Busted Halo

Mike Hayes and guest authors give insight into the surprises of Pope Francis’ papacy, shedding light on how and why this pope is doing things a bit differently.

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May 23rd, 2013

popefrancispentecost-xAs reforms begin at the Vatican Bank, more officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, Pope Francis has also taken on global, personal, and spiritual financial matters in his papacy. Last week while speaking to new Vatican ambassadors he highlighted that “the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences… People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way.”

Reflecting on the economies of the world, Pope Francis pointed out that some exist simply to make money without adequate consideration for the rising number of people living in poverty in our midst. The idea that economic growth is the answer to everything is a theory that the pope hopes to debunk. He noted:

“The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.

The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces man to one of his needs alone, namely, consumption.”

Nearly two-thirds …

May 19th, 2013
A Convert’s Guide to Celebrating Pentecost … Today and Every Day

A scene from Pentecost at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, New York. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

A scene from Pentecost at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, New York. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

It will always be Pentecost in the church,

provided the church lets the beauty of the Holy Spirit

shine forth from her countenance.

When the church ceases to let her strength

rest on the power from above –

which Christ promised her

and which he gave her on that day –

and when the church leans rather on the weak forces

of the power or wealth of this earth,

then the church ceases to be newsworthy.

The church will be fair to see,
perennially young,

attractive in every age,

as long as she is faithful to the Spirit that floods her

and she reflects that Spirit

through her communities,

through her pastors,

through her very life.

May 14, 1978
Archbishop Oscar Romero from “The Violence of Love”

The Church is alive. We — you and me and all of us who dare to call Jesus “Lord” — are the living Body of Christ on earth. We are the hands of Christ reaching out to comfort, to heal, to feed, to sacrifice for those in bondage. We are the feet …

May 14th, 2013

Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan star in a scene from the movie The Great Gatsby. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan star in a scene from the movie The Great Gatsby. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

The Great Gatsby has been touted as many things: one of the contenders for the title of “The Great American Novel,” a flash game, and now, a summer blockbuster. But for all the things that The Great Gatsby has been, a good example certainly is not one of them. The way that the story’s characters embrace the wild lifestyle of the 1920s seems almost like a “how not to” guide for living your life. In fact, there’s a character or situation in Gatsby for practically all of the seven deadly sins that humanity is to avoid. Let’s take a look at some of those sins, the characters and actions behind them, and what we can do to avoid falling into the same snares in our own lives.

One of the basic facts about Jay Gatsby is that he throws amazing parties at his house every weekend. Alcohol flows, dancing abounds, and people aren’t even invited — they just show up. These partygoers, it would seem, exhibit the sin of gluttony, in that they eat and drink and dance and party to …

May 9th, 2013

ironman-3This past weekend, Marvel’s Iron Man 3 opened in theaters, earning $175 million in the United States. The story focuses on Tony Stark’s struggle to deal with the events of last year’s The Avengers as well as the new threat posed by a terrorist called the Mandarin (played by Sir Ben Kingsley). Yet below the standard hero vs. villain standoff we’ve come to expect of a summer blockbuster, Iron Man 3 offers a glimpse at not only the psyche of a superhero, but also at a core challenge that we face all too frequently in life: How can we reconcile redemption and revenge?

There are several paths of atonement and vengeance showcased throughout the film, all centered around the “demons” Tony Stark claims to have created for himself. Chief among the demons seeking their own form of justice against Stark are Aldritch Killian, a scientist whose offer of a research partnership Tony turned down coldly, and the Mandarin, who incites attack after attack on the U.S. government for reasons also tied to Stark (which I will here leave ambiguous in order to remain spoiler-free).

Initially Tony Stark is not overly concerned with the Mandarin (or Killian, for that matter), preoccupied …

May 6th, 2013
Thoughts on abortion in light of the Kermit Gosnell trial

Women’s Medical Society clinic in West Philadelphia.

Women’s Medical Society clinic in West Philadelphia.

(This post includes some graphic details from a current criminal case. It’s a bit heavier than what I usually write about for Convert-sation … but I think it’s important.)

Let’s engage in a thought experiment.

Picture two men. Both have been convicted of a crime they did not commit. They are innocent. Can you imagine them?

The first man is stripped naked. Amidst shouts and jeers, he is dragged into a public square. An angry mob surrounds him and he is caught in a terrible and unceasing deluge of stones and bricks. After an hour, his body lies broken, bloody, and lifeless. The crowd disperses. His body is thrown into a shallow, unmarked grave. He has been executed.

