Seville Weekend

Since last we spoke….

Actually, a lot, huh? I just looked back and realized I’d hardly posted anything. Huh! So let’s scroll back:

Jesus del Gran Poder – a very important spiritual site. You walk behind the statue and reverence it by touching the heel:

Visit to the Seville Aquarium, which was small but good. Some of the exhibits were centered around the 500th anniversary of Magellan’s voyage to circumnavigate the globe. Building in the second photo is the Colombian consulate.


Then a walk through Maria Louisa park to meet the parents at Plaza de Espana. Stop on the way in the Archaeology Museum, which was basically one floor of finds from the Roman presence in Spain. It only costs 1.50, so…worth the time and money. A stop to feed some birds..

Seville from the Triana Bridge:


Someone will have plenty of clean handkerchiefs:



Random scenes from a morning walk, including (content warning!) lamb brains:


More in the next post…

Trinity Sunday

Symbols related to the Trinity from The Loyola Kids Book of Catholic Signs and Symbols. 

Plus some subdued Spanish Baroque from the Church of El Salvador in Seville. 



— 1 —

Mostly from Seville today, and mostly photos. But let’s start with this past Sunday. Pentecost Roses! From the Ceiling! Full post here. 


 — 2 —

We’re in Seville. The trip was not smooth, but here we are. It’s nothing compared to having to spend a month in steerage, so no complaints! Some photos. Perhaps over the weekend I will have time to compose more coherent posts. Just know that yesterday (Thursday) was super Catholic with not one, but two processions. I messed up the videos with one (I still can’t get it in my head when I’m recording and when I’m not – which button means what.) but what I have will be on Instagram by the time you read this, probably. Maybe. But go there and check!

— 3 —

The Alcazar. You people who watch Game of Thrones will recognize the middle photo, I suppose.





The Cathedral, including the tomb of Christopher Columbus (DNA testing has, I understand, demonstrated the high probability that these are, indeed, his remains, after several transfers, even across the Atlantic)

The Cathedral is the 3rd-largest in Europe, after St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s in London.



–5 —

Dig this St. Lawrence grill from another church. I ask you –  Mediterranean/Latino Catholics – is anyone more extra?



— 6 —



Procession one: something involving bulls pulling carts and the Macarena neighborhood. Our Lady of Macarena? Is there? Not sure/

— 7 —

Procession two: St. Anthony in another neighborhood. Short procession, but an amazing band. The image of St. Anthony was processed to a St. Anthony church. Taken inside, they then distributed bread to everyone as they left. One of the photos is of the platform-bearers.




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

St. Anthony

Today is his feastday!

From The Loyola Kids Book of Catholic Signs and Symbols. 

Here is a link to some of his homilies. It’s pdf. 

Then, a General Audience from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, from 2011:

It is only the prayerful soul that can progress in spiritual life: this is the privileged object of St Anthony’s preaching. He is thoroughly familiar with the shortcomings of human nature, with our tendency to lapse into sin, which is why he continuously urges us to fight the inclination to avidity, pride and impurity; instead of practising the virtues of poverty and generosity, of humility and obedience, of chastity and of purity. At the beginning of the 13th century, in the context of the rebirth of the city and the flourishing of trade, the number of people who were insensitive to the needs of the poor increased. This is why on various occasions Anthony invites the faithful to think of the true riches, those of the heart, which make people good and merciful and permit them to lay up treasure in Heaven. “O rich people”, he urged them, “befriend… the poor, welcome them into your homes: it will subsequently be they who receive you in the eternal tabernacles in which is the beauty of peace, the confidence of security and the opulent tranquillity of eternal satiety” (ibid., p. 29).

Is not this, dear friends, perhaps a very important teaching today too, when the financial crisis and serious economic inequalities impoverish many people and create conditions of poverty? In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate I recall: “The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred” (n. 45).

Anthony, in the school of Francis, always put Christ at the centre of his life and thinking, of his action and of his preaching. This is another characteristic feature of Franciscan theology: Christocentrism. Franciscan theology willingly contemplates and invites others to contemplate the mysteries of the Lord’s humanity, the man Jesus, and in a special way the mystery of the Nativity: God who made himself a Child and gave himself into our hands, a mystery that gives rise to sentiments of love and gratitude for divine goodness.

