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…try these!

The Prove It books – described in detail here.  Good for 8th grade and high school graduates.  Prove It! Prayer might be good for a Confirmandi.

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All of them would be great to gift to your local youth minister or catechist, right?

A college graduate"amy welborn"?

Perhaps, Here.Now. A Catholic Guide to the Good Life or The Words We Pray. 

Here.Now. is no longer in print in a print  edition, but is available used and is being sold as a Kindle edition.  (Which are easy to gift – you just purchase it and send the recipient a link.  Remember you don’t have to own a Kindle to read a Kindle edition – you can just get the free app for any device.)

You can read the introduction here. 

The Words We Pray is a collection of essays on the prayers listed below – traditional Catholic prayers. In the book, I make the case for praying these prayers, suggesting that there is great value in joining our own hearts to the prayers of the Scriptures and of the saints. They’re a little bit of history and a little bit personal reflection. It’s probably my favorite of all the books I’ve written.

More information

  • The Sign of the Cross
  • The Our Father
  • Hail Mary
  • Credo"amy welborn"
  • The Morning Offering
  • Salve Regina
  • The Act of Contrition
  • The Jesus Prayer
  • Anima Christi
  • Angel Prayers
  • Prayers of St. Francis
  • St. Patrick’s Breastplate
  • Memorare
  • Suscipe
  • Veni Creator Spiritus
  • Grace at Meals
  • The Liturgy of the Hours
  • Glory Be
  • Amen
  • Where Do My Prayers Go?
  • Using Vocal Prayer

I don’t have any of these available for sale here, but in case you are still looking for picture books or The Catholic Woman’s Book of Days….check here.  (Remember, the picture books would be great end-of year gifts for catechists, DRE’s or your parish or school library or classroom.)

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— 1 —

One of the dads of my son’s 8th grade class writes icons.  So for the class school auction contribution, over a period of several weeks, the class worked with this dad to write an icon.

They worked in small groups, and on the day it was your turn, you were prepare beforehand by fasting and praying.

The completed icon was blessed at the liturgy at the local Melkite Rite Catholic Church.

(We couldn’t go because the boys were committed to serve elsewhere that morning. I was sorry to have missed it!)

Then it was purchased at the auction and donated back to the school, where it will hang.

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We had an 8th grade appreciation dinner the other night, at which the icon was displayed, each 8th grader received a lovely copy of it,  and a video about the writing of the icon was shown. The soundtrack was haunting, fantastic Greek Catholic chant.

— 2 —

The thing is, when you talk about Birmingham, Alabama and Catholics, people don’t realize that along with the Italians, it was Eastern Catholics – Melkite and Maronite – who were the earliest Catholics inhabitants here, along with Russian (the first Russian Orthodox church in the South was founded in Brookside, a tiny community just north of Birmingham)  and Eastern European Orthodox. They came as miners, ironworkes, railroad workers, and shopkeepers.  Add the early, vibrant Jewish presence in Birmingham, and you have a community that has a surprisingly strong Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean historical subculture.  There’s great Mediterranean food here, both in local (but growing) chains like Taziki’s and Zoe’s Kitchen, both of which originated here, as well as in independent restaurants, including one of the newcomers, Eli’s Jerusalem Grill, where we ate last weekend, and which served the best falafel I’ve had here, and delicious shawarma.

What this means (back to the religious conversation) is that because the Catholic population as a whole is relatively small, but also with historical roots that are deep and diverse – for example, my son’s former Catholic school celebrated a Maronite Catholic liturgy twice every school year –  Birmingham Catholics tend to have a good, healthy understanding of the cultural  breadth of “Catholic.”

(By the way, Fr. Mitch Pacwa is bi-ritual and often celebrates the liturgy at the local Maronite parish)

— 3 —

Speaking of Catholic schools….how about an end-of-the year gift for…

….your children’s catechist?

….your parish DRE?

….your school or parish library?

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— 4 —

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May crowning at the convent.  I never have good Mass photos because I really don’t like to take photos during Mass.  This is about as good as it gets. My ten-year old is holding the crown of flowers over there.  The older one was camping, so he went to Mass somewhere in Georgia….

What is better than my photos is the quality of preaching we hear at the convent  – which along with the sound, simple, reverent Catholic sacred music – is a primary motive for our attendance there. Since it is retreat house, when there is a retreat, the Sunday liturgy is celebrated by the priest offering the weekend, so you know the preaching is going to be good.  Over the past weeks, we’ve heard homilies from Fr. Paul Check, director of the Courage apostolate, and Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, national director of the Apostleship of Prayer.  And when there’s no retreat, the celebrant is generally one of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, so that’s pretty good, too!

