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February 27th, 2013
Download and distribute our free Survival PDF to share with the high school grads you know

The next few months are anxiety-filled times not only for students but for parents and high school educators as well, as they begin finding out about college acceptances, financial aid packages, and everything else surrounding the move from high school to college. As the authors of a book about how to make a smooth transition to college life, we have become intimately aware of how stressful and exciting (and all the emotions in between) these next few months can be.
When The Freshman Survival Guide was first published in April 2011, we were confident that — after years of research and feedback from the online versions we’d posted on Busted Halo — the information, insights, advice and real-world…

February 25th, 2013

When I was growing up, the divide between Catholics and Protestants seemed greater than it does now. I’m not sure the word “ecumenical” had even been invented yet. But be that as it may, I remember being baffled by my Catholic friends, who on regular school days seemed, well — regular. But drive by a church, and there was this sudden flurry of unexplained activity, which I thought might denote some scratching but which turned out to be my friends crossing themselves. I hadn’t a clue what that meant. I think I’d heard the name “Jesus” by then, maybe at 11 years old, but I certainly had no real idea who he was or that he was to play such an enormous part in my life when I became an adult.
Lent was another occasion…

February 21st, 2013
Sit out the papal succession hype and stay focused on your own personal faith

Copies of the February 11 Italian edition of the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper on a news stand near the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Every day when I wake up, I fumble for my phone right from bed so I can check The New York Times and get a grip on reality. When I woke up last week and saw that the pope was resigning, I thought I’d lost that grip. Everything I thought I knew about Catholicism — where tradition is tradition is tradition — was upended.

It didn’t take long to tumble down the endless chute that is the papal succession obsession. What did it mean that the pope would resign at such a tumultuous point? Who would be the next pope? What country would he be from? What kind of changes would he make? …

February 19th, 2013

Where would you want the love of your life to take you on a romantic getaway? Hawaii? Paris? Camping? Did you ever wonder what God’s idea of a romantic getaway is? One thing is for sure — it is not a cruise. No, God wants to take you to the… desert!
The Hebrew word for desert, midbar, has significance beyond the images of isolation, barrenness and death that we conjure up when we hear it. The root word is dabar, which means word. So, the literal meaning of desert in Hebrew is the place of the word…, making the desert a place of encounter, communication, relationship; a place where one hears the voice of God. This sums up the experience of the Israelites in the book of Exodus in company with God — in the desert.

February 18th, 2013

Traditionally, Lent was a time for personal conversion leading up to Easter, during which Christians practiced the spiritual disciplines of fasting, praying and almsgiving to strip away all that is unnecessary and become more mindful of their ultimate dependence on God. Let’s recapture the true meaning of Lent in ways that are actually relevant to your life. Each day throughout Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday, the calendar’s link for that day will become active, revealing a Daily Jolt for spiritual contemplation relating to Lent, and new and practical ideas for fasting, prayer and almsgiving.

February 17th, 2013
The results are in!

You sent us your ash photos and you voted for your favorites!

So, after 112 photos and hundreds of votes, without further ado, check out the winning 2013 Best Ash, as voted by you, and a slide show of the other prize categories awarded by the editors of Busted Halo.

February 12th, 2013
Three steps for Catholics returning to the Church after being away

I often run into people who, upon finding out that I’m a lay minister in the Catholic Church, inform me that they’ve been away from church for some time. Many aren’t angry with the church (though some are and often have good reason for being so!), rather they’ve simply fallen out of practice. Many tell me that they’d really like to return but they’re “afraid the roof will cave in.” It can be quite anxiety provoking to come back to church. Who knows what kind of feelings this might stir up? The truth is that relief,… not anxiety, is the central emotion that many people feel upon “coming home” to the Catholic Church.
But how does one “come home”? Do you need a formal invitation? Is there a need to announce

February 12th, 2013
A look at the origins and symbolism of the celebration of love on February 14

Question: So what’s up with Valentine’s Day? I’ve been dating my girlfriend for two years, and she wants me to go all out with gifts and an expensive night out, but it feels phony. Wouldn’t a box of chocolates be ok? I never knew what to do on Valentine’s Day even when we first started dating. What does the church say about Valentine’s Day, and why does it matter?
Answer: …I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day either. I love romance as much as the next girl, but if you are married or dating, it can feel like a Hallmark holiday. When I was single, it felt like a reminder that I was not in a couple, even if other days I was totally OK with my status. But before we dismiss it entirely, we should understand

February 12th, 2013

Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, has long been one of my favorite days of the year. Mostly because, for all of my childhood, the day before Ash Wednesday (when I went to church and had some weird, dark substance smudged on my forehead) was dedicated to eating delicious, fattening food.
On Fat Tuesday the pink- and white-speckled countertops in the kitchen I grew up in were loaded with my (unhealthy) favorites: Spinach dip loaded with fresh artichokes and spinach, teeming with globs of sour cream, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Rotel dip with ground beef swimming in canned Campbell’s cheese soup and Rotel diced tomatoes. Red velvet cookies topped with syrupy, sweet cream cheese frosting. Hot wings…

February 11th, 2013
A reaction to Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation

My first reaction? I looked at the date to make sure it was not April 1. My second reaction? Good for him.

