Busted Halo
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May 18th, 2012

Let’s face it. We live in a loud world. Not the kind of loud that breaks the stillness of a bucolic spring day. This loudness emits upward through our iPhones and electronic tablets. It is the glowing screen showing off a friend’s party or Nicholas Kristoff’s Twitter feed announcing his latest column in The New York Times on Anheuser-Busch and Indian Reservations. Or how about the split second it will take to check in to that trendy lounge wine bar where your friends are headed.
We are easily tempted by the social networks that purport to connect us to friends near and far. Not only has it become a need to connect with people via Facebook, Foursquare, or Twitter but it comes seconds after we greet our friends with…

May 16th, 2012

Easter is a liturgical time when we celebrate the Resurrection of the One who “makes all things new” and anticipate the descent of the Holy Spirit, through whom God creates and “renew[s] the face of the earth,” at Pentecost. While bodily resurrection and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit clearly impact the human person, the Easter Season extends to and includes all of creation.
As I’ve prayed the Liturgy of the Hours this Easter Season, I have been reminded of the intimate connection between Easter and God’s call to care for creation. Building on the ancient Jewish rhythm of daily prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours follows a four-week cycle of psalms and canticles. The canticle…

May 15th, 2012

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. — 1 Corinthians 12:12…
Farmers have a hard life. All that work, and a dry summer or a plague of locusts or a freak hailstorm destroys the entire crop. What’s brilliant about CSAs is that the community takes the hit along with the farmer. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, but to anyone under the age of 12, you’d think the word was a synonym for “farm.” Farms offer a number of shares every year, and members of the community buy these shares, then show up once a week to gather their part of the produce.
I first encountered CSAs through my great aunt Sally,

May 14th, 2012

I’ve been stressed out. A full-blown, out-of-my-mind, can’t-think-straight stressed out.
I’m 22 and one year out of college. People keep telling me that this is the best time of my life. I have no kids, no husband, and no real geographical constraints besides the fact that I have an unhealthy addiction to the sunny beaches of Southern California.
The road of my life stretches endlessly in front of me in so many directions. I find myself terrified to start moving.
‘Let go and let God’
I took off to Germany right after I graduated last June, telling myself that I would figure it all out when I was there. I would blow off some steam in legendary Berlin night life, get some distance from Stanford, and hopefully…

May 10th, 2012
Why we do it and the harm it does

Gossip seems like the main form of entertainment these days. We’re bombarded with the ups and downs, the personal embarrassments, of entertainers, politicians, and a whole swath of people on pseudo-reality shows whose only reason for fame seems to be self-promotion. People have always been attracted to lurid news. In the Middle Ages, instead of Perez Hilton, its purveyors were roving minstrels — the medieval French term for a minstrel, jongleur…, actually means “gossip.” I think it’s worse now because of the information age — the obsessive focus on information to create an illusion of control. We substitute having an opinion about Kim Kardashian’s swimsuit

May 9th, 2012

For many Catholics, the mystery involved with receiving Holy Communion remains a distant reality. The language that the Church uses to define the mystery of the Eucharist is heavily philosophic, thus making it perhaps even more difficult to understand. Yet, we cannot ignore the fact that the Eucharist is at the heart of the Catholic Church.
Understanding bread, wine and community
The reality of this Sacrament can be unlocked for us if we allow the bread and wine to communicate to us what is actually taking place. These sacramental signs,… or the “stuff” that is transformed into Christ’s body and blood, don’t just appear out of nowhere. In every Mass, the bread and wine are the gifts presented

May 8th, 2012
Young adult volunteers at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Wisconsin connect with God through nature and community

Connection. It is something everyone desires and in today’s world it seems to happen 24/7 through the Internet and social media.
But there are people who yearn for a different, deeper connection — with God, with nature, and with each other. Sara Jo Emmerich, a 30-year-old who lives in Washington, D.C., found that connection at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin.
It was there, as part of the Volunteer in Community program, that Emmerich discovered a solution for the breakdown between her spirituality and the rest of her life that she was experiencing.
“I was in seminary at the time and feeling a real disconnect between the academic study and the actual living out of my faith,”…

May 7th, 2012
A look at how young evangelicals approach faith and politics today

Politically speaking, what’s up with young evangelicals? Evangelicals are 26 percent of the U.S. population, a quarter of them under 30, and, as the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life reports, “Not since 1972 has generation played such a significant role in voter preferences as it has in recent elections. Younger people have voted substantially more Democratic,” a pattern that “may well continue in 2012.”
For starters, evangelicalism is an approach to Protestantism that can be practiced in many denominations. It emphasizes a renewal of faith toward an inner, personal relationship with Jesus; the mission to bring others to that relationship; the cross as a symbol of salvation…

May 4th, 2012
A month of lessons in doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly in her footsteps

The first time my now husband came to lunch in my tiny studio apartment he looked with puzzled amusement at the statues and icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary that dotted my closet-sized dwelling and noted that I was “a very strange sort of Protestant.” Long before I became Catholic I loved Our Lady. Her strength and beauty have endeared her to me ever since my grandmother (an ardent and lifelong Presbyterian) gave me a holy card with a picture of Our Lady of Grace on the front and the Hail Mary printed on the back as a souvenir from our visit to a church in Niagara Falls. When I asked her what it was, she said, without so much as a pause, “a Catholic baseball card.” It has survived my downright legendary ability to misplace…

May 2nd, 2012
Reflections from a college graduate one year out

I can still remember the feeling of numbness that hit me when I hung up the phone one afternoon last September.
I’d been slated to go to Vietnam for six months with a friend of mine, and there were 12 days before we were scheduled to take off. Problem was, most of those six months were still unplanned and important things like, oh, lodging and vaccinations and visa issues were still completely up in the air. I liked the idea of living in the moment and taking each day as an adventure, but not as much as I liked the idea of avoiding malaria or getting in trouble with Vietnamese government officials.
A friend with connections in Vietnam had been planning the trip, and with 12 days left, I figured he’d dropped the ball. I decided…

May 1st, 2012

For two and a half years I was a Jesuit, living religious life and experiencing what it was like to be part of the Church in more of a public capacity. I had many opportunities to serve people from all walks of life in different places. I had to get used to people calling me brother or father, though I was neither. It was kind of nice to be an “official” representative of the Catholic Church as a religious.

