Busted Halo

Here’s your chance to help select the next pope with a bracket contest of baptized Catholics, all technically eligible (except for some not being single). Help us figure out: Who should be pope?

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February 28th, 2013

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Obviously, the big papal news today is that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at 8pm Vatican City time (2pm EST), so for a quick overview of what’s going to happen next in the real world of choosing the pope, check out our video, “How Do Catholics Elect the Pope?”.

But if you’re interested in the more fun and creative way of doing things, go vote in Day 3 of our Papal Madness bracket by selecting your favorites from the second round of contenders, “The Spiritual Sixteen”.

Yesterday’s matchups held no real surprises, as most of the top seeds from both the Hollywood and Friends of Busted Halo® regions advanced. There was a slight upset when No. 6 seed Jim Caviezel took out director Kevin Smith, but since Caviezel’s claim to fame is portraying the son of God, we probably should have seen that one coming. Despite his best efforts of rallying his readers and friends, Mike Hayes was unable to best No. 2 seed Fr. Jim Martin. The closest race was between two Paulist Fathers, as Steven Bell took on and …

February 28th, 2013

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. (CNS photo/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. (CNS photo/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

As Congress struggles with how to create a national budget, and with hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts to the military, federal agencies, and social service programs looming, a group of religious leaders released a letter this week reminding elected officials of their duty to the poor and marginalized.

Calling themselves the “Circle of Protection,” the group drafted a letter to President Obama, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker John Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, thanking them for their commitment to reducing the staggering national deficit, and also asking them to consider the poor by sparing social programs, whenever possible, during this process.

They write that there are legitimate debates to be held about how to run government most effectively, and the role that it should play in society, but they call for actions that prevent “a serious economic setback or push more people into poverty” and that will “advance the common good, ensure fairness, and defend the most vulnerable is good religion and good politics.”

Of note in the …

February 27th, 2013

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Papal Madness got off to a terrific start yesterday in Day 1 of our contest. We had some exciting matchups, even though they had some fairly predictable outcomes: top seed Stephen Colbert trounced fellow pundit Bill O’Reilly, Bruce Springsteen destroyed Morrissey, and Sir Paul McCartney routed Eddie Van Halen. It’s been a big week for Canada, first with Ben Affleck’s name drop during his Oscar acceptance speech, and now in Papal Madness with Canadian crooner, Michael Bublé, overcoming the very talented, Jack White. (We’ll see how well Bublé fairs tomorrow against fellow subject of the crown, Sir Paul McCartney.) The closest contest by far was former rapper turned actor, Mark Wahlberg, defeating smooth singer and pianist, Harry Connick, Jr. (Perhaps the voters went with acting talent over musical faculties?) Other winners included Joe Biden over John Kerry, Conan O’Brien over Marco Rubio, and Chris Matthews over Sean Hannity.

And now, Day 2 begins. Head over to our Facebook page now to vote on the Hollywood and Friends of Busted Halo® regionals (see the competitors below). If you don’t see the voting polls …

February 26th, 2013

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Well, it’s that time of the century, where the election of a new pope coincides with March’s NCAA basketball tournament. The cardinals will soon gather for the papal conclave in Rome, most likely to choose someone from within their own ranks to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. However, there’s always the remote chance they look outside of the College of Cardinals for a successor — because technically you don’t have to be a cardinal, bishop or even a priest to be elected pope. Any baptized, single, male Catholic can be chosen, who would then need to be ordained a priest and then ordained a bishop in order to accept his new title as Bishop of Rome.

With that we present you the chance to help select the next pope with Busted Halo’s® Papal Madness, a bracket contest of baptized Catholics, who are all technically eligible to take up the chair of St. Peter (except, in some cases, for that whole being single part…oh well). It’s up to you to help us figure out which of these would make the best papal candidate. …

February 22nd, 2013
Daniel Day-Lewis stars in a scene from the movie, Lincoln. (CNS/DreamWorks)

Daniel Day-Lewis stars in a scene from the movie, Lincoln. (CNS/DreamWorks)

Daniel Day-Lewis has long been one of my favorite actors, and I’m not alone. This year he’s sweeping the awards circuit and taking home every best actor prize (and will most likely take home the Oscar this Sunday) for his portrayal of the 16th president of the United States in Lincoln.

Day-Lewis becomes Abraham Lincoln on screen. We aren’t that familiar with what Lincoln was actually like because he wasn’t president in the era of the 24-hour news cycle. Reporters didn’t blog about him, replay or even play sound bites from his speeches. He was the first president (along with the first family) to be widely photographed, though it was nothing like the White House Flickr page.

