I 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 …
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.
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.
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. …
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.…
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.
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” …
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.
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 …
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 …
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 …
Stephen 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 …
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?”.
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 …
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.”
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 …
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. …
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 …
What 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 Piwas 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 …
Imagine 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. …
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)
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 …