Archive for the ‘Friendship with JEsus’ Category

For those of you in more normal parts of the world, you’re thinking, What? That’s not right…we’ve got a month left!

Not the case down here, where school starts well before Labor Day.

My son will be starting high school, and his orientation is a week from today, classes begin on the 10th.

(The satisfaction comes on the other end – his last day of class will be May 20. Some of you were posting “LAST DAY OF SCHOOL” photos when we’d already been out a month. So there.)

Yesterday I pulled the calendar out and started the ritual Marking-Up of Life.  The high school’s calendar, altar serving schedule, homeschool (5th grader) activities, writing deadlines…and I was thinking about all of this and what parts of the uniform are left to buy and if all the textbooks have arrived and what resources I need to order for the homeschooler and then I thought


And I got a little irritated until, once again, I remembered the merry month of May – we were done with school by May 14 this year and managed to do the Wild West Trip (story still to be finished!) before June.

Our travels for the rest of this summer have been mostly regional – well, all regional.  I had thought of doing a road trip to Philadelphia and Boston for, well, right now, but circumstances intervened, and that won’t be happening. So we are just hanging out here, reading, going to the pool, and getting ready for school. So some notes.


  • Are you planning adult education? Consider these resources.

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  • Are you teaching First Communion children this year? Take a look at Friendship with Jesus and Be Saints. 
  • Are you teaching religion to elementary age students? Friendship with Jesus, Be Saints, Bambinelli Sunday, Adventures in Assisi, The Loyola Kids’ Book of Saints, The Loyola Kids’ Book of Heroes. 
  • Can you help catechists, Catholic schools and parish programs?  Consider gifting your parish, school or favorite catechist with copies of these books.  Click on the covers for more information.

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I have copies of the picture books on hand – in my bookstore.  In fact, I have a lot of them!  If you are interested in bulk orders, contact me – we can make a deal!

Again – even if catechesis isn’t something you are personally involved in, any catechist, parish school, library or program would welcome a donation as a beginning-of-the-year (no matter when it begins…) gift.

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— 1 —

Well, that was interesting – and let’s hope that “was” remains the pertinent verb.

No internet or landline for almost a week.  Yes, we had data on the Ipad, but I didn’t want to burn through that, plus I don’t have a keyboard and really don’t like actually typing/working on the thing.

I hope the situation is finally resolved – I thought it was late yesterday morning, but then it went out again last night…and here it is back on again this morning.

It’s been a good – excellent – exercise in patience and priorities and a lesson in putting small (really) inconviences like this into perspective.  Not joking or being ironic here!

— 2 —

Danielle Bean was here!  She was taping a couple of EWTN shows, including At Home with Jim and Joy yesterday, so I ran over during her break and before my afternoon running about and said hello in person at last. 

— 3 —

10-year old started a Kabelevsky piece this week, so we spent some time yesterday listening to the Kabelevsky section at Classics for Kids.  If you’ve never seen (heard) it, check it out – it might be the best classical music-for-children site out there.  It’s centered around recorded radio programs – tons of them – but there are a lot of excellent printables as well.

— 4 —

Finally set up a hummingbird feeder too, and lo – one came!  We had a feeder at the old house, but with zero success, so it’s a good sign that we had it up a day, and already had a customer.  All nature, every animal is amazing, but hummingbirds are something else.

We also put up the regular bird feeder, and I tell you – as a person who’s never had a bird feeder up at any house she’s lived in her entire life  – this is one of the best educational tools you can have.  Up until this point, the only birds we had noticed in our yard were the usual – cardinals, jays, crows and robins.  Now, all sorts of critters are appearing, and books have been checked out, morphologies and taxonomies studies, and a journal begun:

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— 5 —

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Ever heard of Sylacauga marble?  Well, it’s one of the major types of marble found in the United States, and it’s found about 40 miles southeast of Birmingham, in Sylacauga.

We had visited the town before, and seen the quarry and toured the Blue Bell ice cream plant, but this time we went down for the festival. (This being last week….I had written this to be pubished last Friday until..well, you know.) 

Perhaps there is more “fest” to the festival on the weekends, but in going down during the week, the major thing we wanted to see were the artists at work.

Thirty artists are set up in tents for two weeks –two weeks! – where they work on their pieces in marble.

As it happens, one of the artists this year is the husband of blogger and long-time commenter Nancy Ewing, and so we were able to meet him and gain some insight into the challenges and fruits of working with this stone.  It was excellent exposure to a new type of artistic endeavor for the ten-year old.

As I said, that was last week.  No travels this week because (not kidding) every day we had to be at home waiting for a tech person.  Five visits this week.  Next week, however, there’s a short jaunt planned. 8th grader has an overnight class trip, so the 10-year old and I will venture out to an another location…

— 6 —

Beast Academy 4D is finally here!  On deck: multiplying and dividing fractions, decimals, and probability.  We’ll stretch this one out as long as possible with other resources and ample Khan Academy.