We know Lincoln led the country through a bitter, bloody Civil War (and the film pays tribute to the soldiers who fought, died and were wounded.) After Lincoln’s own personal beliefs about slavery in the United States progressed, he worked to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery. Lincoln was known for his oratorical skills, despite having what some historians characterized as a reedy, high-pitched voice (or higher …

February 20th, 2013

pi-largeWhat happens when a bookworm sees a novel-inspired movie? Personally, I get very nervous. I don’t like to see my favorite books exploited by Hollywood to attract large crowds to the box office. Many times directors lose sight of important aspects of the book and focus on sensational visual effects. Having read the novel by Yann Matel, I think Life of Pi was a perfect balance of effects and the original story. The movie was also able to capture the spiritual and religious significance of the book — what to me made Life of Pi a moving read.

Simply put, Life of Pi is a story about a boy who really just wants to love God. We learn that Pi was first introduced to God through Hinduism; however, he yearns to understand many religions. He meets people who share Christianity and Islam with him. I found this so interesting because most people are born into their parents’ faith and go their whole lives practicing it without questioning it. I have always been curious about other faiths, and I’ve enjoyed learning about them in the various theology classes I’ve taken. But I never once considered that I would practice them in …

February 15th, 2013

giving-up-to-goImagine a life without hearing the words, “Is that for here or to go?” No coffee to go. No drive-thrus. No take-out containers.

Imagine walking into a coffee shop where no one is staring at a piece of technology. Instead everyone is either engaged in conversation or silently taking in the scene around them.

Impossible? Maybe in this country. But such was my life along the Camino. For 37 days my only option was to sit down and enjoy my beverage or my meal. Instead of assuming I wanted everything in a disposable container “to go,” it was assumed I was sticking around and thus everything was served on real plates with utensils made from something other than plastic. Takeout was not even an option.

Walking into any cafe along the Camino, I rarely saw people staring into the screen of their laptops, or scrolling through the Internet on their phones. I saw something that used to be common in coffee shops: people gathered talking to each other.

I loved this single-focus mindset. It was impossible to drink coffee while walking on the Camino — they were two independent tasks, each to be enjoyed in their own right. …

February 14th, 2013
How the new pope might engage the political world.

Pope Benedict XVI and U.S. President Barack Obama during Obama's 2009 visit to the Vatican. (CNS photo/Chris Helgren, Reuters)

Pope Benedict XVI and U.S. President Barack Obama during Obama’s 2009 visit to the Vatican. (CNS photo/Chris Helgren, Reuters)

For the past 700 years or so, the election of a new Pope was always preceded by the death of another, and so it meant, presumably, that Catholics would spend some time mourning the loss of their spiritual leader before considering who might serve next. This time around, however, with Pope Benedict XVI’s startling announcement Monday, many Catholics are mourning the end of a papacy, perhaps, but also looking quite quickly to the future, eagerly wondering who will be elected to lead their church.

The election of a pope is most definitely spiritual business. Guided by the Holy Spirit, cardinals, men selected by a pope because of some immense contribution to the life of the Catholic Church, (in this case, all 117 eligible electors were made cardinals by either Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI) cloister themselves inside St. Peter’s Basilica and consider the traits they’d like in the man who will lead the world’s largest Christian church. This is done, we are told, with a profound sense of prayer and reflection, and it’s not a responsibility any one of …

February 13th, 2013

What is Lent? What are the three practices the Church suggests we do during Lent based on the teachings of Jesus? Why do Catholics eat fish on Fridays and why is it called “Good” Friday, anyway? Fr. Jack Collins, CSP, is once again hitting the streets, this time on Ash Wednesday near St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, asking these questions and more.…

February 5th, 2013

Bipolar disorder, depression, obsession, loss and isolation — not topics that you would think add up to an Oscar-nominated love story. But Silver Linings Playbook shines a light into the dark corners of life that we often try to ignore and balances them with touching moments of connection and healing. Not to mention healthy doses of football and dancing. David O. Russell, the film’s writer and director, uses humor and empathy to draw attention to serious issues in a story about a flawed man who transforms his life with the help of love and family.

When we meet Pat Solitano, played by Bradley Cooper, he has had a rough year. He spent eight months in a mental institution being treated for bipolar disorder. His unfaithful wife has left him and he has no job. Pat’s endgame — to win back the love of his estranged wife — is misguided, but it gets him out of bed in the morning. It’s only after he meets Tiffany, a young widow with her own mental health issues played by Jennifer Lawrence, that Pat realizes he needs to change course. Tiffany and Pat lean on one another, celebrate small victories, and …

January 31st, 2013
Will John Kerry look for global guidance from his faith?

