Posts Tagged ‘Francis of Assisi’

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St. Junipero Serra now….

Go here for more information. There’s a particularly good FAQ.

I read a good introduction to him in an older book called Adventurer Saints that I’d forgotten I owned. As Pope Francis said in his homily, St. Junipero’s life was marked by movement away from comfort zones – a university professor who left it all to minister in the New World amid tremendous physical suffering, he was all about bringing the love of Christ to the edges of the world, in love, not domination.

Siempre Adelante!

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One of the most fascinating elements of the missions to the New World -all of them, but especially the Franciscans and Jesuits in South America and the Southwest – was the importance of music.  You remember the role of music in The Mission, right? Well, it was that way for all the missions. In The Loyola KIds Book of Saints, I wrote about one missionary, St. Francis Solano, who saw the value of music in missionary work.

There is a lot out there written about music in the California missions, specifically. This might be a good start:

very mission had a library, carried on the schooling of Indian residents and provided instruction in the various manual arts. In addition, music instrument collections were amassed which involved organs, (barrel, reed and pipe), as well as string (violins, violoncellos, contrabass), woodwind (piccolos, flutes, oboes, clarinets), brass (trumpets and horns) and percussion instruments. Choirs and orchestras, in some cases of significant size and competence, were trained, often to a level of considerable proficiency. Visitors to the missions, as early as the closing years of the eighteenth century, commented upon the quality and scope of the music making at individual missions.

The sacred music of California that remains in manuscript form is the most extensive and diverse body of plainsong and polyphonic music to survive from any of Spain’s colonies in the contiguous forty-eight states. Much of the polyphonic music was brought to California from locations in Spain and Mexico, including the Convento de San Francisco, Palm, Mallorca and the Cathedral in Mexico City. The manuscript remains are preserved in ten different libraries and archives throughout California.

But it’s only a start…there’s so much out there, including music not just imported, but written in the New World. New World Baroque music is absolutely one of my favorite types of music to listen to.

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Chanticleer recorded an album of music from the California missions:

Speaking of the California missions, I’ve been to one: San Juan de Bautista (famous because of Vertigo, among other reasons.)  It’s so lovely. Here are some other images from that 2011 visit:

"amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

These are from 2011. I guess it was that trip I had an afternoon all mapped out to go to Carmel, where (now) St. Junipero is buried, but we got there and for some reason it was closed – it was Thanksgiving week, and I had checked the website to make sure it would be open, but lo and behold, we pulled up and saw several other people milling around the locked gates, peering through, trying to catch a glimpse of..something.  Should have called!

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It was interesting to me that all the controversy preceding this canonization seemed to have flattened out somehow. It’s odd that there was hardly any expectation that Pope Francis would address any controversy or disappointment/criticism that he didn’t. Teflon, I tell you!

It’s too bad, too,  because I don’t believe in whitewashing historical apologetics about any era of history, ecclesiastical or secular. The encounter between Europeans and the native peoples of the Americas has layers of complexity and nuance as cultures clash, and especially as the Gospel finds its way to human beings in need of it in the midst of a maze of empire, power and exploitation. That dynamic is worth a moment of attention, and that attention is not an “attack” on anything (well, it doesn’t have to be), but merely exploration and questioning. How do we serve people and minister to them without becoming accessories to the sinful structures that enable our presence and activity? What is that relationship all about?

Still pertinent questions.

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Homeschool book of the week is Adam of the Road – which is delightful and should be read in all late-elementary Catholic classrooms instead of the mostly prescriptive pap from secular textbooks that most of them unfortunately use.  It’s given us a chance to do history and geography, of course, but also to talk about various aspects of medieval Church life, including the monastery as a vibrant center of life in a society. Not closed-off, to be sure.