Have I mentioned this before? I don’t think so.  This is an excellent series – well, we only have one book, but I assume the whole series is good – published by Oxford –  The World in Ancient Times.  It’s exactly what I was looking for: very solid content that’s at advanced kid level but doesn’t repeat what every other book on pre-Columbian cultures say. The perspective is not omniscient-expert-for-unknown-reasons.  Every chapter starts with archaeology and examines what we think might be true from the evidence at hand.  I wish there were study guides for every book, but unfortunately, that is only the case for the book on the Romans.  It’s okay – we get excellent use on the volume on the Americas.

— 7 —

Looking for gifts for First Communion? Mother’s Day? Confirmation?

Got it!



For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

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I still have a stock of books signed by Ann Engelhart from when she was here back in November doing school visits and EWTN.  So…if you like, order some!


And for Confirmation/Graduation….


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For your First Communicant.  For your students, if you’re a catechist, DRE or pastor:


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More here.

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I have a lot of copies of the picture books on hand:

Bambinelli Sunday (thinking ahead!)

Adventures in Assisi

Friendship with Jesus

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At this point, I still have copies that will be signed by both illustrator Ann Engelhart and me.  

Let me say a word in support of the last two books. Potential purchasers and gift-givers might be hesitating to purchase these books because they feature, not the current Pope, but Pope Emeritus Benedict, and hence seem dated.

They’re not!

The content is simply the words of Benedict – in the case of Be Saints  – interspersed with quotes from saints – go to the link to see sample pages  – explaining the Eucharist or holiness.  The illustrations center on contemporary children doing things children do – playing, learning, praying.

So take a look!

Also, if you would are interested in buying any of these books in bulk, email me and we can talk about special pricing.

(Also…new Catholic gift? Confirmation? Mother’s Day?)

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— 1 —

Chatter here and there this week about “progress” and “not going back” and “moving forward.”

Well…here’s the thing.

That paradigm of perceptible institutional “progress” or evaluating the Church in terms of “backwardness” or “forwardness” is not something that is a part of discourse about the Church, historically speaking.

Yes, there’s teleology and eschatology, all of which look forward in time to all things being reconciled in Christ and the purpose for which Creation was made fulfilled, but that is not the same thing as looking at the Body of Christ as it exists and is expressed in time and space and saying, “We should go backwards” or “backwards is bad” or “we need to keep moving forward.”

Because…what’s the reference point?

Reform happens in the Church, constantly. Some great saints were fearless, misunderstood, and sometimes persecuted reformers.  But perhaps it might be helpful and useful to consider what those saints themselves said about what they were about and why.  You just don’t see that paradigm which assumes “progress” in history at work.  Yes, you see lives that express movement, activity, change, breaking down, building up, and going forth.  But the framework is not “We can’t go backwards to the bad old days” or even “We must return to the good old days,” because both of those make idols of points of space and time. No, you see something else: you see a call to deeper fidelity to Christ, a more profound attention to Apostolic tradition (because “apostolic”, unlike “pre-Decretum Gratiani”  or “Scholastic” or “between the First and Second Lateran Councils” or “early Celtic monastic” or “post-Vatican II” is actually in the Creed.), purification, and, per the prophets, penance.

Perhaps in the end, it all means the same thing?

I don’t know.  I can’t say.  But language matters, and the notion  of “progress” as a Mark of the Church with some random, preferred point in history as a reference point is…different. And not, in case you were wondering, dogmatic.

— 2 —

Homeschool moment:

Picking out “Canis Major” by Robert Frost for consideration.  He read it aloud, we discussed its meaning.  He picked on of the stanzas for his copywork, and after he was done, we cracked open some books and read about the constellation and Sirius.

Fifteen minutes, but it’s moments like that that move the day from pretty good to lovely.

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— 3 —

Finished Beast Academy 4C……with a very strong unit on integers, including negatives.  Once again, I was impressed by the genius of the workbook. The problems and puzzles are written and structured just right, so that after a couple of pages, the kid has moved to sort of getting it to mastery.

Unfortunately 4D isn’t out yet, so we will fill in the waiting with a Life of Fred book and perhaps some work from the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching, which the BA guys recommend as a supplement or fallback.

