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Archive for the ‘7 Quick Takes’ Category

— 1 —

Traveling is so odd.  You go, you see places that you will probably never see again, and you walk in strange places.   A completely different experience of the world becomes a part of your experience, your worldview, your frame of mind.

And then you come back, and it’s as if you never left, and what happened a week ago floats somewhere between the distant past and a dream.

But it’s all still there, in your head, in your life.

Bigger now.

"amy welborn"

— 2 —

We’re back, but we don’t stay still.  We returned Monday night, the 13-year old went back to school on Tuesday, the 10-year old did a bit of school, had his homeschool boxing session, then they both had server practice for the Triduum in the afternoon. Wednesday, the 10-year old and I took a walk on a trail that’s not too far from my house but, I’m ashamed to say, I’d never even heard of before this week: The Irondale Furnace trail.

There’s a bit of a ruin along the trail, the ruin of an iron..processing? furnace, which was a part of a 2,000 acre mining and processing property that was burned up by the Yankees in 1863, rebuilt after the Civil War and used for about 15 years.  And now it’s a wall, a trail along a creek surrounded by a lot of high-end homes.

Talk about the distant past and dreams….

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— 3 —

Today, we went up 59 towards Gadsden to Tigers for Tomorrow. It’s a refuge for rescued animals, mostly cats, but also a few bears, wolves, and even some cavy.  I’d heard about it, and had been meaning to go for ages, but they are generally only open to the general public on weekends. But when Michael, still on Europe time, popped up awake super early, I decided we needed to go somewhere.  I looked this up and saw that they were doing some special Spring Break tours during weekdays, and for a reduced price, so we jumped in the car and drove up.

It was quite educational for both of us, and offered food for thought on issues related not only to endangered animals, but also animals in captivity and the relationship between animals and human beings.

(The animals come mostly from zoos, other refuges that close, and from people who had attempted to keep wild animals as pets. Always a grand idea.)

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— 4 —

We went to Mass on two Sundays in Spain.  Both had congregations of about thirty in attendance, minimal music,  fairly perfunctory ritual and (I just happened to notice) in both the Apostles’ Creed, not the Nicene was prayed.

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We just peaked into this church on the way to the museum on Sunday…don’t remember what it was.

— 5 —

Speaking of churches and such….check out this post from the New Liturgical Movement on veiling statues during Passiontide…two Birmingham churches are in the mix.

— 6 —

I did something new on this trip: I rented our apartment through AirBNB, and I was very pleased with the experience.

In previous trips both to Europe and in the US, I’ve rented via VRBO and just independently through owners and managers. I’ve never had a bad experience with any stay  – except that one time in Sicily, but that wasn’t an apartment, it was a B & B, sort of, and I violated by policy of not renting when there were no reviews, so it was pretty much my own fault, and in retrospect…the whole thing was pretty wacky.

With the apartments, everything has been fine, but I’ll say that the Airbnb process strikes me as a level above what I’ve previously experienced.  The owner/ manager has a full profile and reviews – and the profile is more substantive than the minimal VRBO profile.  If he or she has used Airbnb as a traveler, the reviews of those places are posted as well. You, as a renter have to provide enough information to prove that you do, indeed, exist as well, and the owner is given an opportunity to review you as well, sort of like Uber.

I understand there are issues with the growing business of vacation rentals. I’ve read of people essentially buying out entire apartment buildings and transforming them into Airbnb properties, which isn’t right, because you’re then running a hotel without having to abide by appropriate regulations and taxation requirements.  If I lived somewhere and my neighborhood was slowly but surely turning into party central because of vacation rentals, I’d be upset.

But. All I’m saying is that the process of renting through Airbnb gave me an added sense of security above what I’d experienced with VRBO or independently, and I will definitely use them again!

(One of my older sons had used Airbnb the week before our trip, and had similar observations about the process. He was pleased.)

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Some teachers give homework over spring break….

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…but the nice ones don’t.

— 7 —

Do you want books for Easter gifts? For First Communion? For a new Catholic?

Got it!

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— 1 —

It’s nice to be in a place with actual, functioning public transportation.

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— 2 —

When you ascend the Ventas Metro stop, this is what greets you:

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Beautiful building, horrible “sport.”  IMHO.

H— 3 —

This statue celebrates a famed bullfighter – one side showing him triumphant, the other side, an angel weeping by the side of a bench holding his matador suit…the sign reads, “Died a matador, born an angel.”

