Busted Halo

Matt Weber seeks the sacred and the spiritual in his 20s and beyond.

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April 16th, 2013
Turning to prayer after the tragedy at the Boston Marathon

A woman prays at the site of explosions at the Boston Marathon.

A woman prays at the site of explosions at the Boston Marathon.

There is a certain sadness in the air.

The typical euphoria of Patriot’s Day in Boston seemed to have dissolved into the crisp afternoon air and cheers turned into cries and suddenly running 26.2 miles meant everything and nothing. Fifteen years ago I jogged the final five miles of the Boston Marathon with my parish pastor cheering him as he cramped up and supporting him with throngs of well wishers on the sidewalks. Trotting down the home stretch on Boylston Street is collective sensory joy in motion. As a young teenager, it was a thrill to be in downtown Boston on this most special day and a tradition I continued while a student at Boston College and beyond.

Yesterday, I was not at the finish line. I was out sick last week and couldn’t manage to take off the following Monday. So, atypical to a traditional Patriot’s Day, I went to work. More like, I endured work. Sitting in my office restlessly, I was exactly 3.5 miles away from Copley Square; roughly a 30-minute bike ride to a sea of protective silver capes and 27-minutes via the Boston …

April 10th, 2013
Longing for a simpler, less cluttered life? The Camino taught me a few tricks for making "simple living" a reality.

simpleliving-2Our new pope decided he preferred a two-room suite to the 12-room apartment his predecessors have occupied since the early 1900s. He cited reasons of simplicity and community. Simplicity is making news, but it’s not a new concept. Jesus inspired his followers to leave everything behind and, “Come, follow me.” But I don’t think Peter walked away from a 4,000-square-foot home with full closets. Are you inspired by Pope Francis’ choice? Or just looking for a way to bring a little more simplicity to your life?

Americans are living in a time of great abundance. “Oh! But look at the economy!” some say. I don’t mean financially. I mean when it comes to buying material goods. Anything we think we may want is available to us, 24/7, every day of the year, and delivered to our door thanks to the Internet. No money? No problem. The Internet takes credit cards.

Last year, I spent 37 days walking the Camino de Santiago through Northern Spain. When I told people along the pilgrimage that I taught classes on decluttering, pilgrims from other countries couldn’t believe that people actually needed such classes. Some societies are not nearly so consuming as ours. One of …

April 4th, 2013
Thoughts on the Octave of Easter


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The tomb is empty. The stone has been rolled away. Jesus is not there. A vacant grave in the dim light of morning. This is the height and summit of the story of Jesus the Nazorean.

Except it’s not.

This year’s Easter reading from the Gospel of John gives us the account of a grief-stricken Mary Magdalene seeking the tomb of her Rabbi, Master and friend. It is early. The sun has yet to rise. She finds the tomb empty and — with anguish and horror — runs to tell the disciples that someone has taken the body of her Lord. This Jesus (her Jesus), who was all mercy, all truth, all gentle and fierce and holy power, must he suffer the indignity of being stolen in the night? Was not the pain and humiliation of the cross enough? Where have they taken him? Simon Peter and John tear through the quiet streets of Jerusalem and arrive at the tomb. It is just as Mary has reported. Empty. They are left with questions and vague hope.

Jesus did not come to give us vague hope. The empty tomb is not the …

April 4th, 2013

An artist's rendering shows the U.S. Supreme Court in session for oral arguments in a case challenging California's Proposition 8. (CNS photo/Art Lien, Reuters)

An artist’s rendering shows the U.S. Supreme Court in session for oral arguments in a case challenging California’s Prop 8. (CNS photo/Art Lien, Reuters)

Notice a proliferation of red on Facebook last week?

Many of your friends, and perhaps you yourself, may have changed their profile pictures to a red equals sign, showing their support for same-sex marriage as the Supreme Court heard arguments in two pivotal cases. Tuesday, the justices listened to arguments surrounding California’s law that banned same-sex marriage there, known as Prop 8. The next day, they heard arguments challenging the constitutionality of the Clinton-era law known as the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states where they are legal. A woman whose partner had died, resulting in a staggering estate tax bill of $362,000 that a heterosexual couple would not have been charged, brought the case to the court.

What struck me about the Facebook campaign was the diversity of my friends who changed their profile pics that day. Of course, my younger liberal friends showed support, but even my more center-right, orthodox Catholic friends got in on the action. I suppose I shouldn’t have been …

April 3rd, 2013

It’s the best time of the year — no, I’m not referring to springtime or Easter Season, but perhaps a time even (blasphemously) better and more anticipated in my opinion: BASEBALL SEASON!