— 5 —

School proceeds apace.  The older son will be done with his school in a week, so the sort-of-formal homeschool will wind down then as well, although both will continue with math in some form all summer, and we’ll do a little bit of Latin every day (or close to it) as well.  Plus all of the other TEACHABLE MOMENTS, you know.  That never stops.  Poor kids.

Recent rabbit-holes:

(I judge the quality of our homeschool day by two things:  Did Math get done and were the rabbit holes interesting and plentiful?)

  • Latin vocabulary word was scutum, which means shield.  He knew he had heard something related before, so  he pulled out the big Oxford dictionary (for things like this, we use the print dictionary instead of the internet – you get a better sense of the breadth and depth of word roots and derivations with a dictionary).

Well, of course – a scute is a kind of/part of a reptile scale….so yes, he’d heard of it.  And learned some more as we poured over various related words.

  • Next up was lignum  – wood.  That, too, was familiar, but for a different reason.  I pulled out the coal samples we’d studied a few weeks ago, and we remembered that yes, one of them was lignite, so called because of all the forms of coal, on it, the outline of the original wood can often be most clearly seen.
  • Today’s saint was Flavia Domitilla, from Ponza…an island off the coast of Italy, which neither of us knew existed, so we looked that up and learned about it.  Archipelagos came up for some reason, so that was pursued, and various animals native to various islands were followed…and on it went.
  • I’d checked out a fun, cartoonish book on animals in history.  He’d read through most of it the other day, but we poked around it a bit more before returning it to the library, talking about Magellan, Napoleon, Newton, Mozart, and spending some time on Seaman, the Newfoundland who accompanied Lewis and Clark, and who is around in most of the statues commemorating the exploration, including this one – I’d remembered the statue, of course, but completely forgotten about the dog – from Saint Charles, MO, which was the starting point of the journey.

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And earlier in the week, there’s been, after the piano lesson, time spent at the botanical garden (one of our city’s treasures…and, like the other treasure, the art museum….free) and the zoo, with old friends.

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— 6 —

I have mentioned this on Twitter, but I’m not sure if I have mentioned it here or not – this great site that has loads and loads of quotes and poems related to every month and season of the year.  It’s just a lot of fun to peruse, period, but especially so if you want seasonally-related quotations and poetry to share with kids – say, for copywork or memory work.

As I look beyond Getting Started With Latin, I’m poking around various other Latin curricula, and considering an unhurried journey through Cambridge. While on that site, I discovered this really astonishing section on “Classical Tales” – complete with beautifully done audio retellings, printables, links….wow.   

— 7 —

Still time?  Maybe!

"amy welborn"

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

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Still without internet here. Coming to you from Zaxby’s this time.  I thought we were okay, but then it went out again, so I’ve made the call, and will be switching providers at some point this week.

But until then a few notes on homeschooling stuff:

(Obviously no videos all week…too bad…there have been some good ones posted at The Kids Should See This …but they will still be there!)

*We’re almost finished with Getting Started with Latin. As I said before, we are supplementing it with Visual Latin, but the more I get into the latter (again – we did a lot of it with my older son), the weaker it seems. The videos are amusing, but the order and pace is just off – jumping in and discussing “feminine, masculine and neuter” nouns without reference to declensions, for example – instead of exploring the first declension thoroughly before moving on to the second, then the concept of gender when you hit the neuter second declension nouns.  Yes, it means you will probably have to delay discussing adjectives, but I think it’s better to get a deeper sense of the concept of declensions as the way we understand nouns along with verb conjugations.  So, no, I can’t recommend Visual Latin.   (Besides, if you are not Christian or religious in your worldview, his “reading” passages hit religious themes right off, and the thing is, they’re made up – they’re not classical or even deeply theologically based  That bothered me the first time around, and even more so this time.)

*Catholic schools, please get a clue and start teaching Latin again, across the board, to everyone, starting in elementary school.  Even aside from the, you know, Catholic aspect of teaching Latin, the habits in instills are so important:  it has prompted a curiosity about word origin in my son, to the point that it’s almost a reflex for him to pause upon hearing a new word, and reflect on where it came from (if that word is English)  or what it leads to (if it’s a Latin or Greek word).  In addition, the particular skills that are learned in Latin translation, it seems, are deeply related to problem-solving and logic in a way that translation of living languages is not.  As my son has interacted with longer and longer sentences involving various cases and conjugations, I can see his brain work:  Quickly scan the sentence, get a sense of the general structure, find your verb, find your subject, and then drill down into everything else. It teaches him to get a general sense of a problem or issue, and then carefully take it apart –  before tackling – and being overwhelmed – by a mass of particulars.