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— 4 —

We then hopped back on the metro, and this time when we ascended, we saw this:

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— 5 —

I paid for the tour – three of us have zero interest in soccer, and the fourth has some, only because it’s a sport, and sports are his passion.  I was willing to pay for this tour because I figured that while some of us can enter into a culture via its food, history or religion, others might enter more deeply into it via sports.

It was very high tech – impressive.

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And the tour took you through the dressing rooms and down to the field as well..

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— 6 —

Afterwards, down to the Reina Sofia Museum, where we saw Picasso’s Guernica  – which we’d studied a bit before the trip – and other works. No photos, of course, but this is the view of the Atocha train station from the front of the museum.

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And then to the huge El Corte Ingles store off the Gran Via, just to look..this is the view from the roof.

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— 7 —

Starting to think about First Communion gifts?

Try these…

And since it’s Friday….

John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross, published by Ave Maria Press.  This, again, is available as an actual book and in a digital version, in this case as an app.  Go here for more information. (The illustrations are by Michael O’Brien)

"amy welborn"

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— 1 —

Another quiet week at the homefront.  Basketball, roof repair (finally!), brick-n-mortar school schedules and coldish weather keep us close to home these days.  But in a couple more weeks….we’re free! (-ish)

— 2 —

This week, I’ve been reading Captive Paradise, which is a history of Hawaii.  No, we’re not going there (although I’d love to!) – I’m just on a kick.  I read a history of the leper colony at Molokai, and this was on the “new releases” shelf at the library.  And then, as I started reading it, I noted that the author was talking about charging up against politically correct interpretations of history, and I was all in. 

I adore revisionist history – from any angle. I’ve always been just as interested in historiography as I am in history – may I blame my 9th grade history course at Knoxville Catholic High School which used a curriculum that was all about primary sources and interpretation?  Perhaps.  I’ll have more about it when I finish, but at this point, I’m really interested in the various interpretations of pre- and post-contact island life.

Although since everyone’s  – seriously, EVERYONE’S –  name  begins with “K,” I admit that I’ve given up on the details. Big Picture, people.  Big Picture.

— 3 —

Speaking of historiography, tonight while I was running , I listened to this week’s In Our Time, which was about the 4th century BC Indian king, Ashoka.  Ashoka is famed for converting to Buddhism and attempting to shape his kingdom according to Buddhist ethics.  What was fascinating about this program was the straight-up disagreement between the historians.  First we had two (young female) historians who told the story of Ashoka pretty straightforwardly, admitting a bit of ambivalence about the sources, but really not too much.  Then comes the Old Boy who basically says everything that’s been said so far is BS because reliable primary sources are non-existent.  Awkward!  It was a fascinating listen, not only for that but also to learn about later (and present-day) Hindu-dominated India’s neglect and outright ignoring of the Buddhist king who abhorred the caste system.

— 4 —

Speaking of my exercise…

I run/walk in a facility that has a track floating above a gym.

(Running around a track is certainly rat-in-a-maze-like, but it strikes me that doing a treadmill would be worse. So 80 laps it is!)

Last year, during intramural basketball season, I took note of a particular team and a particular coach, and I’m stupidly happy to be able to have them in my sights again this year as I run in circles above their games.

They are teenagers, and their coach is one of them – they’re maybe 16/17 years old.  But the thing is – and this is what I noticed last year – the kid who coaches…wears a tie, every single game.  Sometimes he sports a jacket it with it, and other times a sweater vest, but whatever, it’s hysterical.  I love it.  He stands at the sidelines like he’s Rick Paterno in his jacket and tie, coaching his friends, while the other side is coached by some dad being all casual in shorts and a t-shirt, and tonight, when they were losing by a lot, he grabbed someone’s jersey, threw it over his vest and tie, and put himself in the game for the last two minutes.

Everyone thinks they’re doing it like an individual…but only some of us actually are.

— 5 —

I was thinking I would try to do a learning post for Melanie this week, but with a writing deadline,  basketball on Saturday and a birthday party on Sunday, that’s not happening. So for now, I’ll just mention a couple of things:

This past week, Michael read this book, which is part of a 3-book series: Michael at the Invasion of France.  I am a firm believer in the “living books” pedagogy of history, either with non-fiction or historical fiction, and this was a great example of how well this works  It’s an excellent book (Joseph had read it a few years ago) about a boy involved in the French Resistance.  Her “author’s note” at the end about the role of children in the Resistance actually made me choke up a bit as I read it.

