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Archive for the ‘Stations of the Cross’ Category

Not even two months after her death on March 27, Easter Sunday, Raymond Arroyo has published  another book on EWTN founder Mother Angelica, Mother Angelica: Her Grand Silence. The Last Years and Living Legacy.

The first part of the book has clearly been written for a while and, I’m guessing, was intended  as an addendum to the original biography. It is a thoroughly researched and well-told account of the stresses and fractures that developed within the community from Mother Angelica’s initial 2001 stroke onward. It’s quite interesting and even startling reading. Startling not because such fractures are news – anyone familiar with religious history and the history of religious orders is familiar with the dynamic of a religious order undergoing change after a founder’s death or after an original charism has faded into memory.

No, it’s just startling – but in a good way – to see these matters concerning a still-existant community written about (seemingly) so forthrightly. The divisions, the dynamic, the personalities are all explored. It makes sense. The monastery was subject to a Vatican-ordered visitation, a matter of public record, so there is no reason to pretend otherwise.

This was also interesting to me on a personal level because these events came to one of their climaxes shortly after we moved here in 2008. I knew something was going on and all was not well at the monastery, but no details. In the fall, a young woman who had left the monastery became Mike’s secretary – a lovely young woman who has since found her place in another religious community – and the events described in the book – which came to a head in the spring and early summer of 2009, after Mike had died in February  –  helped all of that click into place for me.

And the story of Mother Angelica’s trip to Japan in 2004 is fascinating in a borderline horrific way. I had no idea this had happened.

The rest of the book, however, is almost a patische of various elements. Her life story is retold. Again. Arroyo’s own connection with her is narrated again. Many pages are taken up with letters testifying to the impact Mother Angelica had on people’s lives. Arroyo discusses what he sees as how she lived out heroic virtues. He discusses some of her mystical experiences, including a tentative “I’m just throwing this out there” suggestion about bilocation. Hmmm.

Since Mother Angelica had let go of the reins of EWTN in 2000(a still-controversial decision made to prevent influence by elements in the Church – aka bishops – who opposed her vision), the network doesn’t enter into the narrative much, except in places where Arroyo is recollecting his relationship with Mother Angelica. It seems that in that last decade and a half, she was not even interested in the network, wanting the channel changed to Fox News or reruns of I Love Lucy from the station she’d founded. To the extent that she was invested in events, it was the conditions and direction of her sisters that concerned her the most, as far as she was able to be concerned about what was happening around her.

What there is related to EWTN, I was most interested in his description of a tussle regarding Pope John Paul II’s 1997 visit to Cuba.

At the network there were certain individuals (long gone) who wanted to shape our coverage to suit their own political perspective – mainly to establish that Cuban president Fidel Castro was a neutral or even positive actor in the region. This tracked with the views of some in Latin America, markets where EWTN was attempting to secure carriage….” (162)

The narrative of Mother Angelica’s last few years – her health, her daily life and care – is actually sketchy and scattered throughout the book. What is there is a good reflection by Arroyo and her caregivers about the nature of suffering and the different ways that we, throughout our lives and at different levels of physical strength and ability – can use our time for God and for others. But it’s not at the level of detail or spiritual depth that one finds, for example, in accounts of Mother Teresa’s life.

It’s 224 pages  – a short book – I read it in little over an hour – and Mother Angelica fans will undoubtedly enjoy it. If you’re interested in contemporary church history, it’s worth checking it out from the library to read over that first section.

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Ahhh…one of those weeks.  I never wrote any Daily Homeschool Reports because there was so little “schooling” happening, although plenty of education.  The craziness continues on Friday, but things will calm down next week. So to make up for it, most of these takes will be homeschool-related.

— 2 —

Monday, of course, there was no school of any kind, just playing around here at home.  Tuesday was pretty insane. We started out early, with a two-hour session at a pipe organ, with an organist to introduce M to the instrument to help him discern if lessons are something he’d like to do.  I much prefer piano repertoire to organ, but I nonetheless keep pushing the “When you’re 17, playing a wedding or filling in at Sunday Mass will be a more interesting way to make money than bagging groceries” angle.

We popped home for a bit, did the only book-school-writing stuff of the week – mostly math, as I recall.  Then it was off to boxing. Then a new zoo class – not a homeschool class, but for kids in general – on night zookeeping.  He loved it. This week they took care of the goats. I’m thinking, “Kids on a farm  clean up after goats  without their parents paying for the privilege,” but that’s okay. He adores animals and all he gets to take care of at home is a snake, who is lazy and undemanding, so this is good for him.