— 4 —

Also the past couple of weeks? Had a very intense few days of basketball, which wrapped up that season for both of them…and no spring sports, except, I think, me attempting one more time to get everyone on the tennis court.  Science center homeschool class on Weather, so we pulled those chapters out of the 4th grade science book and did more on that subject.  Older, non-homeschooling son had a chance to serve as a page in the Alabama House earlier this week. Schola practice at the Cathedral.  Beginning serving practice for the Triduum liturgies at the convent. Reading I, Juan de Pareja, using this very good study guide. (I used a Glencoe guide when he read Number the Stars a couple of weeks ago and was impressed with it as well.) Evening reading-out-loud, Don Quixote. Studing a lot about Velasquez, Goya, Picasso, El Greco, Bosch and Miro.


— 5 —

Some random links:

If you live in Alabama, getting involved in the Society of St. Andrew – dedicated to gleaning “imperfect” produce is a fun and very helpful activity – we participated in a sweet potato drop last fall, and hope to do more as spring and summer progress.  If you live in the middle part of the state, there are two opportunities to help coming up. 

First Folios on tour!  The Folger Library is sending some copies of this first edition of Shakespeare’s plays on a touring exhibit over the next year.  I’m happy to see that Montgomery, home of the excellent Alabama Shakespeare Festival, has made the cut. 

— 6 —

Tom McDonald runs a nice series on “How I Pray” over at Patheos.  I’m this week’s interview.  Go here.

— 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)

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For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum

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Remember, I have books here.  If you order in the next day and shoot me a bit extra for Priority (shipping by Media Mail is built into the cost on the website), you can probably get it by Christmas, unless you live in Prague or something.


For women (mom, sister, teacher, daughter) – The Catholic Woman’s Book of Days

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For kids

(The first four below will be signed by both artist Ann Engelhart and by me)

Bambinelli Sunday

Adventures in Assisi

Friendship With Jesus

Be Saints!

Loyola Kids’ Book of Heros 

(currently out of Saints …but of course you can get it elsewhere.)


The Words We Pray

Wish You Were Here

The How to Book of the Mass

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist

(the last two might be good for someone you know who is inspired by the season to start coming back to church…

Again…the bookstore.  Here. Questions? Expedited shipping?  Email me at amywelborn60 – AT – gmail.

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Well, Ann Engelhart and I had a great time over the past few days. We visited, ate good southern food, taped an EWTN Bookmark (to air on 12/14…Bambinelli Sunday!), recorded some conversations between the two of us that we hope to turn into podcasts, did presentations at four different Catholic schools (Saint Rose Academy, Saint Francis Xavier, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Saint Barnabas -pictured below), and I had Ann sign a zillion books.

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The bookstore is open for business.  I don’t have all of my books available – I don’t have any Prove Its in stock, for example.  But I do have all of our collaborations, the saints books, Wish You Were Here, The Catholic Woman’s Book of Days, The Words We Pray, The How To Book of the Mass, and a few more. 

At this point – until the stock runs out – all of the Welborn/Engelhart collaborations are signed by both of us.  I will add a personalization, if you like. Just indicate so when you order.

If you have any problem ordering, email me at amywelborn60 – at – gmail-dot-com.

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All prices include shipping.  Shipping is via Media Mail, so keep the slightly slower pace of that in mind when you order.  Also remember that shipping costs include tracking as well as purchasing of shipping supplies.  If you buy all four of the Welborn/Englehart books…free shipping!

I’ll be shipping for the rest of the year, with a break for Thanksgiving week.


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(Click for a larger version.  Feel free to reproduce and share with your local Catholic bookstore or religious ed program…seriously!)

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Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I have published four books with water color artist Ann Engelhart, including the latest, Adventures in Assisi.

The story of our collaboration goes back years – probably to about 2006 or 7, I’m thinking, when we were still living in Fort Wayne.  I received an email from this artist from Long Island who said she’d been reading my blog for a long time and that she, like I, had been profoundly affected by the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.   She had read a dialogue Benedict had held with First Communicants in Rome and thought that the conversation would make a wonderful children’s book.  Would I be interested in working with her on it?

I have to be honest with you and admit that I did procrastinate in answering her first and subsequent emails. I had a lot on my plate, Michael was a baby, we were talking about moving.  But Ann, thank goodness, is persistent!

So, again, while we were still in Indiana, Ann and I began working on the book.  We actually finished a version and I started sending out queries.  I queried every Catholic publisher in the United States, and they all said, “No thanks.”  The reasons varied – the expense of publishing a picture book was the most frequently offered.  I was sort of amazed and – to be honest – couldn’t help but wonder if there was some anti-Benedict sentiment lurking there as well, or at least the sentiment that , “We’re not crazy about "amy welborn"Benedict, we can’t imagine people will buy a book for CHILDREN with Pope BENEDICT at the center.” And maybe even a little bit of “He’ll be dead soon, anyway.”

But..who knows.

Then one day, I had a brainstorm, and wrote to the good folks at the Catholic Truth Society in England. I think the Pope’s visit there had just been announced.  They loved the idea, and I kid you not, they had the book out and in print and available within probably five months.  And they did a beautiful job with the layout and reproduction of the art, with no trouble at all. It was amazing, and I’m still impressed when I look at the book’s interior.

