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December 1st, 2008

Return to the Advent calendar.
Advent Quotable
While serving in the French army in 1940, Jean-Paul Sartre, the existentialist philosopher and playwright, was captured by Germans and placed in a prisoner of war camp. Before Christmas, a fellow-prisoner named Paul Feller who was a Jesuit, persuaded Sartre to write a Christmas play for the Christians imprisoned with them. By 1940, Sartre—who had been baptized a Catholic—was a declared atheist, but he agreed to the request out of a sense of solidarity with the other prisoners. The following is a brief excerpt from the resulting play, called “Bar-Jona,” in which Sartre offers a moving reflection on the Virgin Mother and her newborn son, Jesus.…

November 30th, 2008
Where does the idea for an Advent wreath come from?

Return to the Advent calendar.
Advent Fast Fact…
The Advent wreath actually has pre-Christian Germanic origins. During the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice) people used wreathes with lit candles as a sign of hope that the warmth of the sun and extended-sunlight days would soon return. In Scandinavia during winter, lighted candles were added to a wheel. Prayers were then offered to the god of light to turn “the wheel of the earth” back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth.

Today’s Prize is: a Sirius-XM Hat and Knapsack.
This day’s contest is over. The winner was: Mari A. of Philadelphia, PA
If you enter our drawing using the form below, your entry will

November 25th, 2008
Surprising Info and Prizes on EACH DAY of Advent




























The Grand Prize drawing in our Advent Surprise Calendar contest — a Sirius Sportster 5 Satellite Radio with car and home installation kits plus a free six-month subscription to Sirius Satellite Radio (a value of over $200) — will be conducted Friday night / Saturday morning at 3 a.m. EST. Enter in today’s calendar posting.
Remember, all valid entries for a daily prize received between November 30 and 3 a.m. EST December 20th will be eligible to win our random drawing for the grand prize. There is no limit to the number of times you can enter (each entry however must be accompanied by the…

September 17th, 2008
Busted Halo® Contributors Sound Off On What They're Reading On The Web Right Now

Busted Halo’s® contributors are an eclectic bunch of media-lovers who spend a good deal of their time checking out what is going on all over the web—from blogs and videos to what’s being covered in the mainstream press. If you like the content, approach and tone of Busted Halo, this new department will give you an opportunity to see what the people behind the Halo are reading out there in the cybersphere, blogosphere…and anything-else-sphere they might come across. It’s also a chance for us to highlight other great sites, writers etc that we love but don’t have the chance tell you about most of the time. We’ll be updating “We’re Reading…” often…

April 23rd, 2008
Paulist Productions launch their first web-based series

The Paulist Fathers, who founded and continue to sponsor BustedHalo® have a long and distinguished reputation for being at the forefront of the convergence of faith, media and technology. Paulist Press, whose founding dates back to 1888, became one of the leading publisher of hardcover and paperback books. While in 1960, the late Father Ellwood “Bud” Kieser founded Paulist Productions in Los Angeles that went on to produce award-winning television series and feature-length films.
The distinctions between “new” media—the internet—and more traditional forms are, of course, quickly disappearing. (BustedHalo® is continuing to work more with video and has also partnered with…

April 22nd, 2008
Spirituality for the Sleep-Deprived

Lately I feel like my brain is on holiday. I find myself wandering the supermarket unable to remember exactly what I’m supposed to be shopping for, reaching the end of a newspaper article and having no idea what I’ve just read.
It has to be the sleep deprivation. A few happy, isolated incidents aside, I haven’t had more than five hours of uninterrupted shut-eye since my daughter was born six months ago. Maybe once she gets the hang of not waking me up at three in the morning I’ll get back to some good, serious thinking. For now my brain’s stuck on diaper rash remedies, dirty laundry, the absolute adorableness of little baby toes.
My previous multisyllabic lifeI used to be a lot deeper.…

December 23rd, 2006

Paulist Father Dave Dwyer, CSP will be the host and on-air commentator for this year’s Midnight Mass from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Dwyer, who is the publisher of BustedHalo.com, also hosts a daily radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio weekdays 7-9pm EST. The Mass is being broadcast by WPIX, Ch 11 in NYC, but it will also be carried by selected affiliates throughout the country.
Check your local listings.…