Not only the Nativity, a central point of Christ’s love for humanity, but also the vision of the Crucified One inspired in Anthony thoughts of gratitude to God and esteem for the dignity of the human person, so that all believers and non-believers might find in the Crucified One and in his image a life-enriching meaning. St Anthony writes: “Christ who is your life is hanging before you, so that you may look at the Cross as in a mirror. There you will be able to know how mortal were your wounds, that no medicine other than the Blood of the Son of God could heal. If you look closely, you will be able to realize how great your human dignity and your value are…. Nowhere other than looking at himself in the mirror of the Cross can man better understand how much he is worth” (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi III, pp. 213-214).

In meditating on these words we are better able to understand the importance of the image of the Crucified One for our culture, for our humanity that is born from the Christian faith. Precisely by looking at the Crucified One we see, as St Anthony says, how great are the dignity and worth of the human being. At no other point can we understand how much the human person is worth, precisely because God makes us so important, considers us so important that, in his opinion, we are worthy of his suffering; thus all human dignity appears in the mirror of the Crucified One and our gazing upon him is ever a source of acknowledgement of human dignity.

Dear friends, may Anthony of Padua, so widely venerated by the faithful, intercede for the whole Church and especially for those who are dedicated to preaching; let us pray the Lord that he will help us learn a little of this art from St Anthony. May preachers, drawing inspiration from his example, be effective in their communication by taking pains to combine solid and sound doctrine with sincere and fervent devotion. In this Year for Priests, let us pray that priests and deacons will carry out with concern this ministry of the proclamation of the word of God, making it timely for the faithful, especially through liturgical homilies. May they effectively present the eternal beauty of Christ, just as Anthony recommended: “If you preach Jesus, he will melt hardened hearts; if you invoke him he will soften harsh temptations; if you think of him he will enlighten your mind; if you read of him he will satifsfy your intellect” (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi III, p. 59).

Secondly, for children, an excerpt from my Loyola Kids’ Book of Saints:

Then one day something happened that was almost as strange as the ship wandering off course. There was a large meeting of Franciscans and Dominicans, but oddly enough, the plans for who would give the sermon at the meeting fell through. There were plenty of fine preachers present, but none of them were prepared.

"amy welborn"Those in charge of the meeting went down the line of friars. “Would you care to give the sermon, Brother? No? What about you, Father? No? Well, what about you, Fr. Anthony—is that your name?”

Slowly, Anthony rose, and just as slowly, he began to speak. The other friars sat up to listen. There was something very special about Anthony. He didn’t use complicated language, but his holiness and love for God shone through his words. He was one of the best preachers they had ever heard!

From that point on, Anthony’s quiet life in the hospital kitchen was over. For the rest of his life, he traveled around Italy and France, preaching sermons in churches and town squares to people who came from miles around.

His listeners heard Anthony speak about how important it is for us to live every day in God’s presence. As a result of his words, hundreds of people changed their lives and bad habits, bringing Jesus back into their hearts.

Next, some photos of the huge Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua from our trip in 2012.

(No photos were allowed inside)

From Seville

Well, after a rather tortuous journey, we’re here. I just keep telling myself (and others) that there is nothing “torturous” about being able to hop on a metal tube that takes you across the ocean in a matter of seven hours. Nothing. 

But there were mishaps. Our flight from BHM to LGA was diverted to Philadelphia, making our connecting to JFK in time extremely dicey. I’d built in a lot of time, but that time was wiped out by the diversion and, I was afraid, a long tarmac sit at LGA. I just don’t trust these airlines and they’re “You’ll get there” assurances. So I insisted on deplaning at Philadelphia (they were separate tickets) – which was more of a hassle than it should be – and got an Uber to drive us directly to JFK. It was a little crazy, but I would rather pay a bit extra (and considering that an Uber from LGA to JFK is over $40, it honestly wasn’t that much more) and be more in control of the situation. It’s the lack of control (and the pervasive dishonesty) that makes me put air travel last on my list of preferred modes.