Regardless of Punxsutawney Phil and his fickle foreshadowing, baseball is now upon us and a ripe new schedule of pregnant anticipation is born unto us the faithful fans. Each year, it is a goal of mine to attend at least two to three games. Not just to watch them on TV or check the scores incessantly on the Internet, but actually shelling out anywhere from $15 to $150 a ticket for the privilege to hear the crack of a bat and smell freshly cut turf around a mound of dirt and seeds and spit.

And so, sunshine or drizzle, regardless of where my seat is — and even if the game is a blowout or my hot dog is cold — I am always happy to be at a game for one particular reason. It is a relishing of a moment often experienced with relish. It is an ephemeral action that figuratively burns bright then passes by in the blink of an eye. It is …

April 2nd, 2013

Pope Francis washes the foot of a prison inmate during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis washes the foot of a prison inmate during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Last week Pope Francis chose to carry out the Holy Thursday ritual of “washing feet” in a special way by presiding at the mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Casal del Marmo Youth Detention Centre in Rome.

Casal del Marmo is a place for youth who have run afoul of the law, mostly related to drug abuse. Ten girls and 40 boys live at the centre and took part in the mass. Interestingly, the 12 chosen to have their feet washed were not all Catholic (or men). Most of the residents at the facility are Muslim. The Pope met with the youth after mass and shared gifts of Easter eggs and columba, traditional Italian Easter cake in the shape of a dove.

Pope Francis expressed wishes that the Holy Thursday mass should be simple. And what simpler gesture could he provide the Church than washing the feet of teenagers who have gotten themselves into trouble? Visiting the teens at the detention center didn’t send a message that the world would regard as powerful. The Pope didn’t …

April 2nd, 2013

Easter is more than just a single day — it’s 50! Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, and Fr. Larry Rice, CSP, discuss the difference between the Easter season and Lent. Because this Church season is longer than Lent it shows the emphasis in our faith on the great goodness and mercy of God, new life and resurrection. The Season of Resurrection calls us into the deeper mystery of God and all God is doing in the world today. Happy Easter Season!


Originally Published on April 9, 2012…

April 1st, 2013


Habemus wallpaper!

We have a new pope and wanted to show him off in our latest wallpaper. Use this for your laptop, desktop or mobile device to stay up-to-date with all the feast days of April.

The wallpaper is available in sizes that will fit both widescreen and full screen monitors, as well as mobile devices. Download the files directly below, mark your calendar, and enjoy this easy way to stay aware of important feasts and holy days heading your way.

16:9 [2560 x 1440] · 16:10 [2560 x 1600] · 4:3 [2400 x 1800] · mobile [640 x 1136]

March 26th, 2013

god-in-air-imageI was sitting on a train heading to New York City as the sun gently rose on an eager Boston morning. My eyelids were drooping, yawns were frequent, yet I was happy as a clam; reading my book in the quiet car, excited for three and a half hours of peace. A few minutes into the trip, we made our first stop and a nice woman sat next to me. I describe her as “nice” for a few reasons: 1) she smiles and nods as she asks to sit next to me; and 2) she is wearing a hat. I have found in life that a great majority of adult female hat wearers are warm and friendly. So, quite unscientifically, I was pleased to be sharing my morning travels to New York with a smiling patron of haberdasheries.

As I began to crease the binding of my book once again, with few cares in the world, a sharp, fruity and metallic smell entered my immediate atmosphere. It sent chills up my nostrils and began a slow, uninvited descent into my lungs. Whatever it was, it was borderline intolerable, and a smell that could not be unsmelled. My nose took notice …

March 21st, 2013
People participate in an anti-gun violence rally in New York. (CNS photo/Eduardo Munoz, Reuters)

People participate in an anti-gun violence rally in New York. (CNS photo/Eduardo Munoz, Reuters)

Washington is in the midst of Cherry Blossom season. In the next few weeks, more than one million tourists and locals alike will flock to the area along the National Mall, especially around the tidal basin near the Jefferson Memorial, to take in a view of the white and pink blossoms that appear on thousands of trees each spring. In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo presented 3,000 cherry trees to the people of the United States as a symbol of peace and friendship between the two nations. Today, there is a 16-day festival complete with a 10-mile road race, elaborate parties, photo classes and allergies. Oh, the allergies.

Washington, so the saying goes, is built on a swamp (never mind that just a tiny portion of the city, down around the U.S. Capitol, is actually built on filled-in land), which accounts for the sweltering humidity in summertime and proliferation of all sorts of seasonal allergens in the springtime. So to celebrate the pending arrival of cherry blossoms, I found myself in line at a CVS last night to pick up some much needed Sudafed.