July 8th, 2004
Where Everybody Knew Your Name

Sometimes my parish priest starts mass by asking us to look around and introduce ourselves to one or two people we don’t know. The exchanges that follow are awkward and brief—a little forced, like when you went to the family reunion as a kid and your mom made you kiss some old auntie you’d never seen before.
But someone has to help us get to know one another. We aren’t doing a great job of it on our own. I’ve been to a few churches like this now, where people hurry out the door as soon as the last song ends, where the people you see every Sunday remain strangers.
The tavern at ten
It’s nice to have real friends at church. I used to have some—friends whose homes I visited, who brought me flowers…

December 1st, 2003
My Love-Hate Affair with the Winter

I am standing at my kitchen sink, gazing out the window as the afternoon sun dissolves into the sky. I am supposed to be peeling potatoes for supper but I can’t stop watching the sunset—or the way there is no sunset, really, but only a dreary washing out of color, daylight fading into grayness. So why am I transfixed?
It seems it’s been this way for months, dark at five p.m., the ground covered in a tired layer of snow, though it’s only November.
F.S.C.S.—Future Snowbirds of Canada SocietyI have no patience for winter anymore. I’m so tired of slipping on sidewalks, of bundling kids into parkas and listening to weather forecasters go on about how exposed skin will freeze in thirty seconds.…

August 17th, 2003
The Muddy Emotions Watching a Toddler in the Terrible Twos

Did you see that kid in the Wal-Mart a while back, the two-year-old flailing about red-faced and sobbing in the shopping buggy?
He might have belonged to me.
PDA’s—public displays of agitationA few months ago we reached a point where we couldn’t step foot in any public place without my son going through some degree of meltdown. He found endless things worth getting hysterical about—not being allowed to play in the clothing racks, the strange smell wafting through the public restroom. I reacted uselessly, hissing hushed warnings, threatening immediate trips home.
It was just so embarrassing, the public display of it all, the other shoppers’ dirty looks.
Much worse, I was growing uneasy…

July 28th, 2003
A Young Mother Confronting the Hordes of Baby Products

I’ve never really been one for shopping, but after I learned I was pregnant with my first child, I started looking forward to all the impending trips to the malls and department stores. What fun hubby and I would have browsing for crib bedding and tiny little clothes.
The big yellow bookI bought myself a big yellow book to guide me through the process. It described all the products we would need to make our home fit for baby’s arrival, beginning with the array of options available for diapering and moving without pause through the cradles, car seats, strollers, high chairs, change tables, bottles, bottle warmers; things for swinging, toting, bouncing, cleaning, and rocking baby; things that would…

June 15th, 2003
The Quieter National Pride of Canada Day

I’m relieved July 1 falls on a Tuesday this year, unattached to a weekend. It means, yay, that I won’t have to mark the Canada Day holiday by accompanying my husband on a three-night excursion to his parents’ lakeside “cabin.”
No toilet, no wayThere’s no way I’m up for lugging my two-year-old son and eight-months-pregnant belly off on a prolonged visit to a place with no running water or beds fit for sleeping. Yeah, the fresh air’s nice and the scenery is lovely, but right now I’m just too fat and uncomfortable to care. I’d be more gung-ho if there was an actual toilet.
My husband is among the many Canadians who love spending our country’s birthday…

April 20th, 2003
The Unexpected Wonder of Expecting

My two-year-old presses his ear to the bulge that is my belly.
“She’s not big enough yet,” he informs me, his diagnosis delivered with tiny confidence.
“What will happen when she’s big enough?” I ask.
“She’ll come out,” he says.
I have over three months left in this pregnancy, but already I feel huge and uncomfortable. I dread stepping on the scale and seeing the inevitable upward curve of the little black numbers. When I lament to my husband he pinches the fat newly layered on my arm, thinking I will find him cute. I snarl and make him drive me to Dairy Queen.
But those are the bad days, the times I give in to fixating on the minor inconveniences of helping God…

February 20th, 2003
Cinematic Evil and the Real Thing

One weekend afternoon when I was a kid, the 1958 film The Blob came on TV. Maybe my mother shouldn’t have let me watch it. That scene where the terrified crush of young patrons spills from the movie theater, the murderous blob oozing after them, became one of my earliest movie memories.
The blob was so grisly and unstoppable. It made me very uneasy. What would people do if something like that really happened? How would we all get away?
I watched a lot of horror movies when I was young, saw hours of pretend evil. I absorbed the catalogue of cinematic monsters and all the different ways they did their victims in. There were the guys like Freddy and Jason, slashing and hacking and stabbing, and never really being dead.…

