Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Saints’ Category

What a saint!

You can, of course, read her major works online here, as well as in many other places online.

For an introduction, let’s turn to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Back in 2011, as part of his series of General Audience talks on great figures in the Church (beginning with the Apostles), he turned to Teresa.  It’s a wonderful introduction to her life.  After outlining her biography and achievements, he turns to the impact of her life and work:

In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and "teresa of avila"human life and in particular, detachment from possessions, that is, evangelical poverty, and this concerns all of us; love for one another as an essential element of community and social life; humility as love for the truth; determination as a fruit of Christian daring; theological hope, which she describes as the thirst for living water.

……

Secondly, St Teresa proposes a profound harmony with the great biblical figures and eager listening to the word of God. She feels above all closely in tune with the Bride in the Song of Songs and with the Apostle Paul, as well as with Christ in the Passion and with Jesus in the Eucharist. The Saint then stresses how essential prayer is. Praying, she says, “means being on terms of friendship with God frequently conversing in secret with him who, we know, loves us” (Vida 8, 5).

…..

Prayer is life and develops gradually, in pace with the growth of Christian life: it begins with vocal prayer, passes through interiorization by means of meditation and recollection, until it attains the union of love with Christ and with the Holy Trinity. Obviously, in the development of prayer climbing to the highest steps does not mean abandoning the previous type of prayer. Rather, it is a gradual deepening of the relationship with God that envelops the whole of life.

…..

Another subject dear to the Saint is the centrality of Christ’s humanity. For Teresa, in fact, Christian life is the personal relationship with Jesus that culminates in union with him through grace, love and imitation. Hence the importance she attaches to meditation on the Passion and on the Eucharist as the presence of Christ in the Church for the life of every believer, and as the heart of the Liturgy. St Teresa lives out unconditional love for the Church: she shows a lively “sensus Ecclesiae”, in the face of the episodes of division and conflict in the Church of her time.

…..

Dear brothers and sisters, St Teresa of Jesus is a true teacher of Christian life for the faithful of every time. In our society, which all too often lacks spiritual values, St Teresa teaches us to be unflagging witnesses of God, of his presence and of his action. She teaches us truly to feel this thirst for God that exists in the depths of our hearts, this desire to see God, to seek God, to be in conversation with him and to be his friends.

This is the friendship we all need that we must seek anew, day after day. May the example of this Saint, profoundly contemplative and effectively active, spur us too every day to dedicate the right time to prayer, to this openness to God, to this journey, in order to seek God, to see him, to discover his friendship and so to find true life; indeed many of us should truly say: “I am not alive, I am not truly alive because I do not live the essence of my life”.

Therefore time devoted to prayer is not time wasted, it is time in which the path of life unfolds, the path unfolds to learning from God an ardent love for him, for his Church, and practical charity for our brothers and sisters. Many thanks.

Then, in 2012, Benedict sent a letter to the Bishop of Avila on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the beginning of Teresa’s reform. It’s really a wonderful letter:

By distancing herself from the Mitigated Rule in order to further a radical return to the primitive Rule, St Teresa de Jesús wished to encourage a form of life that would favour the personal encounter with the Lord, for which “we have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon him present within us. Nor need we feel strange in the presence of so kind a Guest” (Camino de perfección [the Way of Perfection] 28, 2). The Monastery of San José came into being precisely in order that all its daughters might have the best possible conditions for speaking to God and establishing a profound and intimate relationship with him.

….

Teresa of Avila’s example is a great help to us in this exciting task. We can say that in her time the Saint evangelized without mincing her words, with unfailing ardour, with methods foreign to inertia and with expressions haloed with light. Her example keeps all its freshness at the crossroads of our time. It is here that we feel the urgent need for the baptized to renew their hearts through personal prayer which, in accordance with the dictates of the Mystic of Avila, is also centred on contemplation of the Most Holy Humanity of Christ as the only way on which to find God’s glory (cf. Libro de la Vida, 22, 1; Las Moradas [Interior Castle] 6, 7). Thus they will be able to form authentic families which discover in the Gospel the fire of their hearths; lively and united Christian communities, cemented on Christ as their corner-stone and which thirst after a life of generous and brotherly service. It should also be hoped that ceaseless prayer will foster priority attention to the vocations ministry, emphasizing in particular the beauty of the consecrated life which, as a treasure of the Church and an outpouring of graces, must be duly accompanied in both its active and contemplative dimensions.