When …

March 20th, 2013
A pilgrim walks The Camino near the town of Burgos, Spain. (CNS photo/Felix Ordonez, Reuters)

A pilgrim walks The Camino near the town of Burgos, Spain. (CNS photo/Felix Ordonez, Reuters)

There he was again, up ahead of me on the trail, walking his bicycle, his backpack fastened to its seat. I had seen him a few times over the last week but never once did I see him actually riding that bicycle.

I could no longer stand the mystery. When I caught up to him he smiled and greeted me, as all pilgrims do, with, “Buen Camino.” He spoke no English, but thanks to sign language and the few words of Italian I knew, I managed to ask him if he ever hops on the bicycle himself.

“No,” he said. He gave me an explanation supplemented by pointing to his pack, then putting a hand to his low back and showing me a grimace. Later, a pilgrim who spoke both Italian and English confirmed what I had suspected: this man had wanted to walk the Camino and did not want to use one of the services to carry his pack for him. So he brought a bike with him whose sole purpose was to hold his pack.

He was not the first person I saw …

March 19th, 2013

Pope Francis greets a boy after celebrating Mass at St. Anne's Parish within the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets a boy after celebrating Mass at St. Anne’s Parish within the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms;
I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. (from an ancient prayer to St. Joseph)

I want to talk about fathers. I want to talk about fathers because — despite what one might garner from nearly every aspect of popular culture — they matter. They matter profoundly. I want to talk about fathers today because it is the Feast of St. Joseph and the day in which our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, will celebrate his installation. So, in honor of these two humble and loving fathers and in honor of all humble and loving fathers, we need to talk.

One day early last week as our alarm clock radio started blaring at 6:30 a.m., the voice of a woman tore me from my sleep. “Top 10 reasons why your husband is just another one of your kids,” she chortled. …

March 16th, 2013

We have a new pope and Fr. Jack Collins, CSP, hits the streets to find out what people know of the new pontiff, asking about his name and origins as well as their hopes and advice for the new head of the Church.…

March 12th, 2013

angelsdemonsWith all the excitement surrounding the conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI’s successor, I was reminded of a certain fictional depiction of a papal conclave: Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, specifically the 2009 film version directed by Ron Howard.

In Angels & Demons, Brown’s Robert Langdon (who is also the protagonist of The Da Vinci Code) finds himself once again embroiled in controversy regarding the Catholic Church, this time in connection with the death of the pope and a bomb threat against the conclave and Vatican City.

Although Brown has been criticized for misrepresenting the Church, when recently re-watching Angels & Demons, I actually found that he isn’t that far off in regard to certain traditions, specifically some elements of his portrayal of the conclave. That’s not to say, though, that Dan Brown is always right — the man makes his errors, too. To help you sort out fact from fiction, here’s a breakdown of some story points from the movie and how they relate to Conclave 2013.

March 6th, 2013

Visit our Facebook page to view all the results of Papal Madness…

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Habemus falsum papam!
We have a fake pope!

Though voting was tight most of yesterday between the final two Papal Madness competitors, Stephen Colbert ultimately triumphed over His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan by approximately 50 votes, making him the winner of this bracket and naming him Pope Stephen XI (a.k.a. Pope Suburban I, as coined by Fr. Jim Martin, SJ, in a recent Colbert Report appearance.) Now, we won’t get into the specifics of whether Colbert is actually the 10th or 11th pope to be named Stephen, we’ll just congratulate him on his win and wish the Cardinals as much success in their conclave as we’ve had in ours.

Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in knowing how they will truly elect the pope, (and no, it’s not a bracket contest), check out our informative short video.

Thanks for playing everyone! Below is a little wisdom from our new fake pope on the Catholic faith.

Papal Madness Champion:
Pope Stephen XI

01-colbertStephen Colbert is the winner of Busted Halo‘s® Papal Madness tournament. Colbert enjoys the spotlight nearly as …

March 6th, 2013

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in a scene from the movie Skyfall. (CNS/Columbia Pictures)

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in a scene from the movie Skyfall. (CNS/Columbia Pictures)

Having just won two Oscars for Best Original Song and Best Sound Editing (and recently out on DVD), the James Bond film Skyfall is certainly in the midst of some media spotlight at the moment. But there’s another reason that Skyfall is particularly relevant right now — the way its themes coincide with the season of Lent.

In quick summary for those of you unfamiliar with Skyfall, the film follows James Bond, Agent 007, as he faces off against a terrorist named Silva who wages war on Britain, the secret service organization MI6 and its leader M. In addition to his foe, Bond must also overcome the challenges raised against him by his age and the wounds (both physical and mental) that his job as a secret agent has afforded him.