Then basketball practice.

Wednesday was an all-day activity, and today was…

– 3—

Comedy of Errors!

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival (located in Montgomery) brought a touring production of an abridged version of the play up to the Alabama School of Fine Arts.  They are performing Friday evening, but did two school performances this week, and we attended on Thursday.

It was a fun production. Set in a jazzy late-40’s/early 50’s world, the plot was slimmed down, but the language wasn’t. A small cast traded off roles, but managed to keep the confusing plot pretty easy to follow. We’d done just a bit of preview beforehand – not as much as I had hoped, but as it turned out, there was really no need.

After the 90-minute performance, the cast gathered on stage to answer questions from the kids, and as usual, it is so heartening to see and hear children and young people enjoy, discuss and draw meaning from Shakespeare – or any challenging work.

Tomorrow is the symphony – some Schubert and Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto.

— 4 —

Many thanks to the wonderful Kris McGregor of KVSS in Omaha and the Discerning Hearts apostolate, who is doing a daily podcast during Lent in which she reads selections from The Power of the Cross.  OSV took this book out of print not long after Mike died, unfortunately, but Kris, like many others, has found it to be a valuable resource – I’m very grateful to her for sharing it with listeners during this Lent.

As I said, the book is out of print, but you can grab a free e-copy here.

— 5 —

Homeschool article of the week: this very fair and straight-up reported, rather than opined piece in the Christian Science Monitor.  It’s actually on unschooling:

But if the perceived educational advantage of unschooling is one draw for parents, there is often also something else. Many of the parents who decide to home-school want a different lifestyle, one that is not only free of what Holt described as the “factory school” and its perceived shortcomings, but one that rejects all of those 9-to-5 obligations that just make life less fun – and, unschoolers would say, less meaningful. 

This is what Jamie MacKenzie felt not long after her son, Noah, was born. She remembers watching other parents in her well-off town of Andover, Mass., rush from activity to activity, event to event, with both kids and grown-ups overbooked and overstressed.  

“I just knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” she says. “As our parenting journey continued, I realized that a lot of our decisions about our values, our health, just the flow of our life, didn’t fit into a normal Monday-through-Friday routine.”

She decided not to return to her well-paying job in education, and instead began a home business with a flexible schedule, selling essential oils. She also decided to keep Noah, now 7, and then her other two children out of school, even though the local school district is considered one of the best in the area. She says her family mostly leans toward unschooling.

 

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It’s nice to be Catholic and not be bothered by things like this, and in fact, be determined to dig out a  metaphor.

"amy welborn"

Corona…crown. Saints in heaven. Maybe?

It’s not impossible!

— 7 —

 

 

Oh, speaking of books, here’s a short interview I did with Pete Socks of the Catholic Book Blogger on JPII’s Biblical Way of the Cross.

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

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  1. Here’s a short interview I did with Catholic Book Blogger Pete Socks on the JPII Biblical Way of the Cross:
  2. In the interview I refer to an article about Beth Holloway, the mother of Natalee Holloway, the young woman who disappeared while in Aruba on a class trip. The family was from Birmingham, and the article is in a local magazine. I was struck by the powerful encounter that Beth Holloway – a Methodist – had with a Stations of the Cross in Aruba.  I quote it in the interview, but I’ll do so here as well:

The first few years after 2005 were a search for answers more so than a search for happiness; it took a moment of revelation at a small Catholic church in Aruba for Holloway to begin moving forward again after Natalee’s disappearance. Holloway was raised as a Methodist, with a mother who taught her that God is good, and a grandmother who told her, “Lay your burdens at the cross.” On her fourth morning in Aruba, those lessons came into sharper focus for Holloway. She found a taxi and asked the driver to take her somewhere to pray. “He pulled over and there was a large white cross, and he told me to get out of the car, and as I did, I walked to the cross and just fell to the cross on my knees and just started crying and begging and praying to God to give Natalee back,” she says. “I got up, and I went to next cross, repeated my same prayers and dropped to my knees and kept praying and crying and begging for God to give her back.”