December 23rd, 2002
The Unconditional Heart of Yuletide Lunacy

My father is never satisfied with the trees my mother hauls home from the gas station Christmas tree lot. Every year he produces the garden shears and goes about pruning. No one bothers trying to stop him anymore. We gather to watch dismembered tree pieces fall to the living room floor and agree when he says the thing looks much better. When he wanders off we fill the gaping holes with tinsel and reminisce about the time he broke out the saw.
Norman Rockwell doesn’t live hereIn my family, we don’t have Christmas traditions so much as recurring patterns of well-established holiday behavior we have all come to expect. Like my mother corralling all seven of her unwilling kids down to the Styrofoam Santa Castle…

November 7th, 2002
Beyond Empty Calories to Real Spiritual Sustenance

Oatmeal is not a favorite food of two-year-olds. Mine wasn’t too thrilled to see it arrive on the breakfast table this morning. He ate grudgingly, intermittent spoonfuls hitting the table and floor. I cajoled it into him, bite by bite, nudging the bowl back every time he pushed it away.
It would have been a lot less hassle just to slap a box of Reese Puffs or a couple of those frosted toaster treats in front of the kid. Or any other of those morning-time goodies that fill our supermarkets, such as breakfast pizza or one of those frosted, sugar-dipped, marshmallow-laden “cereals” always prancing across our TV screens. All fast, easy, and purportedly tasty, at least to kids.
Junky breakfast food…

November 5th, 2002
Meditations on Who Wears—and Irons—the Pants

Are we allowed to say “housewife” anymore? I doubt it’s ever been a flattering word — brings to mind frumpy ladies in hair curlers with ambitions no grander than getting good deals on rump roasts at the local supermarket. My overachieving parents raised me to look upon the fate of housewives, homemakers, as rather unfortunate. Having a successful career was a very important thing. Much of the other stuff could be muddled through. Suppers could be thrown together; nannies could be hired. From my mother, there was always this unspoken but unmistakable plea that I should never marry the type of man who expected cooking and cleaning and having his pants ironed.
My mother cried through my entire…

October 17th, 2002

No one comes running to meet me when I get home from work. The house is disappointingly dark and silent, the loves of my life hours into sleep. Since there’s no one around to talk to, I turn on the television and sigh as I sit in the dark flipping through infomercials and bad late-night movies.
Getting home at one in the morning is something I tolerate, for now, because my prospects of finding similar kind of work, with normal hours, are limited. But I’m waiting for the day I can be one of those nine-to-five lucky people. They may have to put up with rush-hour traffic and eight a.m. meetings, but at least they get to be more or less in tune with the world. I feel so out of synch with the natural rhythm of things, eating…

September 11th, 2002
A Sampling of Saints for the 9/11 Anniversary

Saint Francis of Assisi is up for bid on eBay . Several of him, actually. There’s Saint Francis in terra cotta or hand-painted ceramic, and also a lovely and practical Saint Francis birdfeeder . And he’s not alone. All over the internet you can get same-day shipping of pretty much any saint you want. Medals, statues, pictures—just a click and a credit card away.
Maybe I’ll get myself one of those saints. Maybe Saint Lucy , a patron of writers. She might be a comfort, perched serenely on top of my computer monitor. Really, I wouldn’t mind her face peering down at me. I like that about being Catholic, getting to have all those famously holy people around. It was actually the impending anniversary…

September 10th, 2002
More Guts Than Blood in Red Dragon

I once had a roommate who disapproved of me watching the X-Files. You know, because of all the murdering, and that creepy music. She would glide past the TV Sunday nights gently tsk-tsking, and recite a Bible verse, or at least part of one, about God “not giving us a spirit of fear” (Romans 8:15 ). Meaning that choosing to be afraid was wrong, even when only pretend, and for fun.
I guess I shouldn’t have seen Red Dragon then, what with its cannibalism and blood spatter. Actually, and good for it, this Silence of the Lambs “prequel” spares us the gratuitous violence as it tells that tale we’ve heard before: the haunted FBI agent tracks a cutely nicknamed serial killer, with help…

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