So just where, then, do the season of Lent and the film Skyfall overlap?

The idea of mortality

“Think on your sins.” When Silva broadcasts this message to M, it carries a sinister and foreboding terror — clearly, this man is out for revenge, to make M pay for the “sins” …

March 5th, 2013

Head to our Facebook page right now for your final chance to vote in Papal Madness…

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Wow. Yesterday’s matchups were not as exciting as the final four should have been, with both Stephen Colbert and Cardinal Dolan tearing through their opponents and thus advancing to the final round of Papal Madness. Does the blame lie with us not doing a better job of seeding this thing (which is actually a lot harder than it looks), or is it the anomaly of No. 4 seed Mark Wahlberg upsetting the Music region and thus not putting up a better showing against the Cardinal? We always figured (and dare we say hoped), that Colbert would advance to the last round, and he (and you the readers via voting) did not disappoint.

And now here we are: The Holy Father Face-Off…

If you haven’t already, go to our Facebook page and vote on today’s big matchup.

Today’s showdown is a dream come true for the modern Catholic, Christian, seeker, or pretty much anyone who’s interested in the intersection of faith and (pop) culture, as the Cardinal and Colbert meet up once again. In the one corner we have one of the more …

March 4th, 2013
Farmers and their advocates protest outside a supermarket for fair wages. (CNS photo/Jim West)

Farmers and their advocates protest outside a supermarket for fair wages. (CNS photo/Jim West)

This year I’m not fasting during Lent. Period. Not because I’ve given up on the concept of fasting as spiritually edifying. Not because I’m the worst faster in the long and storied history of fasting (which, by the way, I am). Not because I have a tendency to be rebellious, defiant, and stubborn (me, me, and — let’s face it — me).

This year I’m not fasting because I’m pregnant with our fourth little one and, in her inspired and loving wisdom, Mother Church has given me a pass. I’m still practicing abstinence from meat… but it didn’t quite seem like enough. So, this Lent I’m retracing the steps of a spiritual adventure I embarked upon last year. I am aiming at the fast the Prophet Isaiah describes — a fast from injustice. I have a few new ideas. I hope you’ll come along with me — in addition to your Lenten fast, in lieu of a traditional fast (not everyone is obligated to fast), or in an “oh… fudge” attempt to salvage a Lent that to this point resembles one long, drawn-out, and …

March 4th, 2013

Visit our Facebook page and vote on who you want to see go head-to-head in the last round of Papal Madness…

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It’s Day 5 of Papal Madness and we’re perplexed: Do people really like Mark Wahlberg this much, or are Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney just not as popular as we believed? Meanwhile, the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Dolan, took Busted Halo‘s® very own Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, to the cleaners; Stephen Colbert triumphed over Conan O’Brien; and Martin Sheen made quick work out of Jim Caviezel.

If you haven’t already, go to our Facebook page and vote on today’s matchups.

Well, we’ve arrived at the Faithful Four. In the top part of the bracket it should be no surprise that we have our two No. 1 seeds from the Media/Politics and the Hollywood regions facing off as the always hilarious and devout pundit Stephen Colbert takes on beloved Catholic actor Martin Sheen. And in the bottom half it’s No. 3 seed His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan vs. No. 4 Marky Mark Wahlberg. Who will we see in tomorrow’s final matchup? Could it be a replay of the Cardinal and Colbert, or perhaps the stars of …

March 1st, 2013

Visit our Facebook page right now and scroll down to vote on who will be in the Final Four of Papal Madness…

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pollStephen Colbert absolutely obliterated MSNBC’s Chris Matthews during yesterday’s “Spiritual Sixteen,” with Matthews only getting 4.3% of the total vote — the biggest deficit Papal Madness has seen to date. Upsets of the day included actor Jim Caviezel prevailing over director Martin Scorsese, and the surprising win of Mark Wahlberg over Bruce Springsteen. (How did that happen?!!!) Jesuit fans out there will be sad to say goodbye to Fr. Jim Martin, SJ, who lost to none other than His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

If you haven’t already, head over to our Facebook page to vote on the “Ecclesiastical Eight.”

Today’s matchups leave nothing to be desired: Two of the most Catholic actors in Hollywood face-off when No. 1 seed Martin Sheen takes on No. 6 Jim Caviezel. In the Media/Politics region, No. 1 Stephen Colbert goes head-to-head with fellow comedian Conan O’Brien, and No. 2 seed in the Music region, Sir Paul McCartney, confronts surprising 3rd rounder, No. 4 Mark Wahlberg. Meanwhile in the Friends of Busted Halo® region, things may turn …

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