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Read a couple of books this week, for really no reason except because they were around:

Catholic Revivalism was a re-read, since I’d used it in college decades ago. But do you remember how I keep telling you about the importance of reading history?  Doing so is helpful in keeping you grounded, anchored between either thinking the present is the absolute worst or the fabulous best. Reading a book like Catholic Revivalism reminds you, in case you didn’t know, that Catholics were actually not indifferent to evangelization, outreach and personal faith before two minutes ago and  that pastoral ministers have been concerned about Catholics not practicing their faith and knowing zilch about it anyway forever.

Comforting? Depressing? Both? Maybe.

Oh, and The Girl on the Train. Was that it? There were a bunch of copies on the shelf at the library, I vaguely remembered that it’s popular, so I took a couple of nights a read it. I liked the set-up and I thought the protagonist’s alcoholism was a different twist and initially well-done, but then it got tedious and repetitive, the other characters were superficially drawn, and the whole thing got absurd, just as most books like that do.

I need to get me another Dorothy Hughes.  That would be far more interesting to write about, too.

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Don’t forget…St. Francis of Assisi in a week or so…get your books here or here!

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

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That first week of October is so saint-heavy…time to prepare…

The Novena to St. Therese of Lisieux begins today. It’s included in The Church’s Most Powerful Novenas. 

michael-dubruiel "michael dubruiel"

And then, of course, St. Francis….October 4. You can order Adventures in Assisi here.  

"amy welborn"

Published by Franciscan Media.

More information and background here 

More background on our trip to Assisi that inspired the book. 

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, from Germany in 2006. The homily mentions the feast at the end:

Today we celebrate the feast of the “Most Holy Name of Mary”. To all those women who bear that name – my own mother and my sister were among them, as the Bishop mentioned – I offer my heartfelt good wishes for their feast day. Mary, the Mother of the Lord, has received from the faithful the title of Advocate: she is our advocate before God. And this is how we see her, from the wedding-feast of Cana onwards: as a woman who is kindly, filled with maternal concern and love, a woman who is attentive to the needs of others and, out of desire to help them, brings those needs before the Lord. In today’s Gospel we have heard how the Lord gave Mary as a Mother to the beloved disciple and, in him, to all of us. In every age, Christians have received with gratitude this legacy of Jesus, and, in their recourse to his Mother, they have always found the security and confident hope which gives them joy in God and makes us joyful in our faith in him. May we too receive Mary as the lodestar guiding our lives, introducing us into the great family of God! Truly, those who believe are never alone. Amen!

John Paul II was in the Slovak Republic on 12/12 in 2003:

1. “My heart rejoices in the Lord” (Resp. psalm).  It is with deep joy and profound gratitude to God that I join you in this square, dear Brothers and Sisters, to celebrate today the memorial of the Holy Name of Mary.

The place where we are assembled is especially meaningful in the history of your city. It calls to mind the respect and devotion of your Ancestors towards Almighty God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the same time it recalls the attempt to profane this precious inheritance, perpetrated by a bleak regime of not so many years ago. To all of this the column of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a silent witness……

…..4. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).  Mary believes and therefore she says “yes”.  Her faith becomes life; it becomes a commitment to God, who fills her with himself through her divine motherhood.  It becomes a commitment to her neighbour, who awaits her help in the person of her cousin Elisabeth (cf. Lk 1:39-56).  Mary abandons herself freely and consciously to God’s initiative, which will achieve in her his “marvellous things”: mirabilia Dei.

With the Virgin Mary’s example before us, we are invited to reflect: God has a project for each of us, he “calls” everyone.  What is important is knowing how to recognise this call, how to accept it and how to be faithful to it. 

5. My dear Brothers and Sisters, let us make room for God!  In the variety and richness of diverse vocations, each one is called, like Mary, to accept God into one’s own life and to travel along the paths of the world with him, proclaiming his Gospel and bearing witness to his love.

May this be the resolution that we all make together today and that we place confidently in Mary’s maternal hands.  May her intercession obtain for us the gift of a strong faith that makes clear the scope of our life and enlightens our mind, our spirit and our heart. 

There are actually a lot of Marian feasts in September, aren’t there? Nativity of Mary (9/8), Our Lady of Sorrows (9/15) and today – Holy Name of Mary.  More on September with Mary here.