The power of Christ will likewise lead to the multiplication of projects to enable the People of God to recover its strength in the only possible way: by making room within us for the sentiments of the Lord Jesus (cf. Phil 2:5), seeking in every circumstance a radical experience of his Gospel. This means, first of all, allowing the Holy Spirit to make us friends of the Teacher and to conform us to him.

…..

Today, this most illustrious daughter of the Diocese of Avila invites us to this radicalism and faithfulness. Accepting her beautiful legacy at this moment in history, the Pope asks all the members of this particular Church, and especially youth, to take seriously the common vocation to holiness. Following in the footsteps of Teresa of Jesus, allow me to say to all who have their future before them: may you too, aspire to belong totally to Jesus, only to Jesus and always to Jesus. Do not be afraid to say to Our Lord, as she did, “I am yours; I was born for you, what do you want to do with me?” (Poem 2).

I do think here that you can really see the particular way of expression that Benedict used again and again: the journey of the Christian is to be conformed to Christ. (Very Pauline, yes?)  Not merely to imitate, but to be conformed.  This suggests a deep level of engagement, a degree of surrender and understanding of the dynamic and purpose of human life that is far different that simply “trying to be like.”

Read Full Post »

— 1 —

…….in case you missed it…

Ann Engelhart did an interview with the Brooklyn Diocese television network – it’s a great introduction to the book, with a peak into her studio.

— 2 —

Jan Hooks died! Sad!

Some of you might remember Jan from SNL or Designing Women or Third Rock from the Sun   As for me and mine, I remember her from way back, even before that, back to the earliest days of WTBS.

Those of you who care or pay attention know that WTBS out of Atlanta was Ted Turner’s first station, the origins of an empire which led to TNT, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies…etc.

But before any of that was WTCG – channel 17 –  an independent station that showed reruns, the Atlanta Braves and featured one Bill Tush as new anchor and entertainment impresario.

I am not sure how – I’m assuming the earliest stages of cable – WTCG reached our house in Knoxville.  When I was in high school, Bill Tush had a very strange, wild, late night news show.

A couple of years after that, he had a sketch comedy show called, appropriately, “Tush,” featuring a merry band of comedic actors and writers, including Ed and Bonnie Turner, and …Jan Hooks.


— 3 —

When the news came across the wire (okay..Twitter) today than Jan Hooks had passed away, I was shocked, not only that she had died, but that the headlines reported that she was 57 years old.  Wait, what? I’m 54.  No way she was only 3 years older than I am….I mean…wasn’t I a teenager when I became a fan, and didn’t I at the time peg her has about ten years older?

I don’t know. I guess I got confused, thinking that “Tush” was what I’d watched in high school…but no. It must have been just Bill Tush’s crazy late-night news antics then. “Tush” was a few years later and now, re watching what’s available – sad YouTube renditions – geez, you’d think that someone would get us a decent set – I can see how young she was.

Rest in peace.  What a talent.

(The oddest thing about revisiting these Tush sketches today was how familiar they were.  I must have VCR’d them back in the day because today, 30+ years later, I could almost recite some of them…)

— 4 —

Michael and I took a field trip this week on our only available day – Wednesday.  We (I) drove about an hour to Oneonta, to Palisades Park, which provided us with a decent little woodsy hike and some views, and then to a couple of covered bridges.  Blount County, Alabama boasts of three covered bridges.  We’d been to one a couple of years ago, so today, we crossed off the other two  One was small and nothing to brage about, but the other – Horton Mill Bridge – was quite impressive.

