Posted in Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Apostles, Bible, Bible Study, Catholic, Catholicism, Christian, Easter, Eternity, evangelization, Faith, history, Holy Week, Jesus, Joseph Dubruiel, Lent, Liturgy, Matthew 25, Michael Dubruiel, Morality, prayer, Religion, Spirituality, Vintage Catholic, tagged Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Bible, Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Church, Good Friday, Holy Week, Jesus, Michael Dubruiel, Reading, Vintage Catholic on April 13, 2017| Leave a Comment »
Posted in Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Birmingham, Catholic, Catholicism, Catholicsim, Christian, Church, Eucharist, evangelization, Faith, Good Friday, Gospels, history, Holy Week, Jesus, Joseph Dubruiel, Lent, Life, Liturgy, Matthew 25, Michael Dubruiel, Mission, Pope, prayer, RCIA, Religion, sacraments, Saints, Septuagesima Sunday, Spirituality, Works of Mercy, tagged Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Church, faith, Good Friday, history, Lent, Lent 2017, Lent Daily Devotional, Michael Dubruiel, Septuagesima Sunday on February 25, 2017| 3 Comments »
I have been on a bit of a hobby horse about pre-Lent. And yes, I am still on it.
In reading over some older devotional materials (more on that in the next post) and thinking about this Sunday’s Mass readings, the problem (one of them) clicked into place in a very simple way.
Lent begins next Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. Which means tomorrow is the last Sunday before Lent begins. What are the Mass readings?
They are the readings of the 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Gospel:: Matthew 6, continuing our reading of the Sermon on the Mount which has been going on for a couple of weeks.
(Remember there were only two readings)
Corinthians 13:1-13 – ….but do not have love…
Gospel: Luke 18:31-43
At that time Jesus took unto Him the twelve and said to them: Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man. For He shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and scourged and spit upon: and after they have scourged Him, they will put Him to death, and the third day He shall rise again.
And they understood none of these things, and this word was hid from them, and they understood not the things that were said.
Now it came to pass, when He drew nigh to Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the wayside, begging. And when he heard the multitude passing by, he asked what this meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying: Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. And they that went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace. But he cried out much more: Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus standing, commanded him to be brought unto Him. And when he was come near, He asked him, saying: What wilt thou that I do to thee? But he said: Lord, that I may see. And Jesus said to him: Receive thy sight, thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he saw and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
So the entire Catholic world would hear these Scriptures , not just whatever happens to be the readings of that last Sunday of Ordinary Time, but these Scriptures (and Propers and prayers) specifically and organically evolved with the coming of Lent in view.
(Catholics who participate in the Extraordinary Form or the Anglican Ordinariate still experience this form of pre-Lent, and of course Eastern Rite Catholics have their own form as well, with set readings that don’t change from year to year.)
In that older post I highlight the work of scholar Dr. Lauren Pristas, who wrote an essay detailing the thought and politics that went into the elimination of pre-Lent in the Latin Rite. As I say there, the conclusion is essentially that it was too hard for us poor lay folk to keep it all straight and stay focused.
Unintended consequences, anyone? Not to speak of weirdly wrong thinking. Pistas entitled her essay “Parachuting into Lent” and that is exactly the effect, isn’t it?
The best-intentioned post-Conciliar reformers (in contrast to those who simply didn’t believe any of the stuff anymore) seemed to me to be operating from the assumption that the Church’s life and practice as it had developed over time functioned as an obstacle to deeply authentic faith, and that what was needed was a loosening of all this so that Catholics would develop a more adult faith, rooted in free response rather than adherence to structures.
Well, you know how it is. You know how it is when, on one day out of a million you have a blank slate in front of you? No rigid walls hemming you in? No kids to pick up, you don’t have to work, no one’s throwing obligations and tasks at you? And you think, Wow…a whole day free. I’m going to get so much done!
And then it’s the end of the day, and you realize that maybe what you had thought were restrictions were really guides and maybe not so bad because you look back on your Day Without Walls and you wonder…wait, how many cat videos did I watch today? Do I even want to know?
Where’s my parachute?