(My) Michael read it and then we’ve spent a couple of days working through the study materials Calkoven herself provides – background material as well as questions that (my) Michael discussed with me and wrote about.  Ample opportunity to discuss, not only the specifics of history but also issues of loyalty, authority, and resistance as well.

Last year at some point, I had let our subscriptions to the Cricket-group magazines lapse, but I recently renewed them – we subscribe to Muse, Dig, Odyssey and Calliope. Well, they all came this week…so there was a lot of “Go read some of the magazines.”  And I don’t even have to add , “And come talk to me about them,” because it’s like a tic with him.  As I’ve written before “narration” is a central aspect of the Charlotte Mason pedagogy, but with this one, I don’t even have to try.  I get narrated all. Freaking. Day. Long. 

— 6 —

So this happened this week:

I had purchased this book – Gods and Heroes in Art.  We have a couple of the saints-related titles  in the series, and they’re good, so since Michael is deep in the Percy Jackson books (again), I thought I’d add this to our considerable mythology collection.  I have lots of historical material, but nothing else specifically related to art.

We were leafing through it, and he paused at the “Perseus” entry.

“Wait,” he said, “I’ve seen that.  Isn’t that at our museum?”

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Find the credits.

Why, yes it is.

If you had asked me? Not in a million years would I have remembered ever seeing that painting before in my entire life.

I mean…what? 10. Years. Old. Barely.

Now. Can you please remember to put your shoes in your closet? 

Thnx.

— 7 —

 (Repeat from last week and the week before…but…still pertinent)

Lent is coming!  Full list of resources here, but take special note today, if you don’t mind, of these Stations of the Cross..and pass it on to your parish!

John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross, published by Ave Maria Press.  This, again, is available as an actual book and in a digital version, in this case as an app.  Go here for more information. (The illustrations are by Michael O’Brien)

"amy welborn"A few years ago, I wrote a Stations of the Cross for young people called No Greater Love,  published by Creative Communications for the Parish. They put it out of print for a while…but now it’s back!

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— 1 —

Lent is coming!  Full list of resources here, but take special note today, if you don’t mind, of these Stations of the Cross..and pass it on to your parish!

John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross, published by Ave Maria Press.  This, again, is available as an actual book and in a digital version, in this case as an app.  Go here for more information. (The illustrations are by Michael O’Brien)

"amy welborn"A few years ago, I wrote a Stations of the Cross for young people called No Greater Love,  published by Creative Communications for the Parish. They put it out of print for a while…but now it’s back!

amy-welborn4

— 2 —

Podcast listening?  Not much of great interest this past week, since I’m mostly concentrating on that Couch to 5k thing.  I’m up to Week 8! 28 minutes! (But that’s on an indoor track – we’ll see what happens when I am able to go outdoors again, given the harder surfaces and more, er, varied terrain outside.

So, Melvin lost me this week with Phenomenology. I tried – I really did, but listening to philosophy talk about Husserl, Heidegger and meaning through earphones while running with youth basketball going on below was pretty much a lost cause.  What was interesting was this program on Zola in England.  After the Dreyfus trial, Zola fled to London – by doing so, he enabled keeping the case open.  While in England, he began work on his last series of books, the first of which was called Fecundity or Fruitfulness – and, although Zola is a hard slog (I read Lourdes – barely), the premise is fascinating and timely – in which Zola blames oppressive social and economic systems for discouraging the lower classes from reproducing, decrying contraception, abortion and child abandonment….

— 3 —

I’m currently reading The Colony, which is about the history of the leper colony at Molokai. The origins of the place are so sad, an example of incompetent and deceptive government action in the face of tragedy.

Related, but somewhat contrasting is this fascinating story that provided me with a brief excursion down the rabbit hole this past week:

In 1803, King Charles of Spain ordered an extraordinary expedition: Smallpox was, of course, taking a terrible toll on the Spanish colonies so…..

On September 1, 1803, King Charles IV of Spain, who had lost one of his own children to smallpox, issued a royal order to all royal officers and religious authorities in his American and Asian domains, announcing the arrival of a vaccination expedition and commanding their support to

  • vaccinate the masses free of charge,
  • teach the domains how to prepare the smallpox vaccine, and
  • organize municipal vaccination boards throughout the domains to record the vaccinations performed and to keep live serum for future vaccinations.

The expedition to vaccinate the population in South America against smallpox was a public health undertaking of staggering proportions. A small group set out by ship and horse to traverse present-day Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Bolivia, carrying the vaccine and administering it in villages and cities along the way. The territory was not only vast but also brutally harsh, with precipitous mountains, dense jungles, and uncharted rivers. The expedition traveled in primitive riverboats and on mules when the terrain was too rugged for horses.