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

— 5 —

It’s the highest covered bridge in the United States – 70+ feet above the waters of the Warrior River.

What was even more impressive was the approach.  I drove north of Oneonata on 231….putter, putter…and saw the sign.  It pointed left and said, “covered bridge.”  I turned, expecting to drive a bit more before I hit it. Nope!  It was RIGHT THERE!  Still in use, not two hundred feet from the state highway.  Well.

— 6 —

Michael and I attended a short presentation on a cultural/historical matter at a local cultural institution this week.  In the midst of the very mediocre presentation, the presenter referred to Michael and said, “I know you must be bored…”

…when in fact, what I’m sure he was thinking, “I’m nine and I know more about this than you do lady, so yeah, maybe I AM bored..”

— 7 —

Oh, people, I was a Junior Brown fan long before this.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Read Full Post »

Today is the memorial of St. Denis, bishop and martyr.  You can read about him here:

Missionary to Paris, France. First Bishop of Paris. His success roused the ire of local pagans, and he was imprisoned by Roman governor. Martyred in the persecutions of Valerius with Saint Rusticus and Saint Eleutherius. Legends have grown up around his torture and death, including one that has his body carrying his severed head some distance from his execution site. Saint Genevieve built a basilica over his grave. His feast was added to the Roman Calendar in 1568 by Pope Saint Pius V, though it had been celebrated since 800.

So that legend is why he is often portrayed holding his head, as in the Paris subway near the Basilica of St. Denis, here:

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

The Basilica of St. Denis stands outside the usual tourist track in Paris, but was really one of the most memorable sites we visited in our month there.  So absolutely worth the metro ride. It’s of great historical importance, first because it represents one of the first (if not the first) major expression of Gothic architecture, and secondly because of its role as the last resting place of the French monarchy.  

The Abbey of Saint Denis was the burial site of the kings of France for centuries and has thus been referred to as the “royal necropolis of France.” All but three of the monarchs of France from the 10th century until 1789 have their remains here. The abbey church contains some fine examples of cadaver tombs.

The effigies of many of the kings and queens are on their tombs, but during the French Revolution, these tombs were opened by workers under orders from revolutionary officials. The bodies were removed and dumped in two large pits nearby.

Archaeologist Alexandre Lenoir saved many of the monuments from the same revolutionary officials by claiming them as artworks for his Museum of French Monuments.

Napoleon Bonaparte reopened the church in 1806, but the royal remains were left in their mass graves. Following Napoleon’s first exile to Elba, the Bourbons briefly returned to power. They ordered a search for the corpses of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, which were found on January 21, 1815 and brought to St. Denis and buried in the crypt.

So the Basilica today is repository of funerary imagery….Pepin the Short, the Bourbons….everyone.  It’s fascinating.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

"amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

The absolutely most intriguing statuary to me were the two or three sets of married monarchs whose monuments had two elements: the king and queen in full worldy regalia, and then, the two of them represented laid out completely nude…as they came into the world, and as they went back into the earth:

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn""amy welborn"

I wrote a Living Faith devotion about it, here:

Louis XII and Anne of Brittany’s tomb is topped by images of them kneeling in prayer, fully dressed, but in a space below, we see them again, lying as in death, completely nude. It is a startling, sobering sight.

It’s also a sight that reminded me that living under the robes of any worldly honor, power or possession is a creature just like me. Only one king–gracefully born into that mortal flesh but wearing the crown of glory forever–deserves my worship, only one is truly Lord of my life now and for eternity.

Read Full Post »

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI beatified Newman, whose memorial is today, October 9, on his visit to England in 2010.  So naturally, on that visit, he had many interesting things to say about him:

In an interview on the plane to England:

He was a man of great spirituality, of humanity, of prayer, with a profound relationship with God, a personal relationship, and hence a deep relationship with the people of his time and ours. So I would point to these three elements: modernity in his life with the same doubts and problems of our lives today; his great culture, his knowledge of the treasures of human culture, openness to permanent search, to permanent renewal and, spirituality, spiritual life, life with God; these elements give to this man an exceptional stature for our time.