Posted in Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, art, Bible, blogging, Catholic, Catholicism, Christian, Church, cooking, education, Ephemera, evangelization, Faith, Food, Good Friday, history, Jesus, Joseph Dubruiel, Lent, Life, Michael Dubruiel, Mission, prayer, Spirituality, tagged Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Ash Wednesday, Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, food, Good Friday, history, Lent, Lent 2017, Michael Dubruiel, Vintage Catholic on February 23, 2017| 28 Comments »
What to cook for those Lenten meals? Such a dilemma!
Me, I always have dreams of various interesting vegetable-based stews and soups, but you know what it always ends up being?
Cheese pizza. Lots and lots of cheese pizza. With maybe some pancakes and eggs tossed in there for variety.
For some reason, I went on a bit of a rabbit trail last night..I have no idea how I happened to think that there might be a treasure trove of Lenten-themed vintage food advertisements out there…but there is. It’s at an advertising design archive website, and, yes, there is a “Lent” keyword, although several of the ads in that category are Valentine-themed, but who knows.
But then I thought, Wait. The Era of Regrettable Food was also pre-Vatican II…when Catholics abstained from meat every Friday anyway…what were the Lenten regulations right before the Council? Why would Lent-themed advertising even be a thing if Catholics were going meatless on Fridays all year?
Turns out that it was: fasting every day of Lent except Sunday, of course, fasting and abstaining from meat on all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, and on the other days, meat allowed in one of those “one regular and two small meals” of the fasting days. So that explains the advertising directed at helping the cook be creative within those constraints since less meat would be consumed…hence Lima Loaf.
(Too bad they changed that. Really. It lends a sense of greater body/soul continuity to the season, in my mind. It’s also kind of insulting that they thought we couldn’t handle that mild of a regime any longer, but what else is new. )
Of course, not all of this is regrettable. Some is just quite normal – vegetable soups, hot cross buns and pancakes and such. Some is surprising – using Lent to even advertise peanuts! – and a reminder of a time in which religious practice was just considered…normal and as amenable to commercial exploitation as any other part of life!
So enjoy, and may these be an inspiration…
of what not to cook during Lent, that is….
(You should be able to right click on each ad for a larger version)
Bring on the Velveeta Jelly Omelet and the Tuna Fritters with Cheese Sauce!
Even peanuts get in the Lent game!
Posted in Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Apostles, art, Bible, Bible Study, Catholic, Catholicism, Cross, De-Coding Mary Magdalene, Faith, Gospels, history, Holy Week, Mary Magdalene, Michael Dubruiel, Mission, Our Sunday Visitor, Pentecost, Saints, Spirituality, Travel, tagged Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Be Saints, Bible, Bible Study, Catholic, Catholic books, Catholicism, faith, Good Friday, Jesus, Michael Dubruiel, Our Sunday Visitor, religion, saints on July 19, 2016|
As I mentioned yesterday, this week, in anticipation of the July 22 feast, I’ll be posting excerpts from my book De-Coding Mary-Magdalene, published by OSV a few years ago, now out of print. When a book goes out of print, the rights revert to the author, who can do what she wishes with it. And what I want to do is share it with you!
If you want to download a pdf of the entire book, just go here. Feel free to refer others, and if you like, to use it as the basis of a parish study or discussion group.
‘WHY ARE YOU WEEPING?’
Luke is the only evangelist to mention Mary Magdalene before the Passion narratives, but once those events are set in motion, Mary is a constant presence in all of the Gospels, without exception. For the first few centuries of Christian life, it is her role in these narratives that inspired the most interest and produced the earliest ways of describing Mary Magdalene: “Myrrh-bearer” and “Equal-to-the-Apostles.”
At the Cross
In both Matthew (27:55) and Mark (15:40-41), Mary Magdalene is named first in the list of women watching Jesus’ execution.
Luke doesn’t name the women at the cross, but he does identify them as those who had “followed him from Galilee.” John also mentions her presence (19:25), but his account highlights the presence of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ words commending her to John’s care.
After Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross, Mary and the other women are still there. Matthew (27:61) and Mark (15:47) both specifically mention her as seeing where Jesus’ body was laid, and Luke again refers to the “women . . . from Galilee” (23:55), whose identity we are expected to understand from Luke’s early mention of their names in chapter 8.