After days of searching for her missing daughter, Holloway says she was in unbearable pain. Though she was unfamiliar with the Catholic tradition of the stations of the cross, she instinctively went from cross to cross, each time seeking an answer. Finally, on the fifth or sixth station, she found one. “Complete peace blanketed me, and in that instant somehow I then knew that Natalee was with God, and I knew that he had cared for her through whatever ordeal she had encountered that night, and that’s when I became at peace,” she says. “When my grandmother was always saying, ‘Lay your burdens at the cross,’ I got, at that point, what she was saying. I laid the burden of caring for Natalee at the cross. The work to find out what happened to her had to be done, but the burden was taken from me.”

 

When Catholic churches embody the Gospel in its art, architecture and devotional objects, and those churches are open – people encounter Christ.

"amy welborn"3. Today’s Gospel is Matthew 25:31-   . Years ago, Mike brought together Bishop Robert Baker and the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel to write a book called When Did We See You, Lord?  Read more about it here. 

 

 

So, yes, mercy. How does it happen? How does God communicate his mercy and love to this hurting world? Through us, and in many ways, first and most importantly through one person’s outreach to another.

But also, this:

To construct churches that tell the story of Jesus through their design, art and even just their very presence among us, standing firm in the midst of the city or as a quiet faithful herald on a country road; to erect a roadside shrine; to paint and sculpt images and symbols that bring the Gospel and the saints who have embraced into into the present moment – and to make the sacrifices necessary to  keep it all open and available to any and all passers-by?

That’s a work of mercy.

 

 

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Yes, one month from today…is Ash Wednesday…

Welp, as I always say, “The sooner Lent starts, the sooner it’s over!”

If you’re on the lookout for resources for yourself, your kids or your parish or school, take a look at these. It’s not too late to order parish resources. Many of these are available in digital formats, so it’s never too late for those:

  • Reconciled to God, a daily devotional from Creative Communications for the parish.  You can buy it individually, in bulk for the parish our your group, or get a digital version. (.99)amy-welborn-3

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  • The Word on Fire ministry is more than the Catholicism series – as great as that is! There are also some really great lecture series/group discussion offerings.  I wrote the study guide for the series on Conversion – a good Lenten topic. 

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  • A few years ago, I wrote a Stations of the Cross for young people calledNo 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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Looking ahead to First Communion/Confirmation season? Try here. 

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I was poking around my archives looking for an account of some previous travel (which I will get to in a moment), when the timing of that trip struck me for a couple of reasons…

Gosh, it was ten years ago. Just about this time of year. 

And while we were on the trip, John Paul II was dying…and then he died.

That was ten years ago tomorrow (April 2)…is anyone remembering this? 

(I see that Pope Francis referred to the anniversary today.)

So weird, considering the impact of that moment and the subsequent consistory electing Cardinal Ratzinger.  Those weeks were quite memorable, for they were weeks in which the Catholic understanding of life and death, embodied in the lives of human beings and the ritual of the Church, was there for everyone to see, and it was all rather stirring, beautiful and hopeful.

So.

What I was looking for was anything I’d written about our visit, on that Arizona trip, to something called the Gallery of the Sun – the studio of late artist Ted De Grazia.  You probably don’t know his name, but if you have memories of popular art of the 1960’s, this might strike a chord:

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No, not as well-known as the Keane’s Big Eyes, but still, part of the fabric of the era.

We didn’t have it as a destination – I think it was on the way to somewhere else. But we stopped in, and I was surprised by the heavy religious content of the art.  De Grazia claimed he was not a traditionally religious man, but the Gallery is dedicated to the great missionary of the Southwest, Fr. Kino,

DeGrazia was inspired by the memorable events in the life and times of Padre Kino, the heroic, historic and immortal priest-colonizer of the Southwestern desert. Since childhood, DeGrazia admired Padre Kino for his education, life of adventure and his respect for Native Americans. DeGrazia traveled to every Kino mission as he lovingly studied the life of his favorite Jesuit priest. The Mission in the Sun is dedicated to his memory.

What struck me with the most force during the visit was De Grazia’s Stations of the Cross.  They were painted, according to this article, for the Catholic Student Center at the University of Arizona in Tuscon (my mother’s alma mater…but painted several years after her attendance). I  purchased a little bound set of postcards at the time, and still use it.

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Yes, it’s pop art of a sort, but some of the stations are, I think, rather powerful. This image is from the Gallery’s Pinterest board, which has representations of all the images, some notes on the inspiration and preliminary sketches:

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I think this is my favorite:

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Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us’. For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

That said…ten years?

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