*I LOVE the Writing and Rhetoric series from Classical Academic Press.  Granted, we are only on the first volume (Fables, Grades 3-4), and I don’t know if the process will eventually get repetitive, but four chapters in, I am sold.  The way it works in this first volume is that a fable is presented as the centerpiece of each chapter.  The student reads the fable, then narrates it back to the teacher.  After that point, the fable is used as a basis for various exercises: summarization, amplification, writing in a copious manner, exploring synonyms and always some form of creative writing.  I’m particularly struck by the process of summarizing that is taught:  Find the main idea.  Circle it.  Underline any words that are essential to the main idea.  Cross out any words or sentences that are not essential.  Then write a summary.  It’s very methodical, but it seems it really teaches how to summarize.

*I think this, combined with the Brave Writer method of tapping the imagination and observational powers, will be the core of our writing program here for now.  I can stop searching for that Platonic ideal at least.

*As I said in the 7 Quick Takes, Beast Academy 4D is here.  It continues to impress, and it continues to entertain my son, since he has already grabbed and read the whole text (in comic book form) at this point.  Since 5A will probably not be out until mid-fall, I’m guessing, we will take our time with this one, with a lot of supplementation – some from the Challenge Math book, and some from various books I picked up (digitally) during one of Scholastic’s 1$ sales – a book on fractions for grades 6-8, Building Math Vocabulary, and Algebra Readiness Made Easy, as well as Evan-Moor daily Math problem books, both regular and word problems.  I’m finding that at this point of in Beast Academy 4 – about ¾ of the way – seems to place a student mid 5th grade in traditional American math.  I’d have to get a textbook to make sure of that, as well as actually finish BA 4, but from leafing through 5th grade supplements at the bookstore last night, it seems about right.

*Books that have impressed this week:  As we have been deep into avian life, we’ve checked out several books (and will be "amy welborn"investing in a couple of birds of Alabama- type books), but one that is particularly lovely is the National Wildlife Federation-published World of BirdsIt features drawings and paintings rather than photographs, and it’s lovely, engaging and full of good information.  (And of course, if you are going to tackle birds, you will book mark the Cornell Orthinological site).

I love maps.  I think historical maps are such a great way of exploring history and geography and, as an implied side effect, the nature of human knowledge and understanding, which is never complete, and always changes and develops.  In short: don’t be arrogant,  human race.  What you think you know? That will change.

Great Maps is a new, big, fat, solid book that presents historical maps from all cultures with a great format:  One spread discusses the map in general, and then the next highlights certain intriguing or important features.  It’s really good, worth checking out and maybe even worth purchasing if that is your interest…okay…time’s up!

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…not really great. Just a silence?

Yeah, no internet or landline for a week now.  I’ve been promised a fix tomorrow – just as I’ve been promised every day.  I’ll wait to unload on this matter until it is, actually restored.  I’m sitting in McDonald’s trying to answer some email, so I thought I would just check in.

This week in Living Faith:  

April 19, here.

And today’s – April 23. 

More later.  I hope.

And don’t forget!  Books!

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My book club read George Saunders’ collection of short stories, The Tenth of December.  So good. He drills down deep into matters of human connection and purpose with a vision that in some stories evokes, in my mind, Walker Percy. At times, there are mysteries about what exactly is going on and what exactly this or that process or machine or war is all about, but all tenth-of-decemberthe better to help the reader be pulled into the world on the level of shared experience, rather than just curious observer.

A Goodreads reviewer took these stories to task for not having any heart, and, well, in my experience (and the experience of our group), the opposite was the case.

These stories are all about rescuing other human beings and what we have to overcome in order to acknowledge the  humanity of those needing rescue and our own reluctance to reach out, risk and sacrifice.

There is so much (well, some) chatter that abounds concerning..where is the faith in fiction? Where is the Catholic fiction? As much as I’m interested in both religion and fiction and as much affinity as I have for 20th-century Catholic-themed and sourced fiction, those conversations don’t interest me much.  I’m more interested in finding writers like Saunders (way after the rest of the world did, of course) and being engaged by the questions he poses in such arresting ways.

(Saunders, btw, was raised Catholic and is now Buddhist.)

If you want a taste of what Saunders is all about, these stories from that collection are available online for free:

Here is a blog post with links to several Saunders stories – three are in this collection: “The Tenth of December,” “Puppy,” “The Semplica-Girl Diaries.” (although with the last, the version in the book is longer than that which was published in The New Yorker.)  You can read “Victory Lap” here.  The story, “Home” is here. The last couple of paragraphs of “Home” are as deeply human and true as anything in contemporary fiction.