So…we got there, got on the plane, flew to Madrid and….were faced with a massive line at Passport Control. Scads of people missed flights because of it. There was no fast-tracking for tight connections for some reason (I’m assuming security). So yeah, we missed our flight to Seville, wandered around a bit trying to figure out what to do, stood in line at the Iberia help desk for twenty minutes until a woman ahead of us in line was told that because her Iberia flights had been booked through American, she had to go to the American desk – that was our situation, so I followed her and her party – her mother and some other ladies all bound for Rome. Stood in line at American for a while, and they told us Iberia had responsibility. The AA guy walked us to the Iberia desk, and that guy said, yes they’d help, but we’d have to stand in line and wait. And there was a line. And you know how long it takes to rebook air tickets, right?

We were supposed to be in Seville at 1. It was almost 2. There was no issue on the Seville end – I’d been in contact with the apartment owner and told him we were delayed – but yeah, we wanted to get there. It didn’t look to us like there were any flights until evening. Another executive “screw it” decision – and down to the Renfe office to buy train tickets. A nice quiet train ride, everyone collapsed in sleep, me calling AA to make sure I wasn’t counted as a “no show” and the rest of my ticket cancelled (I wasn’t), arrival in Seville by 5:15, short taxi ride to the apartment, a wonderful orientation by the owner, some wandering, some not-great tapas (I characterized it as “Applebee’s tapas” – but people were tired and hungry and we just needed to eat, and we’ll be here for many days with many chances for some great food) and back to the apartment for lots and lots of sleep, not sitting up straight in a narrow seat.

I got up earlier, as is my wont, and wandered. Later tonight I’ll have more impressions, but at this point – love. I love the vibe, look, roots and feel of European towns and cities anyway, so yeah, I’m good.

Just a couple of photos, and this observation first:

This church is around the corner from our apartment. The church part isn’t open yet this morning, but the courtyard is, and in the courtyard is a statue of St. Jude. I’ve walked by several times (pastries – milk – hand cream – no, I need body lotion, Mom – yogurt, applesauce….) and every time, people have been coming and going and standing and praying in front of St. Jude. They purchase candles and light them and bring lots and lots of flowers and stand and pray quietly, bringing the saint their needs that the world would call impossible, but with God through his saints – who knows?

St. Barnabas

amy-welbornPope Emeritus Benedict XVI, from a 2007 General Audience

(After B16 finished with these talks, a few publishers, including OSV, gathered them into volumes. I wrote a study guide for that OSV volume that is available as a pdf here. I maintain that these talks on both the Apostles and the Latin and Greek Fathers would be great parish adult religious education resources – if you agree, feel free to download and reprint the study guide. )

Continuing our journey among the protagonists who were the first to spread Christianity, today let us turn our attention to some of St Paul’s other collaborators. We must recognize that the Apostle is an eloquent example of a man open to collaboration: he did not want to do everything in the Church on his own but availed himself of many and very different colleagues.

We cannot reflect on all these precious assistants because they were numerous. It suffices to recall among the others, Epaphras (cf. Col 1: 7; 4: 12; Phlm 23); Epaphroditus (cf. Phil 2: 25; 4: 18), Tychicus (cf. Acts 20: 4; Eph 6: 21; Col 4: 7; II Tm 4: 12; Ti 3: 12), Urbanus (cf. Rm 16: 9), Gaius and Aristarchus (cf. Acts 19: 29; 20: 4; 27: 2; Col 4: 10). And women such as Phoebe, (Rom 16: 1), Tryphaena and Tryphosa (cf. Rom 16: 12), Persis, the mother of Rufus, whom Paul called “his mother and mine” (cf. Rom 16: 12-13), not to mention married couples such as Prisca and Aquila (cf. Rom 16: 3; I Cor 16: 19; II Tm 4: 19).

Among this great array of St Paul’s male and female collaborators, let us focus today on three of these people who played a particularly significant role in the initial evangelization: Barnabas, Silas, and Apollos.

Barnabas means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4: 36) or “son of consolation”. He was a Levite Jew, a native of Cyprus, and this was his nickname. Having settled in Jerusalem, he was one of the first to embrace Christianity after the Lord’s Resurrection. With immense generosity, he sold a field which belonged to him, and gave the money to the Apostles for the Church’s needs (Acts 4: 37).