First Destination: Puerto Rico

The María Pita left the Spanish harbor of La Coruña on November 30, 1803, with the smallpox vaccination expedition team consisting of a director, Dr. Francisco Xavier Balmis; an assistant director, Dr. Jóse Salvany Lleopart; and several assistants and paramedics. The ship reached Puerto Rico in February 1804 with its cargo of vaccine serum preserved between sealed glass plates; also onboard were 21 children from the orphanage at La Coruña who carried the vaccine through arm-to-arm vaccinations performed sequentially during the ship’s journey, and thousands of copies of a treatise describing how to vaccinate and preserve the serum, recounts José Rigau-Pérez in an article on the smallpox vaccine in Puerto Rico.

More here and here. 

— 4 —

I’m going to try to do a learning post tonight, but in short, this week was a week of lots of science (properties of matter, heat transfer), art (printmaking) and puzzles (logic chapter of Beast Academy)

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Also, here’s a fun thing:  Hit the Lego store when the staff is unpacking a shipment and you just might find yourself the recipient of big bags of random pieces they don’t have room to stock in those bins on the back wall….and it might be your lucky day.

— 5 —

Through reading H. Allen’s Smith’s The Pig in the Barber Shop, I discovered a book called Father Juniper and the General, "amy welborn"written in the late 50’s by another American ex-pat in Mexico named James Norman.  It’s in the Don Camillo – Father Malachy genre – priest does battle with and outwits local civil/social authorities, and it’s amusing.  I’m surprised I’d never heard of it, considering I thought I’d read or at least heard of every vaguely Catholic themed middle-brow book published in the US in the mid=century when I was editing the Loyola Classics, but apparently not!

— 6 —

I actually accompanied my kids to the movies the other day (they are old enough to go on their own, together now) – Big Hero 6, which was…good!  As usual with movies today (get off my lawn!) the climactic battle goes on waaaaay too long, but the setting – a mythical more Far Eastern version of San Francisco – was fascinating and the animated characters were surprisingly well individuated.

Speaking of movies: over the holiday weekend, we watched Strangers on a Train, which I enjoyed for some fantastic set-pieces and Robert Walker’s compelling performance, and didn’t enjoy for the mostly-stiff other performances and off-putting amoral tone surrounding the murder of Granger’s wife and the “happy ending” of him and his paramour.  I just thought that was so weird.

Also, The Trouble With Angels, which I hadn’t seen in a while, but is so good. Still. I had remembered the Hayley Mills’ character’s embrace of religious life as more of a surprise, and while it is a bit of a twist, the really observant viewer can see it coming, and her spiritual discomfort and awakening is sketched rather well, as she confronts her own fears about getting old and dying , encounters mercy again and again in the Rosalind Russel’s Mother Superior, and observes the ties of family among the sisters, a kind of family she’s never experienced herself.  It’s based on a memoir called Life With Mother Superior by Jane Trahey, a female pioneer in advertising, and the Hayley Mills character is based on a friend of hers who really did go on to become a Dominican Sinsinawa! 

— 7 —

 

Better Call Saul actually looks like it might be…good.  When it was first floated, I thought, “Oh, no….” and when it was announced as a thing, I thought, “Not a good idea.”  But in reading about the show’s premise, in which there are actually emotional stakes at work and seeing previews, I’m getting excited.  I’ve read a couple of reviewers who opine that it’s better than BB…hard to imagine,but… Love the logo!

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— 1 —

.Then there was the night the tree fell on my house….

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— 2 —

Last Saturday night, some big storms swept through here, and about 7:45, we heard and felt a serious THUD.  I could see some branches from the back patio glass doors, and thought it was just that – branches.  Until I ventured further and saw..no it was A TREE.

It’s not too bad.  Exterior damage and a little bit of damage inside a closet.  As the tree guy said, “It could have been worse.” (It usually could have, in anything. Remember that.) Specifically, if this were a newer home, it probably would have taken that whole wall out.

The good thing about homeowner’s insurance is that at this point, the adjustor and the roofing guy are figuring it out, so most of the time, I forget that it even happened.

— 3 —

10-year old has been bumped up in his music lessons – out of regular leveled curricula into mo’ serious stuff.  Bach’s First Invention, a Beethoven Sonatina.  It’s a transition, to be sure, so to ease it, I’m going Suzuki for a while and practicing the pieces myself, as well as adding in my favorite Invention from lessons past - #4.