So…why not pray the rosary?

A bit more information here.

And then there’s a free book…

"amy welborn"

Go here for more information and to download.

Also…the feastday of St. Francis of Assisi is on its way..considering ordering Adventures in Assisi as a way to deepen your child’s understanding of St. Francis beyond the legends, helping them understand his core message of poverty and humility and what that actually means..

More here

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Why should you care?

Because the church cares.  Because this is how the Spirit, through this Church on earth, leads us to shape our lives.  Not according to the events of the day or the events that others have determined are the events of the day, or even according to what another individual – your favorite spiritual writer, the Spiritual Flavor of the Month or even the most serious Catholic in the World – tells you.

First comes the .shape of the liturgical year. That is the center of our prayer.  The prayers that the Holy Spirit, through the Church gives us.

Paul says, “We do not know how to pray as we ought.”  And in that context (Romans 8:26), he says that the Spirit helps us in that very weakness.

And how? In many ways, but fundamentally, at root, through the warp and woof of this Church that the Spirit breathed into life on Pentecost. If we do not know how to pray as we ought, we begin with the prayer of the Church – the liturgical year, the Office, the Mass.

I once was part of a spiritual experience that included daily morning and evening prayer for a few days.  What surprised me about this Catholic experience was that the shape of the prayer was determined by the leader who, guitar in hand, decided what Scriptures would be the focus of the group’s twice-daily prayer, what music would be sung and what other prayers would be said.  This daily prayer of this Catholic experience never had any reference to the daily Mass readings or any saints or feasts of the day, much less any of the prayers from the liturgy of the Hours.  It was all very sincere, but the understanding of “Spirit-led” struck me as repetitive, lacking in depth or connection to the richness of Catholic spirituality, and far too dependent on one individual’s will.

Anyway, don’t think I am suggesting you read the Office everyday. It’s just a good thing to know about, I say Prime in the morning and sometimes I say Compline at night but usually I don’t. But anyway I like parts of my prayers to stay the same and part to change. So many prayer books are awful, but if you stick with the liturgy, you are safe.

-Flannery O’Connor

Mission experience.

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We’re back. Got back last Saturday, with no issues. I’m very slowly but definitely surely blogging my way through the trip.  Hey, I’m up to the evening of the second day.  Go me!

Just go backwards to catch up.

"amy welborn"

The Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley.  Those are dried, hard, sharp salt formations. 

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Back to the podcasts. This week, I have started catching up with my BBC radio podcasts once again. The first I cracked open was an excellent program on Matteo Ricci – if you go here and scroll down to April 16, you’ll find the downloadable version. 

It was balanced in a way that you so rarely find in either American media or among Catholics in discussing figures like Ricci, who would most of the time be placed in either a contemporary black or white hat, his missionary techniques evaluated in terms of modern ideologies and sensibilities.  This program doesn’t fall into that trap, and as a result, was quite illuminating. In short, people who don’t know much might fling about Ricci’s story as a model for Excellence in Inculturating Missionaries, but when you look at the whole picture…perhaps not.  He did what he did for his own reasons, and they weren’t terrible reasons, but he actually wasn’t as radical as is often implied and there were legitimate questions about his angle that aren’t simply about “fear” or Latin-centric bigotry.

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I also listened to a program on the California Gold Rush (scroll down to April 2), which meshed well with one of this week’s reads – The Rush by Edward Dolnick.  So yes, I learned a lot about the California Gold Rush this week, thanks much.

The book is an easy, absorbing read. It’s a history told mostly through focusing on first-person narratives left by gold seekers themselves, so don’t go to it looking for a comprehensive economic, political and social history – although all the important points are certainly covered. As in the best books of this kind, there are delightful surprises, as in the story of Jennie Megquier, who left Maine with her husband in response to the Call of Gold, leaving three (not tiny, but still) children behind with friends and family. They took the sea route, sailing down to Panama, crossing the isthmus, then waiting for another ship to take them up to California. Unlike many others who found the Panamanian element of the journey horrific, she loved it and gleefully reported each monkey and snake sighting, each odd meal, in letters to her children back in Maine.