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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!

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And for Confirmation/Graduation….

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— 1 —

Atlas Obscura has become one of my favorite sites.  For example, check this out:

Built as a residential home in 1630, in the heart of the oldest part of Amsterdam and bordering the infamous red light district, this particular steep-gabled building holds a remarkable secret. Making your way through the nearly 400-year-old corridors, kitchens, and bedrooms, there is a narrow and steep staircase that leads to the upper floors. Where, hidden away in the attic, is a magnificently miniature, fully-appointed Catholic church.

The clandestine church, known in Dutch as a “schuilkerk,” was secreted away in the attic on purpose due to the persecution of Catholicism in Holland in the 17th century. Unable to hold mass in public, Jan Hartmann converted the attic of his home to a church in 1663.

— 2 —

I think I shared before that my younger sons were going to be serving every single liturgy of Holy Week at the convent. Well, they did!

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And it was lovely.

— 3 —

I read Christopher Beha’s Arts and Entertainments – it had been praised in various faith-n-lit forums, so when I saw it on the library shelf, I decided to give it a go.  It’s a very quick, initially entertaining read – I read most of in one evening.

It’s the story of a youngish man who teaches drama in his own high school alma mater.  He’s a failed proessional actor, whose former girlfriend has gone on to star in a wildly successful television show.  Married, he and his wife struggle with fertility, and in order to pay for treatments,assured of anonymity in the transaction, he succumbs to temptation and sells a sex tape made with his former girlfriend.

Of course the veil is ripped away immediately, and the novel is about the power of contemporary reality-television culture and there was certainly a theological/spiritual observation being made. As the kingmaker reality-television producer (a former seminarian) declares, the audience has replaced God as the arbiter of good and evil, as the motivator for human choice and behavior:

“In the world I used to live in, good is whatever God wants. That’s it. There’s no other measuring stick. There is no good before God. When we say that God is good, all we’re saying is that God is God. In the world I live in now, it’s the same thing. There’s only one criterion. What does the audience want? Does the audience want you to be honest? Does the audience want you to be kind? . . . The audience has only one way of expressing its interest—by watching. They might watch because they love you. They might watch because they hate you. They might watch because they’re sick. Doesn’t matter. Is that good or bad? The question doesn’t make any sense. Good is whatever the audience watches.”

I think this is an astute observation, but I think that Beha actually doesn’t cut deeply enough here.  In confining his characters’ hijinks to the world of television-and-movies celebrity and reality TV, he lets the rest of us off the hook.

I say this because “the audience” isn’t just people who watch TV and peruse gossip sites. The “audience” that must be pleased is composed of our blog readers, Facebook friends, Instagram and Twitter followers…all of which feeds the human temptation to make choices and behave for thGod’e sake of others’ opinions rather than God’s will.

It’s the temptation to perform instead of just live.

So…three stars for Arts and Entertainments because, while it certainly kept me entertained, it did get a bit repetitive and stayed on a level that was just too safe.

— 4 —

So I bought this in Spain.

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People were puzzled.

Why would you want a sharp carrot?

Well, I finally broke it out and used it this week, and here’s how it’s done.

There’s an edge that functions as a peeler, and it’s nice and sharp.

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And then you use the “sharpener” part to make curls or rosettes.  Nifty.

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And if you really want to, you can certainly just sharpen your carrot:

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As I said before, I got this at a shop called Tiger, which I would love to see in the US: a Dollar Tree with Ikea design sensibilities.

— 5 —

I fell down on the Easter egg stuff this year, but honestly, with 10- and 14-year old boys in the house, the pressure is not overwhelming.  Although this year’s version (I didn’t have the energy to tackle the Ukrainian eggs this year) was chemically and mechanically intriguing enough that the 14-year old  wandered into the kitchen on night and made a couple of his own volition.

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I bought some 100% pure silk ties at the thrift store – darker colors are preferred.  Then you wrap the eggs in that fabric, then wrap each again in a square of white sheet or pillowcase, and boil for fifteen minutes.

The site I got this from recommended not eating the eggs because of the risk from the dye  You can do blow-out eggs in this manner, but you’d need to weight them down in the boiling water.

If I ever do this again (which I probably won’t), I would make sure the silk was more evenly wrapped and every bit of eggshell was in contact with fabric.  We had some blank patches. I’ll also remember to put vinegar into the water next time….

— 6 —

 Alabama:  Where you go from a slight morning and evening chill to three-foot mosquitos showing up in your house all within a week’s time.

— 7 —

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

Got it!

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days

"amy welborn"

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

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