The second man is given a new pair of denim pants and a new blue work shirt. He meets with a licensed physician to receive a comprehensive medical exam, to give a complete medical history, and to hear an explanation of the medical procedure involved in a lethal injection. He receives a final meal of his choosing. He is offered a Valium. He is led to a sterile chamber and strapped to a gurney. A …

May 2nd, 2013

A fan holds a sign during a Boston Bruins hockey game after the marathon bombings. (CNS photo/Jessica Rinaldi, Reuters)

A fan holds a sign during a Boston Bruins hockey game after the marathon bombings. (CNS photo/Jessica Rinaldi, Reuters)

Tomorrow marks two weeks since law enforcement officials captured suspect number two, cowering in a boat, hidden by a tarp, and bleeding from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his neck. The night prior, the suspect’s older brother was killed in a firefight with police. With the suspects identified, captured, and in custody, Bostonians and Americans breathed a sigh of relief. The terror, anxiety, and fear that had consumed so many began to subside.

The reaction over the past two weeks has run the gamut and has touched on a number of seemingly divergent issues.

Boston’s Archbishop, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, told reporters that forgiveness is essential:

“Forgiveness does not mean that we do not realize the heinousness of the crime. But in our own hearts when we are unable to forgive we make ourselves a victim of our own hatred.”

But Elad Nehorai, a Hasidic Jew writing at the Huffington Post, said that forgiveness is the prerogative only of those who were directly victimized by the suspects:

For those that think that we should forgive: that’s not your place. You know who …

April 30th, 2013

batman-3Recently, the Vatican tweeted an article entitled “Holy Switcheroo! Batman has grown bitter, more vengeful with the years.” In it, Adam Shaw discusses the increasing darkness of the character since Bob Kane and Bill Finger created him in 1939. While the Vatican has stated that the tweet was an accident, the article nonetheless remains on the Vatican Communications website and Twitter feed. It also begs the question — in the growing darkness that surrounds Batman in all media (from TV and movies to video games and comic books) is there any room for light?

The short answer, of course, is yes. Otherwise, this article would’ve been called “Batman Dances With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight” instead of “The Not-So Dark Knight.” Still, what does the Bat have to do with the Catholic Church? Let’s take a look at Bruce Wayne’s alter ego in each medium, and see how he stacks up to the Church’s teachings.

Serving others

Here at Busted Halo® we’ve already discussed Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, but one movie does not a character’s history make. Since the superhero’s debut, Batman has been the focus of at least eight feature films, as …

April 29th, 2013
Thoughts on mindfulness in the wake of tragedy

dirtydishesI hate washing dishes. H-A-T-E.

About two weeks ago, our dishwasher made a horrid gasping, gurgling sound and ceased to work. I cursed, begged, and prayed. I may have kicked it (read: I did kick it … mercilessly, I’m afraid … while my children looked on in silent bemusement. Parenting fail.). I sent the extraordinarily handy moral theologian to the hardware store for a star-shaped Allen wrench. He took it apart. He put it back together. It was a lost cause.

For the few days between the untimely incapacitation of our dishwasher and the next available service call from our local appliance repair guy, the dishes required hand washing. I know there are probably a billion people who do this every day. I know — in the grand scheme of all tasks domestic and menial –hand washing a few days’ worth of dishes is hardly the end of the world. I’m not sure why I find this task so utterly loathsome … but, in the interest of keeping it real, I must confess that I do. I really do.

Whilst scrubbing my umpteenth tiny plastic cup, I remembered something I had read for a class at seminary. Thich Nhat Hanh, …

April 18th, 2013
Weighing in on the Busted Halo Office Clean-Up Challenge with some tips for Fr. Dave, Fr. Steve, and everyone joining in at home

(Click for larger image)

(Click for larger image)

It’s spring! Well, on the calendar at least. No matter the temperature, many are feeling their spirits lighten. We’re waking up from winter hibernation. We’re stretching tall, rubbing our eyes and looking around to see: a big mess.

What are all those papers piled around the room? What’s all that stuff sticking out of the drawers? We’d like to open the closet to pull out our spring clothes, but are scared to open the door for fear of what might fall out. The feeling of lightness starts to fade. The weight of having too much stuff pushes down on us.

But have no fear. There are people out there who actually take great joy in helping others in just this situation. Lucky for you, I’m one of them. And lucky for all of us, Fr. Dave and Fr. Steve are taking on the Busted Halo Office Clean-up Challenge and have asked me to give them — and you — some tips on getting started.

Decluttering versus organizing. Many people think, “I want to get organized,” and the first thing they do is go out and buy “stuff” to help them start: containers, closet organizers, baskets. They …

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


[+] Click image or here to view larger version.

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 …

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