Other stories of the journey – those going overland – are filled with much more hardship and tragedy. And yes, foolishness, but, in the context of the time, understandable foolishness.

It’s a fascinating story, this tale of Gold Fever.  It drew people from all over the world, including China, Hawaii, Ireland and Australia. It created the myth of California.  The Gold Rush impacted California’s statehood, voted on just two years after the territory had been wrested from Mexico, and the course, in the future, of the Civil War, as it broke the then-balance and was voted in as a free state. The environmental impact was devastating, as noted even at the time, as were the consequences for Native Americans.

A picky note, though.  The California Gold Rush wasn’t the first in the history of the United States. Preceding it by twenty years was a smaller, but still powerful rush for gold in the lower Appalachian mountains, especially in Georgia – Dahlonega and Villa Rica both claim “first, ” although I think the former has the stronger claim.  Thousands came to mine, and a branch of the US Mint was even established in Dahlonega, aBut nd it was there that many of the California miners who returned East brought their gold before the San Francisco mint was opened.  I thought of this because Dolnick writes, in relation to California mining, of the innovation of assaulting hillsides with water in attempts to wash out gold, but this was attempted several years before in Georgia, as well.

But moving on from that regionally-motivated nitpicking, it’s a good read and a useful reminder that human nature doesn’t change.  It’s just that our times magnify and enable the worst parts of us.  Thanks, technology!

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One book that I will be writing about at length next week – hey, I even took notes – was a sort-of “lost” 19th century novel called The Damnation of Theron Ware – you can get started by reading Jonathan Yardley’s column on it here. It’s a startlingly contemporary-reading novel about a young Methodist minister who loses his faith. I have said before that one reason I enjoy reading older fiction is that through it, I can get a “contemporary” glimpse into worlds in which I’m interested unfiltered by academic historians’ choices and biases.  So in this novel, a crucial element in his loss of faith is his first real encounter with Catholics and Catholicism. It’s pretty interesting and surprising.  But more on that next week.

Another good thing about these older novels? Free.  Go the Internet Archive, and you can download it and read away.  I download it in Kindle format and read it on the app on my Ipad. 

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Planning for your parish for 2015-16?

Maybe this for adult Bible study?

Or The Words We Pray for a study/discussion/prayer group?

Or the Prove It books for youth ministry?

And really thinking ahead….Adventures in Assisi for October? Bambinelli Sunday for Christmas?

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Back in business.

"amy welborn"

I figure since he’s slaving away, learning it, I should learn it, too.  I’m only going to be able to keep up this charade for another year or so, I fear.  He’s moving pretty quickly  – ten years old, about to start his third year of piano instruction, and this is where he is? Yeah, I’ll soon be left in the dust.

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Read this obituary of a local man who passed away this week.  John Wright, Jr. was one of the first people I remember really speaking with here – that first fall, Mike and I did several adult ed sessions at our parish, and he was one of the coordinators and often taught classes himself, usually on some aspect of social justice.  He had a magnificent voice (he did quite a bit of acting), a huge heart, and, as I said, a passion for justice which lead him on such paths as moving his family to Selma for a time in the 60’s, researching and bringing into brighter light the story of Fr.James Coyle, shot in 1921 on the Cathedral rectory steps for marrying the daughter of a Klansman-minister to a Puerto Rican man , and, this past year, as he lost the ability to drive, coming into the public eye a strong advocate for public transportation. 

Requiescat in pace…

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

"amy welborn"

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.

"amy welborn"

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Rome Reports did a nice short piece on the book:

In case you missed it, here’s an interview Ann Engelhart did with NetTV (Diocese of Brooklyn) about Adventures in Assisi, .from her home studio.

And here’s Ann from last year on Telecare television (Diocese of Rockville Centre) talking about Bambinelli Sunday

Remember you can purchase copies of these books signed by both of us at my bookstore.

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