February 11th, 2013

I set out not long ago in a search of the way of traveling what Jesus calls “real life” or “life to the fullest.” This nomadic expedition toward a life of joy (which I describe in my book Holy Nomad…) led me to my own backyard, where I stumbled onto the divine teaching of an apple tree. As Lent approaches, here in the belly of a lifeless, ashen, Midwestern February, I wish for the world to blossom. The start of the Lenten season is always marked by my anticipation of the world’s slow emergence from hibernation, when the russets of winter lawns yield to lush green blankets of grass, the naked trees sprout their first buds of growth, folks wear brighter smiles and move at a quicker pace.
The apple tree in my backyard

February 6th, 2013

It’s that time of the year again. Most Christians have to face an important decision in their lives — what to “give up” for Lent. Last year I was invited to a Facebook page where people were posting the all-important decision they had made. I was fascinated that the trend hasn’t changed: no sweets and no coffee still are tops. There’s a new “tech” trend: no Internet. I couldn’t help posting on my own Facebook page, “So we’ll have a lot of unsweetened, decaffeinated, and dis-Interneted Christians on the planet again. But will we love each other any more for it?” To which my sister-in-law promptly commented, “No, it will make us grumpier! If the point of Lent was for us to love each other more… it would be 40 days of chocolate, coffee, and alcohol!”

February 4th, 2013

You’ll see a lot of young adults in Church on Ash Wednesday. Let Busted Halo® help you keep them coming back!
As young adults make a turn in their spiritual journey toward your church on Ash Wednesday, download, print, and share this invitation to deepen their relationship with God. We’ve made a color and black and white version available below for downloading. You can personalize the sheet with your parish information at the bottom and invite people to volunteer to distribute it on Ash Wednesday. Busted Halo® is an online ministry. Your parish is the place they can turn to for an in-person… encounter with their faith.
Don’t miss this opportunity for New Evangelization!

February 1st, 2013
Download for your desktop to remember important dates in February

As a thank you for being a part of the Busted Halo® community, we’re offering our users something special today.
This is the first in what will be a continuing series of monthly wallpapers featuring a thematic image of the Church season along with important dates to keep in mind for the coming month.
Downloads are available in sizes that will fit both widescreen and full screen monitors, as well as mobile devices.
With Ash Wednesday just 13 days away, we thought the Lenten image of the desert was the obvious choice to begin this series. Remember, Lent is coming.
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.
Download:…

January 29th, 2013

One thing that has stuck in my head since I was a child I learned from my mother who was a nurse. She came home from a continuing education class when I was about 12 years old with a tidbit that astounded me then and still astounds me today. The instructor communicated that researchers had discovered the frontal lobe of the brain, responsible for our creativity and imagination, is also activated when we pray.
Since learning that, I have always believed that there must be a profound connection between prayer and creativity. It also makes sense to me since prayer is the doorway to communicating with the Creator — me communicating with God and God communicating with me. One of the connections I have made is that being…

January 24th, 2013

Is anyone else out there as deeply disturbed by current events as I am right now? I know we’ve always had war in various places of the world, plus poor people shunted aside and ignored, plus victims of racism, homophobia, and violence to nature and humankind. But somehow, this year, these sad and bitter parts of human behavior feel like an iron cloak on my shoulders. I cannot even read about Syria anymore it is so upsetting, particularly after reading the luminous book, The Bread of Angels… by Stephanie Soldana, which tells of the monastery outside of Damascus headed by an Italian priest who tried to stay neutral and provide sanctuary for both sides in the conflict. He has since had to leave the country.
Today I ran around

January 22nd, 2013

We knew we were in trouble when the shoes floated down the hallway. My brother was the first to notice water leaking through the floor of our garage. He and my parents managed to heft the really valuable furniture, my deceased grandmother’s china closet and buffet, on top of my mattress, where they would be saved from the ravages of the flood. Even so, my family wasn’t prepared for how fast the water spread throughout the house, rising to six inches, enough to make buoys out of the sandals I kept under my bed.

January 21st, 2013

I received some great feedback on “A Cohabitation Conversation” published last fall, showing just how pertinent this topic is for couples. I was struck by the advice of one reader:
While I do agree that premarital cohabitation is not a good idea, it doesn’t always end up in divorce or unhappy marriages. My husband and I lived together for 6 years while we were in college. During those years of cohabitation we learned more about our Catholic faith we shared and grew stronger in that faith (understanding what the Church taught and why it taught it), we married, and have been very happily married for 23 years (with 4 children). While our situation was a bit different from the norm, I would NOT encourage couples to…

January 15th, 2013
Reflecting on body image and acceptance

One day while browsing Tumblr, I came across a blog post from Humans of New York, a website that showcases the daily lives of strangers around New York City via photograph. One of these pictures was especially striking; it was of an NYU student named Stella Boonshoft, posing in her underwear. The picture, taken from her personal blog, is a testament to self-love and body acceptance. Stella, standing proudly and smiling, is celebrating her body, the way God made it, imperfections and all. The picture garnered national attention, not just on social networking sites, but on national television news networks such as NBC, which aired a Today Show segment on Stella.
Body messages
As a young person admittedly influenced…

January 10th, 2013

“It’s hard for men to be friends with attractive women,” he said. I wondered if I qualified as “attractive.” In that moment, sitting across from him at a cafe, I decided to let go of my high school beliefs and declare myself as such. Now I could personally relate to what he was saying.
He continued on explaining that when a man is “just friends” with an attractive woman people — himself included — wonder why he wouldn’t want something more with her. And there it was again. The age-old debate (well, for single thirty-somethings) of “Can men and women be friends?”
Up until nine months ago, the answer to that question was a definitive “No”…

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