At the prayer vigil before the beatification:

Let me begin by recalling that Newman, by his own account, traced the course of his whole life back to a powerful experience of conversion which he had as a young man. It was an immediate experience of the truth of God’s word, of the objective reality of Christian revelation as handed down in the Church. This experience, at once religious and intellectual, would inspire his vocation to be a minister of the Gospel, his discernment of the source of authoritative teaching in the Church of God, and his zeal for the renewal of ecclesial life in fidelity to the apostolic tradition. At the end of his life, Newman would describe his life’s work as a struggle against the growing tendency to view religion as a purely private and subjective matter, a question of personal opinion. Here is the first lesson we can learn from his life: in our day, when an intellectual and moral relativism threatens to sap the very foundations of our society, Newman reminds us that, as men and women made in the image and likeness of God, we were created to know the truth, to find in that truth our ultimate freedom and the fulfilment of our deepest human aspirations. In a word, we are meant to know Christ, who is himself “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6).

Newman’s life also teaches us that passion for the truth, intellectual honesty and genuine conversion are costly. The truth that sets us free cannot be kept to ourselves; it calls for testimony, it begs to be heard, and in the end its convincing power comes from itself and not from the human eloquence or arguments in which it may be couched. Not far from here, at Tyburn, great numbers of our brothers and sisters died for the faith; the witness of their fidelity to the end was ever more powerful than the inspired words that so many of them spoke before surrendering everything to the Lord. In our own time, the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged, drawn and quartered but it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied. And yet, the Church cannot withdraw from the task of proclaiming Christ and his Gospel as saving truth, the source of our ultimate happiness as individuals and as the foundation of a just and humane society.

Finally, Newman teaches us that if we have accepted the truth of Christ and committed our lives to him, there can be no separation between what we believe and the way we live our lives. Our every thought, word and action must be directed to the glory of God and the spread of his Kingdom. Newman understood this, and was the great champion of the prophetic office of the Christian laity……more.

And then, of course the homily at the Mass:

While it is John Henry Newman’s intellectual legacy that has understandably received most attention in the vast literature devoted to his life and work, I prefer on this occasion to conclude with a brief reflection on his life as a priest, a pastor of souls. The warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry is beautifully expressed in another of his famous sermons: “Had Angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathized with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you” (“Men, not Angels: the Priests of the Gospel”, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 3). He lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison. No wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets as his body was taken to its place of burial not half a mile from here. One hundred and twenty years later, great crowds have assembled once again to rejoice in the Church’s solemn recognition of the outstanding holiness of this much-loved father of souls. What better way to express the joy of this moment than by turning to our heavenly Father in heartfelt thanksgiving, praying in the words that Blessed John Henry Newman placed on the lips of the choirs of angels in heaven:

Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise;
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways!
(The Dream of Gerontius).    .…more

This site offers more quotes from Benedict on Newman:

Conscience for Newman does not mean that the subject is the standard vis-à-vis the claims of authority in a truth less world, a world which lives from the compromise between the claims of the subject and the claims of the social order. Even more, conscience signifies the perceptible and demanding presence of the voice of truth in the subject himself. It is the overcoming of mere subjectivity in the encounter of the interiority of man with the truth from God. The verse Newman composed in 1833 in Sicily is characteristic: “I loved to choose and see my path but now, lead thou me on!” Newman’s conversion to Catholicism was not for him a matter of personal taste or of subjective, spiritual need. He expressed himself on this even in 1844, on the threshold, so to speak, of his conversion: “No one can have a more unfavourable view than I of the present state of Roman Catholics.” Newman was much more taken by the necessity to obey recognized truth than his own preferences – even against his own sensitivity and bonds of friendship and ties due to similar backgrounds. It seems to me characteristic of Newman that he emphasized the priority of truth over goodness in the order of virtues. Or, to put it in a way which is more understandable for us, he emphasized truth’s priority over consensus, over the accommodation of groups

Our book Be Saints! was inspired by another talk Benedict gave on this visit.  Read more about it here.