Well, in the meantime, we moved to Alabama, Mike died, and in the midst of that, around Easter of 2009, Ann had the opportunity to present a mock-up of the book to..yup…

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What she is giving him, in addition the mock up of the entire book, is one of the paintings she did in which she superimposed an old image of Joseph Ratzinger at his First Communion over a contemporary scene of Bavaria.


Here’s the story, as she wrote it to me:

So we arrived at 8am the next morning and showed the paper to the Swiss guard who kept sending us closer and closer to the platform. When we got to the special section a tuxedoed man checked a list and looked us over and then said “Two of you can sit up in the prima fila and kissa da pope”. We were stunned!

The security was very tight and they kept checking their lists to see that everyone was seated in the proper seats. Archbishop Harvey paced back and forth consulting with various people in anticipation of the pope’s arrival. Finally, a helicopter (on route from Castelgandolfo) flew over the crowd and everyone cheered.

The audience was filled with the joy of Easter and was special because it was the day before Benedict’s birthday and near to his anniversary. There was lot’s of flag waving and singing in several languages and German oompah bands. The English speaking pilgrims who had been the most reserved began to sing Happy Birthday and everyone else joined in in English. The pope stood and did his customary open arm wave and bow.
Then it was time for greeting the cardinals, then bishops and the prima fila. Governor Bill Richardson was there and was among the first to be greeted.
I was really nervous and had tried to come up with a sentence that would get the point across in as few words as possible. I opened the book to the first page with Benedict hugging the child ( I later regretted that I hadn’t opened it to the page with Jesus walking with the children) and I had the print of his First Communion in my hand.
He was talking to a German family with four boys who were next to us. He definitely spent the most time with the children. My husband and I were very surprised at how he took his time with everyone…never giving the sense of being rushed.

So Benedict walked over to me, smiling and I kissed his ring. I didn’t introduce myself or my husband…didn’t say where we were from… or anything. I just kept to my script. ” Your Holiness, these are some prints of some paintings I did based on your catechesis with First Communicants” He took my hand and placed his other hand on the print of his First Communion. He smiled with recognition and paused and then looked at the other page. He didn’t actually say any words, he just made what sounded like an approving “hmm”. It is impossible to know what he was thinking, but I almost got the sense that he was touched and perhaps a bit embarrassed in a very humble way. That… or he was thinking, wow, this girl is really a loser (there I go again).
Then he said to me “Is this your work?” (“verk”, actually), to which I responded “Yes”. Then I said “we wanted to have many people hear your beautiful words.” He again responded with a “hmmm”. He paused to look again then someone took the book from him. Benedict then put his hand towards my husband and said to me “and this is?” I responded with “this is my husband and this is my son pointing back to Mark who was dutifully taking photos all the while. I must say that he waved and really beamed at my son who looked so adorable in his jacket and tie, waving and smiling back at the pope. After that was the best moment… he grasped both of my hands and looked me right in the eyes and said so sincerely “May God bless you”. I was almost taken back with the intensity of the moment. I said “and God bless you too” in return. Then he took my husband’s hand and said the same and he responded with “Happy Birthday Holy Father”. (We had a good laugh over that later).
Then Msgr. Ganswein (who really is quite charming) grabbed my hands and said “these are rosaries from the Holy Father for you and for your son” while smiling very broadly. He then gave my husband a set as well. I thanked him and said “Happy Easter”.
Ann adds a bit in 2014:
It is so funny to read the description of my little meeting with Benedict XVI of several years ago! Perhaps over time I have embellished the events in my mind…or maybe I was being somewhat modest in my description of how things happened…But I think I can honestly say (and my husband and son concur) that Benedict’s reaction was more than a “hmmm”. In fact, I would even say that it was a little gasp. Like, “oh my!” He seemed surprised and definitely laughed when he recognized himself as a little boy. Before saying “God bless you” in a very intense and personal way, he said something else to me, but sadly I couldn’t understand it! I have looked at the video many times and I can’t seem to make it out. But the words were affirming – probably something like “I appreciate what you are doing”, or “carry on with what you are doing” or “you are the finest artist the world has ever known” or “this will become the most important book of our time”. Yeah, probably something like that.

So somewhere between a “hmmm” and an “oh!” I experienced an extraordinary blessing that never would have happened if I hadn’t read about that beautiful conversation that Benedict had with the little children, and Amy hadn’t answered my email. I am enormously grateful for having the opportunity to collaborate on these projects with the great hope that they will help young families on their path to “friendship with Jesus”.

Some more images from the book:
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And that’s it – that’s the beginning, not only of a collaboration, but of a great friendship.

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