— 4 —

Podcasts, podcasts…well, I’m still focused on Couch to 5k, and have finished week 7, still alive – running 25 minutes at a time. It’s probably deceptive though, since it’s on an indoor track. Once the weather warms up again (57/8 is my threshold for outdoor running. *Wimp*), I’ll take it back outside and we’ll see how I cope on the slightly hilly course I usually take.

Other than that, recently, I listened to the Great Lives podcasts on Louisa May Alcott and Dorothy Sayers and finally got in the last episode of the really excellent 3-part series called Global Classical Music – A New World Symphony an exploration of the explosion in popularity of Western Classical music outside of Europe. Really worth a listen, and the last moments, in which an Indian teacher explains the importance of this music – without denigrating his own important musical traditions – moves into the final strains of (of course) Dvorak’s New World Symphony  – are quite moving.

— 5 —

The only field trip we took this week was a short, but meaningful one  – to the research branch of our Central public library downtown. The research building, connected by an above-the-street walkway to the newer building, was actually the original public library.  It boasts some wonderful murals which you can read about  – and see better versions than I was able to photograph – here. I found the murals in the former children’s room particularly lovely.  A different world.

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View down into main research room.

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Closer view of mural in children’s room – fairy tales and such.

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Long view of former children’s room at Birmingham Library.

— 6 —

 I read Dawn Powell’s A Time to Be Born this week.  I generally enjoyed it – it was enjoyable mean in its depiction of highflown self-important New York media culture before the war (supposedly, one of the central characters is modeled on Clare Booth Luce, although Powell always denied it), but I found it a bit padded.

The other day in a used bookstore I picked up a copy of H. Allen Smith’s The Pig in the Barber Shop a travelogue of a trip to Mexico, published in 1958. I love old travel books – I find them to be an interesting way to read history, and I especially am always on the lookout for descriptions of Catholic Stuff, descriptions which are far more helpful in understanding the past than the presumptions and ideological narratives of the present.

Smith was a prolific journalist whom I only know because of his book, and the movie based upon it, Rhubarb, about a cat who inherits a baseball team.  I think I read that book half a dozen times as a kid.

I’m enjoying this one – and bonus – I opened it up, and found that it was signed by Smith!

— 7 —

 LENT IS COMING. 

Get your resources here!!

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  1. My son had a piano recital last weekend.  He reported:”You know that thin girl who played after the two bigger girls? Well, she was backstage talking, and do you know what she was talking about? She was talking all about The Illuminati. She was saying that the Illuminati were behind 9/11 and Apple was run by the Illuminati because the price of the first Ipad or something was 666 dollars or something and that the Illuminati are sending a message through that ‘What Does the Fox Say’ song because the sounds that one of the animals make is the Latin word for ‘destroy.’

    “Oh….”

    “And then when she was done, do you know what the other two girls started talking about?”

    “No…”

    “My Little Pony.”

    2.  Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The devotional for today in Living Faith was written by moi.  You can check it out here - Living Faith has started posting all of their devotions online on that designated day.  "amy welborn"

    Also…if you’re thinking you want to learn more about the Blessed Mother…check out my free e-book, Mary and the Christian Life.  

    3.  Still time for Christmas shopping - if I could recommend….The Catholic Woman’s Book of Days for..a woman?  Or Bambinelli Sunday or Adventures in Assisi  – signed by both Ann Engelhart and I – for a child.  Any of my/our children’s books for your favorite catechist or parish library.  The How to Book of the Mass for someone you know thinking about returning to the Church this Christmas.

    "amy welborn"Reminder:  I have all of Ann’s and mine books in stock, signed by both of us.  If you have trouble with Paypal, shoot me an email at amywelborn60 -at – gmail.com

    4. Speaking of Bambinelli Sunday – it’s this weekend.  You can hear Ann and I talking about our books with Monsignor Jim Lisante all over the Catholic radio, including the Catholic Channel on Sirius XM. This weekend’s Bookmark on EWTN is also with us.

    5.  Quick learning notes:   I recommend the Khan Academy videos on music.  Even though my 10-year old knows his musical notation, it was useful to watch these videos, which review notation, and then demonstrate the principles with various musical scores.  Really good.  We’re slowly working our way through the videos about musical instruments, as well.