Finally, as the Sabbath passes and the first day of the week dawns, the women still remain, and the Twelve are still nowhere in sight. Matthew describes Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (not the mother of Jesus, but probably the Mary, mother of James and Joseph, whom he had mentioned in 27:56) coming to “see” the tomb. Mark and Luke get more specific, saying that the women have come to anoint Jesus’ body. John, interestingly enough, in chapter 20, ignores any other women, and focuses on Mary Magdalene. She comes to see the tomb, finds the stone moved and the tomb empty, and runs to tell Peter.
At least one early critic of Christianity seized on Mary Magdalene’s witness as discrediting. As quoted by the Christian writer Origen,the second-century philosopher Celsus called her a “half-frantic woman” (Contra Celsus, Book II: 59), thereby calling into doubt the truth of her testimony of the empty tomb.
What is striking about John’s account is that even though Peter and others do indeed run to the tomb at Mary’s news and see it empty, that is all they see. They return, and after they have gone away, Mary remains, alone at the tomb, weeping. It is at this point that, finally, the risen Jesus appears.
Of course, Jesus appears to Mary and other women in the Synoptic Gospels as well. In Matthew (chapter 28), an angel first gives them the news that Jesus has risen from the dead. The women then depart to tell the Twelve, and on the way they meet Jesus, they worship him, and he instructs them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.
In Mark (chapter 16), they meet the angel first as well, and receive the same message as Matthew describes, and are, unlike the joy described by Matthew, “afraid.” (Fear and lack of understanding on the part of disciples is a strong theme in Mark’s Gospel, by the way.)
Mark presents us with a bit of a problem, because the oldest full manuscripts of Mark, dating from the fourth century, end at 16:8, with the women afraid, and with no appearance of the risen
Mark presents us with a bit of a problem, because the oldest full manuscripts of Mark, dating from the fourth century, end at 16:8, with the women afraid, and with no appearance of the risen Jesus described. Manuscripts of a century later do contain the rest of the Gospel as we know it, continuing the story, emphasizing Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene, and identifying her as the one from whom he had exorcised seven demons. She sees him, she reports to the others, and they don’t believe it. Jesus then appears to “two of them” (perhaps an allusion to the encounter on the road to Emmaus we read about in Luke 24) who then, again, report the news to the Twelve who, again, do not believe it. Finally, Jesus appears to the disciples when they are at table, and as is normal in the Gospel of Mark, their faithlessness is remarked upon.
Some modern scholars suggest that Mark 16:8 is the “real” ending of this Gospel, which would mean that it contains no Resurrection account. Others, including the Anglican Bishop N. T. Wright, a preeminent scholar of the New Testament, argue that when one looks at Mark as a whole, it is obviously building up to the Resurrection,including prophecies from Jesus himself. Wright theorizes that the original ending was perhaps lost (the ends of scrolls were particularly susceptible to damage), and that what we have now is an attempt by a later editor to patch up that lost ending, but not in a way inconsistent with Mark’s intentions.
The theme of disbelief also runs through Luke. Interestingly enough, this Gospel doesn’t recount an encounter between the women (who are finally again specifically identified) and Jesus, but only the appearance of “two men” in “dazzling apparel,” who remind them of Jesus’ prophecies of his death and resurrection. The women, no longer afraid, go to the apostles, who, of course, dismiss their tale as idle chatter.
What’s clear in these Synoptic Gospels is, first, the strong sense of historical truth about the accounts. Rationalist skeptics would like to dismiss the Resurrection as a fabrication, but if it is, then the storytellers did a terrible job, didn’t they?
After all, if you were creating a myth that would be the origins of your new religion, would you write something in which the central characters — the first leaders of this same religion — were so filled with fear and doubt that they appeared weak?
If you were making up the story of the Resurrection from scratch, you would, as a person living in the first century, in the Roman Empire, and presumably as a Jew, only be able to think about this resurrection business in the terms and concepts available to you. And, as N. T. Wright has so ably demonstrated in The Resurrection of the Son of God (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2003), even the first-century Jewish world, which did believe in a resurrection of the body, saw it in completely different terms — that it would eventually happen to everyone, at once, at the end of time (Wright, pp. 200-206).
And in general, when you read over the Resurrection accounts in the Gospels, you are immersed in an account in which people are afraid, confused, in awe, and eventually profoundly overjoyed. There is a veil drawn over the core event — the Resurrection itself is never described because, of course, none of the witnesses saw it.
