (mostly through seeing the titles of his books of my parent’s bookshelves), but as I examined a copy of the book with a cover that seemed most appropriate for a thriller of some sort, I wondered, What is this doing here?
After reading the book, the answer was clear, of course. In The Thanatos Syndrome, one of twentieth-century America’s most interesting and provocative novelists offers a vivid and challenging treatment of the consequences of devaluing human life.

Sunday, January 19

Ordinary Time for Catholic Kids

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.


Saturday, January 18

Amy Welborn Interview

At Dappled Things literary journal

Dorian Speed: In the book, you interweave a chronological narrative of your trip to Sicily with memories of your husband, as well as describing the months after his death. Did you think of these events while you were at the specific locations, or did you collect them and then decide how they might correspond with experiences during your visit?
Amy Welborn: I journaled extensively during both periods. I have been a diarist and a journal-keeper my entire life, albeit not with absolute fidelity. In times of crisis, though . . . yes, I journal. I think I filled four or five notebooks in the months after Mike died. Then, of course, I journaled throughout the trip, every night for at least an hour and half. There was, of course, nothing else to do! And then when I returned and started working on the book, I made a chart. I’ll be honest. I made a chart. I went through all the journal entries from both periods, marked entries and even sentences that I thought were suitable, then made a list of each, on either side of this chart. Then I contemplated that chart for a while, and started to see connections. There were some connections that were inherent in the experiences: the last full chapter, of course, and the recurrence of “yes” – that was all tied together in that moment for me. And I’m sure, at some level, as we traveled through Sicily, I was associating our experiences with things that had happened before. But much of it came in post-trip reflection.

Friday, January 17

Ash Wednesday is February 26, 2020

It's never too early to be thinking about Lent! 

(Ash Wednesday is February 26)

Amy Welborn


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

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

Thursday, January 16

RCIA Resources





Michael Dubruiel
The How-To Book of the Mass by Michael Dubruiel  is the only book that not only provides the who, what, where, when, and why of themost time-honored tradition of the Catholic Church but also the how.
In this complete guide you get:
  • step-by-step guidelines to walk you through the Mass
  • the Biblical roots of the various parts of the Mass and the very prayers themselves
  • helpful hints and insights from the Tradition of the Church
  • aids in overcoming distractions at Mass
  • ways to make every Mass a way to grow in your relationship with Jesus
If you want to learn what the Mass means to a truly Catholic life—and share this practice with others—you can’t be without The How-To Book of the Mass. Discover how to:
  • Bless yourself
  • Make the Sign of the Cross
  • Genuflect
  • Pray before Mass
  • Join in Singing the Opening Hymn
  • Be penitential
  • Listen to the Scriptures
  • Hear a Great Homily Everytime
  • Intercede for others
  • Be a Good Steward
  • Give Thanks to God
  • Give the Sign of Peace
  • Receive the Eucharist
  • Receive a Blessing
  • Evangelize Others
  • Get something Out of Every Mass You Attend
"Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the risen Jesus with his disciples? Walking with them he explained the Scriptures to them; sitting with them at table 'he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them."1347, Catechism of the Catholic Church

Find more about The How to Book of the Mass here.

Wednesday, January 15

First Communion Preparation

If you are teaching 2nd grade Catechism this year, the book Friendship With Jesus 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.







Tuesday, January 14

Catholic College Students



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?

Monday, January 13

Amy Welborn in Living Faith

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

For example, today, January 13:


In the midst of one of these situations, of course I was moved to pray. First, for a resolution to the situation that involved no loss, either of material goods or my pride. "Please fix it," I asked God. "Thanks." But then a different prayer came to me, a simpler one: "Help me bring good out of this."

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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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