Tomorrow, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry will be sworn in as Secretary of State, taking control as Hillary Clinton begins the next chapter of her very public life. Clinton visited more than 120 countries and racked up one million miles of travel. She introduced a refreshing sort of diplomacy, bringing American soft power to the people, hosting Q&A events with everyday folk in the countries she visited, paying special attentions to issues that affect the lives of the most vulnerable, women, and children.

Kerry, a Catholic, begins his tenure as the nation’s chief diplomat at a time when international flare-ups abound and pressures on the United States at home and abroad are great. He will face the well-known crises of civil war in Syria, the faltering transition to democracy in Egypt, human rights abuses and currency manipulation in China, and a litany of other high stakes affairs.

What, though, are some of the other challenges that Kerry might bring back into the spotlight? Could his faith guide him toward advancing human rights in the forgotten places where U.S. involvement might help individuals lead more dignified lives? Below are five suggestions that the new …

January 30th, 2013

What do I miss most about the Camino? If I had to choose just one thing, I’d say, “The simplicity of it all.” More specifically, the fact that there was just one item on my to-do list most days: walk.

“How far did you walk each day?” people ask.

“Twelve to 15 miles in the beginning, but sometimes I did up to 18.”

They are left speechless — a blank stare on their face. “But it’s all I had to do each day,” I tell them. “If you had all day to walk, you could walk that far, too.”

I was reminded of that sentiment last fall when I saw a painting of blue and green mountains. Across the top it read, “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.”

And that’s what it’s about: time. And what we choose to fill it with. How much of it we choose to fill. In his Life’s Little Instruction Book H. Jackson Brown advises us:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert …

January 28th, 2013

Three years after college graduation I found myself in a bit of a situation. I was completing an internship in Ohio. I was looking for a change of scene. I had just broken up with my girlfriend of two years. I was five hours from my hometown in Kentucky. I love my family but I wasn’t interested in moving back. I wanted to serve, but what would be the best way? Somewhere in there, my prayer life began to make me think, “Wait a second, what vocation am I called to?” I mean, did God desire me to be a husband and father someday? Being Catholic, I was also aware that priesthood or religious life was a possibility.

Well, next thing you know I’m on the streets of New York City. I happen to have a camera in one hand and a microphone in the other. I fearlessly went forth reporting for Busted Halo®. Were other young people asking some of the same questions I was? More importantly, how did they go about making the big decisions in their lives? Here are their answers.…

January 23rd, 2013

Warning: This article contains some spoilers about the movie.

It’s the perfect Hollywood plot: “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.” You couldn’t ask for a more sinister villain — Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for history’s worst terrorist attack on the American people. And even before its release, controversy surrounded the film. Does the movie take a pro-torture stance? (Director Kathryn Bigelow responded to these accusations for the first time this week.) Did the filmmakers have access to classified materials during their research of the film? Is it a docu-drama or a work of fiction? Hollywood loves this type of publicity because it draws attention to a film and helps sell the story. It certainly piqued my interest and I was curious to see how the filmmakers interpreted the real life drama for the big screen.

Zero Dark Thirty did not disappoint. Look, we all know the ending. Bin Laden is killed. Yet I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie, along with the rest of the audience. You could hear a pin drop in the theater. I was expecting a Hollywood action thriller, and those elements were there, but …

January 20th, 2013

Once upon a time there was a Mary. No, not that Mary. A different one. This Mary lived in Egypt at the end of the fourth century. She made her way across the better part of the ancient near east by trading sexual favors to pilgrims for food and lodging. She boasted heartily about her ability to seduce and, if legend bears any truth, her licentiousness knew no bounds (seriously).

Once she followed a procession of pilgrims bearing a piece of the True Cross through Jerusalem to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Donned in clothes meant to advertise her sexual availability, she sauntered among the pilgrims in search of her next conquest. When the procession reached the door of the church, she was barred from entering by a powerful and inexplicable force. Her eyes fell upon on image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her heart instantly overflowed with humility, love, and repentance. Mary of Egypt (St. Mary of Egypt, to be precise) was suddenly able to enter the church where she worshipped God fervently and joyfully. She was allowed in as she was — dressed in a way meant to elicit lust. She was compelled to enter …

January 17th, 2013

This weekend, up to 800,000 people will converge on Washington, D.C., to celebrate President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, down from the 1.5 million who braved bitter cold four years ago but more than the second-term crowds greeting his two predecessors.