It was he who vouched for the sincerity of Saul’s conversion before the Jerusalem community that still feared its former persecutor (cf. Acts 9: 27).

Sent to Antioch in Syria, he went to meet Paul in Tarsus, where he had withdrawn, and spent a whole year with him there, dedicated to the evangelization of that important city in whose Church Barnabas was known as a II-Barnabasprophet and teacher (cf. Acts 13: 1).

At the time of the first conversions of the Gentiles, therefore, Barnabas realized that Saul’s hour had come. As Paul had retired to his native town of Tarsus, he went there to look for him. Thus, at that important moment, Barnabas, as it were, restored Paul to the Church; in this sense he gave back to her the Apostle to the Gentiles.

The Church of Antioch sent Barnabas on a mission with Paul, which became known as the Apostle’s first missionary journey. In fact, it was Barnabas’ missionary voyage since it was he who was really in charge of it and Paul had joined him as a collaborator, visiting the regions of Cyprus and Central and Southern Anatolia in present-day Turkey, with the cities of Attalia, Perga, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe (cf. Acts 13-14).

Together with Paul, he then went to the so-called Council of Jerusalem where after a profound examination of the question, the Apostles with the Elders decided to discontinue the practice of circumcision so that it was no longer a feature of the Christian identity (cf. Acts 15: 1-35). It was only in this way that, in the end, they officially made possible the Church of the Gentiles, a Church without circumcision; we are children of Abraham simply through faith in Christ.

The two, Paul and Barnabas, disagreed at the beginning of the second missionary journey because Barnabas was determined to take with them as a companion John called Mark, whereas Paul was against it, since the young man had deserted them during their previous journey (cf. Acts 13: 13; 15: 36-40).

Hence there are also disputes, disagreements and controversies among saints. And I find this very comforting, because we see that the saints have not “fallen from Heaven”. They are people like us, who also have complicated problems.

Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness.

So it was that Paul, who had been somewhat harsh and bitter with regard to Mark, in the end found himself with him once again. In St Paul’s last Letters, to Philemon and in his Second Letter to Timothy, Mark actually appears as one of his “fellow workers”.

Consequently, it is not the fact that we have never erred but our capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness which makes us saints. And we can all learn this way of holiness. In any case, Barnabas, together with John Mark, returned to Cyprus (Acts 15: 39) in about the year 49. From that moment we lose track of him. Tertullian attributes to him the Letter to the Hebrews. This is not improbable. Since he belonged to the tribe of Levi, Barnabas may have been interested in the topic of the priesthood; and the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Jesus’ priesthood for us in an extraordinary way.

And, Fr. Steve Grunow:

One of the greatest desires we have is to be remembered, to be able to rest in a sense of accomplishments and receive recognition. True holiness delivers us from this inclination. For we are not called by the Lord to receive honors or even to see the great work of our lives to fruition. We give generously of what the Lord has given us, not because we will necessarily get something in return, but becasue in doing so we give praise to God and imitate the love by which he saved us.

Any memorial we seek for ourselves in this world passes away. What endures are faith, hope and love.

This spiritual truth should not only challenge us, but encourage us, for it means that everything is not simply dependent upon us. We are part of a greater purpose than our own ego, and a greater power than our own will moves us, shapes us and directs us toward our ultimate destiny.

On this feast of Barnabas, let us give praise to God for the life and destiny he has given us in Jesus Christ.

Looking ahead on the calendar a couple of days, you can read my entry for St. Anthony of Padua (June 13) from The Loyola Kids’ Book of Saints here. 

I am not a fan of Popes adding or subtracting items from the Church’s liturgical practices Just Because They Can – whether that be Luminous Mysteries, Divine Mercy Sunday, names in the Canon or what have you – and that includes today’s memorial, Mary, Mother of the Church – although it does fit. I’ll admit that.

But here we are!

So, in honor – you can grab my Mary and the Christian Life for $0 as an Amazon Kindle book until midnight tonight. (Just know that I’m limited in how many promotions of this sort I can give during any given time period. That’s why I’m stingy with them.)

Also, here’s the section intro page from The Loyola Kids Book of Catholic Signs and Symbols.

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