They saw the empty tomb, and they saw the risen Jesus. A clever fabricator and mythmaker would not have woven his account with such nuance, and would probably have offered a direct account of the event itself, perhaps even with a clear explanation of what it all meant. But that’s not what we read, and somehow, ironically, all of the confusion and human frailty is powerful evidence for the truth of the account.
Most importantly for us, a first-century mythmaker would not have featured women as the initial witnesses of these formative events. It is inaccurate to say that first-century Jews did not accept women as reliable witnesses at all. There was, of course, no unified system of law within Judaism, and what was practiced was dependent upon which rabbi’s interpretation of the Law was used. Some rabbis did, indeed, hold the opinion that women were not reliable witnesses, but others disagreed and counted a woman’s witness equal to a man’s.
However, the fact that a woman’s reliability as a witness was disputed, unclear, and not consistently accepted, would, it seems, discourage a fabricator from using women as his source of information that the tomb was indeed empty. It certainly wouldn’t be the first choice to come to mind if your aim was to present a story that was easily credible, would it?
“[And] so that the apostles [the women] did not doubt the angels,Christ himself appeared to them,so that the women are Christ’s apostles and compensate through their obedience for the sin of the first Eve. . . . Eve has become apostle. . . . So that the women did not appear liars but bringers of truth, Christ appeared to the [male] apostles and said to them: It is truly I who appeared to these women and who desired to send them to you as apostles.” (Hippolytus, third century, quoted in Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor, by Susan Haskins [Berkley, 1997], pp. 62-63)
‘Noli Me Tangere’
John’s account of Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearance to Mary in chapter 20 adds more detail than the Synoptics. She comes to the tomb while it is still dark — recall how John’s Gospel begins, with the wonderful hymn describing the Word bringing light into the darkness — and she sees that it is empty, and then runs to get the disciples. Peter and another disciple come to the tomb, see it for themselves, but leave, since, as John says, they didn’t yet understand “the scripture” — perhaps the Hebrew Scriptures as they would be later understood by Christians.
Mary stays, though, weeping ( John 20:11). She peers into the tomb (the level of detail in this account is fascinating) and sees two “angels in white” who ask her why she is crying. She says, sadly, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” ( John 20:13). She then turns and sees another figure; we are told it’s Jesus, but she doesn’t know until he speaks her name ( John 20:16)
One of the more well-known moments in this account comes in John 20:17, when Jesus says to Mary, in the famous Latin rendering of the words, “Noli me tangere,” which has commonly been translated, “Do not touch me.”This, however, is not the most accurate translation — either in Latin or English — of the Greek, which really means something like, “Do not cling to me” or “Do not retain me.”
So, no, Jesus is not engaging in misogynistic behavior here. Nor is he (as some modern commentators suggest) alluding to a supposed former intimate relationship between him and Mary. This is not about touching; it is about understanding who Jesus is and what his mission is. After all, Thomas is invited to touch the wounds of Jesus in John 20:27. No, Jesus tells Mary to let go of him, to look beyond the moment, to the future. After all, his very next words direct her to go to the apostles and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” ( John 20:17). Knowing Jesus for who he is, we cannot stand still. We have to move, get out, and share the marvelous news that in Jesus the barriers between humanity and God are dissolved.
Which, of course, Mary Magdalene does. All of the evangelists agree that she was the first to announce this Good News to the apostles, who, more often than not, responded with skepticism.
But such is the way it has always been. God always chooses the least in the world’s eyes, the unexpected and the despised, to do his most important work. To see this event only through the prism of politics, and to be inspired by it to think only about gender roles and such, is to be willfully blinded to the greater reality: Jesus lives, Jesus saves, and as we are touched by this truth, we are, at the same time, called to go out and share it.
Mary of the Bible
Mary Magdalene’s future in Christian spirituality and iconography is rich, evocative, and even confusing, as we’ll see in subsequent chapters. But it all begins here, with powerful simplicity and themes that will resonate through the centuries.
Mary Magdalene, healed of possession, responds to Jesus with a life of faithful discipleship. As spiritual writers and theologians will point out, she’s like the Bride in the Song of Songs. She’s like the Church itself, called by Christ out of bondage to the evils that pervade our world, giving ourselves over to him in gratitude, waiting with hope by the tomb, even when all seems lost, and rewarded, in a small, grace-filled moment, when, in the midst of darkness, we hear him call our name.