There’s less palpable excitement this time around, for sure, but there’s still the sense of a new beginning, hope for cooperation and work that will address some of our nation’s challenges.
What, I wonder, will those 800,000 individuals hope for from Obama’s second term? Each person there, I imagine, has his or her own wish list for the president. Here’s part of mine.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform
The President owes his reelection, in large part, to the overwhelming support he and his fellow Democrats received from Latino voters. The Republican Party realizes that their future is bleak without attracting some of this key bloc, so their leaders are ready to do something to get back in the game. The time is ripe for comprehensive immigration reform. People of faith, including Catholics and other Christians,… have an important part to play in this conversation. We must advocate for immigration policies that enhance human dignity, uphold the primacy of the family, and create

January 16th, 2013

“So how far are you planning to walk today?” was a question often heard on the Camino.

In the early days of my walk to Santiago, I knew the answer. I had an Excel spreadsheet that listed all the towns in which I planned to stop and the distances between them — in both miles and kilometers. I printed it on purple paper before I left home so I could easily find it, usually stuffed in the middle of my guidebook. “It’s just a rough idea,” I told fellow pilgrims who saw it.

My plan was to ease into long distances. I did five miles on my first day into the Pyrenees. I crossed into Spain on my second day — walking 10 miles. My goal for the third day: 13 miles. But I didn’t follow my plan. I followed Vincenzo. Or, more accurately, his advice.

Vincenzo had walked the Camino twice before. He looked at my purple paper and told me not to stop in Zubiri as I’d planned. He said it wasn’t a very nice town and that instead I should walk on to Larrasoana. So I did. I walked 17 miles that day — more than …

January 14th, 2013

In any normal, and might I add boring, cinematic year, the results of the past week’s Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice awards would strongly indicate this year’s big Academy Award winner for Best Director and Best Picture will be Ben Affleck and his 1980s Iranian hostage crisis rescue-film, Argo. But Affleck was snubbed at last week’s Oscar nominations (along with Kathryn Bigelow, among others,) so despite Argo winning both Director and Best Picture prizes at these latest awards shows, the field remains (sort-of) wide open. Now critics, fans and those in the industry can all finally agree on one thing: that this is one of the most interesting, exciting and hard to predict Awards Seasons in years (excluding Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathway, of course, who are virtual locks in their acting categories.)

But enough about predictions. Here at Busted Halo®, we don’t pride ourselves on prognosticating so much as we specialize in spirituality, even where Hollywood is concerned, and strive, as the Jesuits do, to find God in all things. So we present to you A Spiritual Side of Cinema, a guide to the religious and faith aspects of this year’s nominated films.

Ever …

January 7th, 2013

I’ve always been a person who doesn’t like to hear excuses. I don’t dismiss all excuses because some are completely valid and the situation is out of the person’s control. But, especially since I work at a high school, I believe most excuses are people slacking off and trying to get away with it.

Recently, though, Brandon and I were given the opportunity to coordinate a Marriage Preparation Weekend for engaged couples. This is a ministry we’ve always been interested in helping out with, so we jumped at the chance to be able to facilitate the weekend. We should have more seriously considered that we would have a 6-week-old at the time, but we were optimistic about our time management skills. As the weekend approached Brandon was freaking out that we didn’t have more of it planned. I kept saying, “Look, Brandon, we have a new baby and two older girls that never sleep in past 7 a.m. Cut us some slack.” At some point Brandon looked at me and said, “Stop giving me that excuse. We could have had all of this done before the baby, and we didn’t do it. Now we have to get it done. We …

January 4th, 2013

Pretzels come in many flavors, shapes, and sizes — not unlike us. These treats are great with cheese or other dips or just by themselves. But have you stopped to consider they actually have an historical place in Lent?

If you take a moment to look at the typical twist pretzel, you can see that it is a model of the common prayer position from the early 600s of folding your arms over each other on your chest and putting your hands on your shoulders.

Pretzels were developed as an option to satisfy abstinence and fasting laws of the time. Eggs, fat, and milk were forbidden during Lent. So, the remaining ingredients that one could use included water, flour, and salt. A young monk baked the first pretzel — making a Lenten bread of water, flour, and salt, forming the dough into the prayer position of the day, and baking it as soft bread. These first pretzels would have been much like the soft pretzels we have today.

Greg Dues, in his book Catholic Customs and Traditions, explains more of the pretzel history:

“These little breads were shaped in the form of arms crossed in prayer and were called bracellae …

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