April 27th, 2012

Whether it’s a refresher course or an introduction, each of the “Sacraments 101″ videos gives you the basics about some aspect of one of the sacraments of the Catholic Church — in just a few minutes!…

April 26th, 2012

In preparing to give a presentation on the structures of faith communities, I was just reading 1 Corinthians 12-14. You may, like me, be familiar with chapters 12 and 13 separately as two of the best-known passages from the Pauline letters. But I’d never put them together along with the following chapter. As a set, they say something very powerful, something which is already a guiding spiritual principle in my life: the essentialness of being of service, of being, at least some of the time, other-directed.
Chapter 12 contains the famous analogy between a community of believers and a body (the Body of Christ.) The word “member” previously referred only to a body part. Using it to mean a person…

April 25th, 2012
A doula's view of new life and the Paschal Mystery

I love to talk about birth. A lot.
I assume everyone wants to hear about birth, so at social gatherings, with people I’ve hardly met, I find myself telling birth stories, bodily fluids included. Half of the crowd listens politely before dismissing themselves to “get a refill” on a drink, often finding a more normal person to talk to on their way to the kitchen. The other half presses in, wide-eyed with fascination. What can I say? I’m a doula.
Doulas are an ever-growing presence in navigating the healthcare choices in today’s world. The word doula comes from the Greek word for female servant. Doulas provide physical and emotional support for laboring women. Many people will seek…

April 17th, 2012
Appreciating faith’s unscripted moments

These days, my spiritual life unfolds like it might on an improv stage. Both improv and spirituality have organic qualities, great depth and playfulness, too. And looking at my faith life through the lens of improv comedy helps me reclaim unscripted moments in new ways.
I began attending improv classes in Chicago as a new hobby. Some of the most basic rules of improv are that you have to listen, you have to be able to become a “yes and” person, and you celebrate your mistakes. In both my prayer life and improv, there are moments of uncertainty and a little bit of fear of what will unfold. I must listen to God, trust in what will unfold before me, and sometimes celebrate my mistakes.
I’m not Second City worthy yet or…

April 16th, 2012

Few of us think or live like Don Draper from “Mad Men.” You won’t find me hiding behind my office door drinking whiskey, concealing secret affairs or unseemly behavior. My office doesn’t even have a door. Seeing the way Don treats certain people you might call him heartless. But there’s something about Don Draper that shows he’s truly in touch with the human heart.
In the third episode of season five, Don and his colleague Harry are backstage at a Rolling Stones concert waiting to meet the band’s manager about an advertising deal. While waiting, Don begins speaking to a young female fan:
Don: So what do you like so much about the Rolling Stones?
Girl: Why don’t you get me backstage and you’ll see.…

April 13th, 2012

“I am Trayvon Martin!”
This has been the rallying cry of so many people (Black and other races too) since the shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old African-American teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer in a suburb outside Orlando, Florida. The watchman, George Zimmerman, claimed self-defense and said he pursued the young black teenager because he looked “suspicious.” This has resulted in an outcry from the black community, and other supporters, asking for justice.
This lack of respect for black male life seems to be a bad story repeated throughout the history of this country. Stereotyping, prejudice, and racism are nothing new to our community (or to other minority groups either), but when a national…

April 12th, 2012

One of the most popular columns I’ve ever written is about struggling with being on time. It led to a TV interview and over two years later people still regularly bring it up in conversation. But working on your own on-timeness can lead to an interesting new issue: being on time when others are not.
It’s one thing to be on time and have everything go smoothly. You can point to your on-timeness and feel a sense of self-satisfaction at having contributed to the proper flow of the universe by having aligned yourself with the way things are meant to be. Call it spiritual pride or call it enjoying the fruits of “skillful means,” we all enjoy it when we do the right thing and things go our way. But what about…

April 10th, 2012
A look at the women at Jesus' tomb and the Resurrection Women of today

We are tired. We feel it is now time to rise up and speak … You are asking, “Who are these women?” I will say we are ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters. For us, this is just the beginning.
– Leymah Gbowee, winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize…

In almost every corner of this world and in almost every epoch of recorded history, women have been entrusted with the care of bodies. We birth them. We feed them. We wash them. We mend them. We comfort them. We fret over them. So it is nothing short of utterly unremarkable that it is women who arrive at the tomb of Jesus to anoint him for burial. It is obvious. It is commonplace. The women who fed him and washed him and looked after him in life come to care for his

April 5th, 2012

As many of you know, I hail for the great state of New Jersey. And when you grow up in the Garden State, there is a rich assortment of personalities that have shaped the culture and the history of New Jersey for generations. Singers, politicians, actors… a wide variety of people who have contributed to this large tapestry we know as American culture. People to look up to, people to model one’s life around. And one of my greatest heroes from my home state is… Tony Soprano.
(Okay, Bruce Springsteen is REALLY my hero from New Jersey. Tony just works better for the direction I’m heading, so just go with me for a bit…)
And I don’t know about you, but I often have times in my life when I don’t always feel like…

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