Questions for Reflection
- What does Mary’s desire to hold on to Jesus symbolize to you? How do you experience this in your own life?
- Why is Mary referred to as “Apostle to the Apostle
- What can Mary’s fidelity teach you about your own relation-ship to Jesus?
Posted in Alabama, Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Birmingham, Catholic, Catholicism, Easter, education, Good Friday, Holy Week, Jesus, Michael Dubruiel, prayer, RCIA, tagged Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Catholic, Easter, Easter Vigil, faith, Faith Formation, Good Friday, Jesus, Michael Dubruiel, religion, saints, travel on March 28, 2016|
A quick rundown of last week, which was all over the place, liturgy-wise.
Palm Sunday and the Good Friday service were at St. Barnabas, a small parish that is not too far from us – a little farther than the Cathedral, but still, maybe just three miles. I admit – freely– that we attended those liturgies at that parish for reasons related to time. No shame. The Sunday Mass time (10) is quite convenient (the *best* Mass time, IMHO) and on Friday, for various reasons, we couldn’t get to the 3pm service at the Cathedral, so that left us with evening services, wherever we could find one. It’s a small church, so things like the procession with Palms and the Veneration of the Cross would not be as long as they would be in other, larger parishes, and at this point, we’ll take it. I don’t get protests – at all – but given the boys’ serving responsibilities and the heaviness of the Triduum, a small parish doing it simply and doing it right is a very good thing to experience.
Holy Thursday at the Cathedral with the fitting, amazing music we are spoiled with there.
Good Friday, in addition to the nighttime service, we got to the Stations of the Cross at the Cathedral at noon. A permanent deacon led the stations, while three priests heard confessions during the service. Penitents lined against the walls.
Visiting family responsibilities precluded the Vigil this year, but the boys served at Casa Maria Convent and Retreat House.
Excellent, well-prepared homilies all-round – I mean, homilies that were obviously the fruit of close study, preparation and a keen pastoral sensitivity. And all preached from a prepared text. It’s fine.
Related to Catholic Things in Birmingham, Alabama, of course you know that after many, many years of stroke-related disability, most of which she has been in the cloister in care of her sisters, Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday.
By far the best commentary so far is Bishop Robert Barron’s:
I can attest that, in “fashionable” Catholic circles during the eighties and nineties of the last century, it was almost de rigueur to make fun of Mother Angelica. She was a crude popularizer, an opponent of Vatican II, an arch-conservative, a culture-warrior, etc., etc. And yet while her critics have largely faded away, her impact and influence are uncontestable. Against all odds and expectations, she created an evangelical vehicle without equal in the history of the Catholic Church. Starting from, quite literally, a garage in Alabama, EWTN now reaches 230 million homes in over 140 countries around the world. With the possible exception of John Paul II himself, she was the most watched and most effective Catholic evangelizer of the last fifty years.
I reached the point on the Current Project in which, within the space of a day, I transitioned from despair to complete confidence – in meeting the deadline, that is. well, the second deadline, that is – after spring break made it clear that the first deadline was impossible. It’s a good feeling – not as good as finishing the thing and getting it out of my brain forever, but almost.
What messed me up as, not only spring break, but the structure of this year’s spring break, which must be divided between San Diego and Charleston.
So, yes, I’m typing this on a plane, presently descending into Houston, and from there on to San Diego, here I’ll be speaking at the Catholic Library Association and signing books for both OSV and Loyola at NCEA– so if you know anyone who will be at either convention, tell them to stop by and say hi!
Posted in Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Birmingham, Catholic, Catholicism, Faith, Good Friday, Jesus, Michael Dubruiel, Saints, Vintage Catholic, tagged Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Catholic, Catholic books, Catholicism, Good Friday, Jesus, Michael Dubruiel, Stations of the Cross, Vintage Catholic on April 3, 2015| 1 Comment »
Posted in Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Arizona, Catholic, Catholicism, Faith, Good Friday, Holy Week, Michael Dubruiel, Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Religion, Stations of the Cross, Travel, tagged 2005, Amy Welborn, Amy Welborn's Books, Arizona, Good Friday, Holy Week, Michael Dubruiel, Pope, Pope Francis, Pope John Paul II, Stations of the Cross, travel on April 1, 2015|
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?
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.
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:
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.
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:
I think this is my favorite:
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?