"amy welborn"

Read Full Post »

Ann Engelhart did an interview with the Brooklyn Diocese television network – it’s a great introduction to the book, with a peak into her studio.

For more about our books:

On our first, Friendship with Jesus.

The second, Be Saints!

Then last year’s release, Bambinelli Sunday

And finally, more about Adventures in Assisi here and here. 

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

Read Full Post »

Two years ago next month, my younger sons and I spent a few days in Assisi.  There’s no way I could have written Adventures in Assisi without that trip.  Here’s a bit more about the journey.

It was part of our massive, sort of crazy three months in Europe the fall of 2012.  Why did we go? Because we could and also because it was a way to force us all into homeschooling.  Pretty dramatic, eh?  I had been knowing that we should be homeschooling for a while, but they were a bit resistant, as was I (mostly for selfish reasons).

As the late winter of 2012 wore on, and I grew more and more dissatisfied with institutional school in general, the notion of a big journey took hold.  My father had passed away the preceding fall, I had the means, I was hitting 52 years old soon…why not?

So we did, and while during the trip, I always told the boys that they could certainly return to school in January…when it came time…they decided…nah. 

(For the record, two years later, my older son, who is 8th grade, is back in school, and it’s going great. The younger son is still home, in 4th grade, and might return to school in 6th…might.)

Anyway. 

"amy welborn"

Student protest passing by our apartment in Padua the morning we left for Assisi.

Not to recap the entire journey, but we had landed in Paris on September 11, spent almost 2 months in France – the first chunk in western France and Provence, and then October in Paris.  In early November, we left Paris on the train, spent a couple of days in Lausanne, Switzerland, then about a week in Padua and then finally…Assisi.  

(After Assisi, we were in Rome for 10 days, then…home.)

I really liked Assisi a lot, although it’s a bit of an odd place.

"amy welborn"

It’s your typical Italian hill town, in a way, but not, because it’s spotless to the point of antiseptic.  Ironically, no begging is allowed in Assisi.  For hundreds of years, pilgrimage has been the primary point of Assisi, and it shows – it works like clockwork, everything geared to the pilgrims.

The train station for Assisi is not actually in Assisi – it’s in Maria san Angeli at the bottom of the hill.

We arrived in the evening, caught a taxi and were taken up the hill. And then another. And then another, to our hotel.

I think I read later that the hotel had been a monastery in a previous life, and that explained a lot.  Well, at least it explained the bathroom.

"amy welborn"

You would not believe the contortions I had to go through to get this photo, but I was determined.

Obviously not original to the structure, obviously squeezed in.

Yes I was mean, and there was schoolwork done, in the top floor lounge, before we set out on our journeys.

"amy welborn"

He’s making an “A” in Algebra in 8th grade now, so I guess we did something right.

Assisi is…hilly.  You get quite a workout there.

"amy welborn"

Here’s where Francis was baptized – the Cathedral.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

This is the castle looming above the town.  The best views.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

The church of S. Chiara – this is the church of the Poor Clares, and is where the San Damiano cross is kept now. (no photos inside)

"amy welborn"

And this is San Damiano – the way down the hill from the town is lovely, lined with olive groves.  The church which Francis rebuilt, where he experienced the call of Christ in a profound way, and where the Poor Clares first lived and prayed, and where St. Clare died.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

The main piazza in the center of the town – Francis’s birthplace is on this square, hidden behind the tourism office.

"amy welborn"

The basilica, where the tomb of Francis is located, and of course, the site of the amazing frescoes by Giotto and others.  A place of profound prayer.