    6.  I had a book signing last weekend at the Ave Maria Grotto bookshop – if you’ve ever passed the signs for the Grotto on I-65 and thought about stopping in…do it!  I’ve been a few times before, but really, it’s an amazing treasure of replicas of Catholic sites throughout the globe built with found materials.  It’s not cheesy, it’s wonderful.  At the book signing, I met a group of sisters who have recently settled in Cullman and are helping out at the school and with other ministries, I assume.  Young, enthusiastic…adding to the very interesting Catholic mix of central Alabama.

    7. Math with snake. #homeschool.

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Today’s their feastday.  Back in 2006, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke about them at a General Audience, part of a series on the Apostles:

Simon is given a nickname that varies in the four lists: while Matthew and Mark describe him as a “Cananaean”, Luke instead describes him as a “Zealot”.

In fact, the two descriptions are equivalent because they mean the same thing: indeed, in Hebrew the verb qanà’ means “to be jealous, ardent” and can be said both of God, since he is jealous with regard to his Chosen People (cf. Ex 20: 5), and of men who burn with zeal in serving the one God with unreserved devotion, such as Elijah (cf. I Kgs 19: 10).

Thus, it is highly likely that even if this Simon was not exactly a member of the nationalist movement of Zealots, he was at least marked by passionate attachment to his Jewish identity, hence, for God, his People and divine Law.

If this was the case, Simon was worlds apart from Matthew, who, on the contrary, had an activity behind him as a tax collector that was frowned upon as entirely impure. This shows that Jesus called his disciples and collaborators, without exception, from the most varied social and religious backgrounds.

It was people who interested him, not social classes or labels! And the best thing is that in the group of his followers, despite their differences, they all lived side by side, overcoming imaginable difficulties: indeed, what bound them together was Jesus himself, in whom they all found themselves united with one another.

This is clearly a lesson for us who are often inclined to accentuate differences and even contrasts, forgetting that in Jesus Christ we are given the strength to get the better of our continual conflicts.

Let us also bear in mind that the group of the Twelve is the prefiguration of the Church, where there must be room for all charisms, peoples and races, all human qualities that find their composition and unity in communion with Jesus.

st.  Simon St. Jude

Then with regard to Jude Thaddaeus, this is what tradition has called him, combining two different names: in fact, whereas Matthew and Mark call him simply “Thaddaeus” (Mt 10: 3; Mk 3: 18), Luke calls him “Judas, the son of James” (Lk 6: 16; Acts 1: 13).

The nickname “Thaddaeus” is of uncertain origin and is explained either as coming from the Aramaic, taddà’, which means “breast” and would therefore suggest “magnanimous”, or as an abbreviation of a Greek name, such as “Teodòro, Teòdoto”.

Very little about him has come down to us. John alone mentions a question he addressed to Jesus at the Last Supper: Thaddaeus says to the Lord: “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us and not to the world?”.

This is a very timely question which we also address to the Lord: why did not the Risen One reveal himself to his enemies in his full glory in order to show that it is God who is victorious? Why did he only manifest himself to his disciples? Jesus’ answer is mysterious and profound. The Lord says: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn 14: 22-23).

This means that the Risen One must be seen, must be perceived also by the heart, in a way so that God may take up his abode within us. The Lord does not appear as a thing. He desires to enter our lives, and therefore his manifestation is a manifestation that implies and presupposes an open heart. Only in this way do we see the Risen One.

The paternity of one of those New Testament Letters known as “catholic”, since they are not addressed to a specific local Church but intended for a far wider circle, has been attributed to Jude Thaddaeus. Actually, it is addressed “to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (v. 1).

A major concern of this writing is to put Christians on guard against those who make a pretext of God’s grace to excuse their own licentiousness and corrupt their brethren with unacceptable teachings, introducing division within the Church “in their dreamings” (v. 8).

This is how Jude defines their doctrine and particular ideas. He even compares them to fallen angels and, mincing no words, says that “they walk in the way of Cain” (v. 11).

Furthermore, he brands them mercilessly as “waterless clouds, carried along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever” (vv. 12-13).

Today, perhaps, we are no longer accustomed to using language that is so polemic, yet that tells us something important. In the midst of all the temptations that exist, with all the currents of modern life, we must preserve our faith’s identity. Of course, the way of indulgence and dialogue, on which the Second Vatican Counsel happily set out, should certainly be followed firmly and consistently.

But this path of dialogue, while so necessary, must not make us forget our duty to rethink and to highlight just as forcefully the main and indispensable aspects of our Christian identity. Moreover, it is essential to keep clearly in mind that our identity requires strength, clarity and courage in light of the contradictions of the world in which we live.

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