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

Playground outside Assisi walls

Then back to Santa Maria degli Angeli, the location of the Porziuncola, the site of one of the early settlements of the friars and the place where St. Francis died. (again, no inside photos allowed – but look up the images – the tiny church in the midst of the big basilica…)

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

I think of all the sites, being in that spot where Francis died in the midst of such physical suffering, his brotherhood already in some disarray,and pondering the  tension between humility, poverty of spirit and the majesty of the basilica..was the most thought-provoking.

Last year, I wrote about another encounter I had in Assisi, and its relation to the whole homeschooling thing…..

Read Full Post »

On this feast of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusians, you might want to read this talk that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave in 2011 at the Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno:

I chose to mention this socio-cultural condition because it highlights the specific charism of the Charterhouse as a precious gift for the Church and for the world, a gift that contains a deep message for our life and for the whole of humanity. I shall sum it up like this: by withdrawing into silence and solitude, human beings, so to speak, “expose” themselves to reality in their nakedness, to that apparent “void”, which I mentioned at the outset, in order to experience instead Fullness, the presence of God, of the most real Reality that exists and that lies beyond the tangible dimension. He is a perceptible presence in every creature: in the air that we breathe, in the light that we see and that warms us, in the grass, in stones…. God,Creator omnium, [the Creator of all], passes through all things but is beyond them and for this very reason is the foundation of them all.

The monk, in leaving everything, “takes a risk”, as it were: he exposes himself to solitude and silence in order to live on nothing but the essential, and precisely in living on the essential he also finds a deep communion with his brethren, with every human being.

Some might think that it would suffice to come here to take this “leap”. But it is not like this. This vocation, like every vocation, finds an answer in an ongoing process, in a life-long search. Indeed it is not enough to withdraw to a place such as this in order to learn to be in God’s presence. Just as in marriage it is not enough to celebrate the Sacrament to become effectively one but it is necessary to let God’s grace act and to walk together through the daily routine of conjugal life, so becoming monks requires time, practice and patience, “in a divine and persevering vigilance”, as St Bruno said, they “await the return of their Lord so that they might be able to open the door to him as soon as he knocks” (Letter to Rudolph “the Green”, n. 4); and the beauty of every vocation in the Church consists precisely in this: giving God time to act with his Spirit and to one’s own humanity to form itself, to grow in that particular state of life according to the measure of the maturity of Christ.

In Christ there is everything, fullness; we need time to make one of the dimensions of his mystery our own. We could say that this is a journey of transformation in which the mystery of Christi’s resurrection is brought about and made manifest in us, a mystery of which the word of God in the biblical Reading from the Letter to the Romans has reminded us this evening: the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and will give life to our mortal bodies also (cf. Rom 8:11) is the One who also brings about our configuration to Christ in accordance with each one’s vocation, a journey that unwinds from the baptismal font to death, a passing on to the Father’s house. In the world’s eyes it sometimes seems impossible to spend one’s whole life in a monastery but in fact a whole life barely suffices to enter into this union with God, into this essential and profound Reality which is Jesus Christ.

"amy welborn"This is why I have come here, dear Brothers who make up the Carthusian Community of Serra San Bruno, to tell you that the Church needs you and that you need the Church! Your place is not on the fringes: no vocation in the People of God is on the fringes. We are one body, in which every member is important and has the same dignity, and is inseparable from the whole. You too, who live in voluntary isolation, are in the heart of the Church and make the pure blood of contemplation and of the love of God course through your veins.

Stat Crux dum volvitur orbis [the cross is steady while the world is turning], your motto says. The Cross of Christ is the firm point in the midst of the world’s changes and upheavals. Life in a Charterhouse shares in the stability of the Cross which is that of God, of God’s faithful love. By remaining firmly united to Christ, like the branches to the Vine, may you too, dear Carthusian Brothers, be associated with his mystery of salvation, like the Virgin Mary whostabat (stood) beneath the Cross, united with her Son in the same sacrifice of love.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: