Our writers invite you along on their journeys through Lent. Follow the play-by-play of their personal spiritual practices and share your own.
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March 17th, 2014
Sometimes I think I dream more when I am awake than when my head is on the pillow.
This might not be true; I have never been a great one for remembering my dreams. But as I journey through my Lenten practice of meditating at least 10-15 minutes a day – which is in truth also a striving for heightened mindfulness – I am becoming increasingly aware of how often my thoughts wander throughout the day.
This is especially noticeable during my designated prayer time. My seemingly simple goal thus far has been to focus on little more than my breathing. Generally, I am good for an inhale and half an exhale before my attention turns elsewhere.
This mattress is pretty comfortable, but the room’s a little cold.
God, I hope it warms up soon. This winter is grinding my gears.
What’s that Cream album called? Disraeli Gears? I should really give it a listen.
Who came up with the expression “cream of the crop”? Most crops aren’t creamy at all.
What caused the Irish Potato Famine? Bad weather?
I bet there was an early heavy metal band called Bad Weather.
Can you believe Paul Ryan listens to …
March 13th, 2014
Three young adults share how Pope Francis has inspired them to deepen their faith
Marcee Treadway Hinds
I actually met with my parish priest about entering RCIA classes and having my daughter baptized just weeks after Pope Francis was elected. As someone who longed to fully enter the Church, in a way I feel like I was called back at an amazing time.
Pope Francis has, for me, been a guiding light in this journey. Every morning on my way to work I listen to the Catholic Channel’s broadcast of daily Mass from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. On most days, Mass is followed by a segment that features an English translation of Pope Francis’ homily. When Pope Francis speaks, I carry his message with me throughout the day.
As someone with a semi-Catholic upbringing (I was baptized Catholic but my family was not practicing), I always had an interest in the Church. I was always nervous about pursuing my faith because I wasn’t sure where I fit in. Pope Francis has made me feel welcome, as if I am a part of the family now.
I am so thankful that we have an amazing pope who exemplifies Jesus’ teachings. One example is a recent video of Pope Francis, …
March 7th, 2014
Busted Halo's® Annual Ash Wednesday Challenge and Photo Contest
Thank you for entering your photos in the Show Us Your Ash Photo Contest! Here are the winners — selected from the photos that received the most votes in the contest:
Happiest Ash a.k.a. “Don’t Be A Jack Ash!” from Carla Hilton
Best FX Ash from Dash X Gonzalez
Best Group Ashes a.k.a. “7th Grade students from Holy Savior Menard” from Renee Robichaux Hicks
Best Parent/Baby Ashes from @MUengineer via Twitter and Theresa Fox Graybill
Best Accident of Expression Ash a.k.a. “first Ash Wednesday for our little lady” from @aimeegrushdavid via Twitter
Most Authentic Winter 2014 Ash from Ciara Boucher Buxton
Best Preschoolers Ashes from Stefanie MacDonald
If you don’t already, follow BustedHaloPhoto on Instagram. Stay tuned for our next photo contest. And now that your ashes have worn away, but there’s still 30+ more days of Lent — check out our Fast Pray Give Lenten Calendar. Each day of Lent, the calendar will feature a Daily Jolt of spiritual contemplation relating to Lent and practical ideas for fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. BONUS: When you’re visiting the calendar you can enter a contest for a chance to win an iPad Air.…
March 4th, 2014
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.
This year you can enter our Lent Contest EVERY DAY and be placed in a random drawing to win the contest’s grand prize — an iPad Air! An added bonus: If you share the contest with your friends through Facebook, and they enter the contest, you receive more chances to win. The 16 GB iPad Air Grand Prize will be awarded after Easter in a random drawing from all eligible entries. See the contest rules here.
Busted Halo’s® Fast Pray Give Calendar is completely unflunkable, entirely relevant and totally inspiring. The idea isn’t to be perfect but to continue on our path, so …
March 4th, 2014
Does "adding something" really add to your Lenten experience? How traditional sacrifice can bring you closer to God
If you’re up on all those Catholic trends, this scenario has probably played out during the last couple Lents: You turn down a beer or dessert, explaining that you’ve given it up for these next 40 days. Your Catholic friend smiles tolerantly. “Oh, that’s nice,” she says. “Instead of giving something up, I’m actually adding a daily Bible reading.”
“Adding something” has been the new approach to the old Lenten tradition, and it’s not hard to understand why. For too long, many Catholics have sacrificed something easy or gone through the motions. Worse, some give up things more for self-improvement or dieting purposes than spiritual ones. The motto of those dessert-skippers might as well be “Skinny for God!”
So last year, after decades of giving something up (including, yes, desserts), I decided to try adding something. It was a daily reading. Embarrassingly, I can’t even remember whether it was from the Bible or a devotional. That’s because it didn’t work. As strict as I always was about avoiding a sacrificed treat or activity, I did not manage to get the extra reading done. Ever overscheduled, I seemed to be getting up early and going to bed late enough as it …
February 28th, 2014
Churches will be packed on Ash Wednesday -- Let Busted Halo® help you keep folks coming back!
A scene from Ash Wednesday at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary, Indiana. (CNS file photo by Karen Callaway, Northwest Indiana Catholic)
We are a few short weeks away from the beginning of Lent — a time when we’ve seen people in their 20s–30s pay particular attention to their spiritual lives. On Ash Wednesday, tens of thousands of young adults who do not regularly attend church will come to receive ashes and take a step toward deepening their faith.
What happens to them the following Sunday? And the weeks after that?
As young adults make a turn in their spiritual journey toward your church on Ash Wednesday, download, print and share this invitation (PDF below) to deepen their relationship with God. We’ve made a color and a 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.
This year, Busted Halo® will feature a wealth of Lenten resources specifically designed to engage, enrich and enlighten young adult spiritual seekers. One of our most popular Lenten offerings is or FAST PRAY GIVE Lenten Calendar (like an Advent calendar — …
February 24th, 2014
Details like music and flowers are important on your wedding day, but they aren't true preparation for the marriage ahead
Photo Credit: CNS file photo/Jon L. Hendricks
There are few years in one’s life that are more exciting (and sometimes more hectic) than an engagement year. After the proposal begins a slew of preparation activities. Book the church, find the reception venue, select your wedding party, decide on wedding attire, choose flowers, select music… “I could never plan a wedding in only a year!” a co-worker once told me. The truth is, a wedding can be planned in a few months if you really have to. All that stuff, while important to making the wedding day memorable, is — in the words of my future father-in-law — “fluff.”
The truly important stuff of a wedding is the growth and preparation of the couple themselves, so that the many years following their few hours of public celebration will be strong and joyful. This means making certain decisions intentionally, long before the wedding day. One of these decisions is selecting a marriage preparation program.
The Catholic Church has a lot to offer when it comes to marriage prep, but as far as I know, no pre-engagement programs. Since marriage prep programs are typically designed to prepare you for the marriage, not discern …
February 13th, 2014
Tales from a pilgrimage to Lourdes
Mass is celebrated in the grotto at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Last fall, needing a break from the regular distractions and hustle of daily life, I jumped on a plane and hightailed it to Paris with a fabulous friend. I was excited about the trip. However, I remembered thinking that I hadn’t been on a religious retreat in more than seven years. I had gone through a lot of transition — multiple cross-country moves, new jobs, earning my graduate degree, and lots of love gained and lost. So, clearly, I was overdue. When I discovered how easy it was to get to Lourdes from Paris, I decided that it would be great to get some QT at a place where the Blessed Mother had been — where she appeared to St. Bernadette and where miracles have officially been recognized by the Catholic Church by praying “ad Jesum per Mariam” (to Jesus through Mary).
Getting to Lourdes from Paris by train was easy. But as a type A extrovert who had never traveled alone, my mind went a mile a minute and I was nervous. Who would I talk to? What would I …
February 12th, 2014
One of my new “guilty pleasures” is grabbing the Magazine section of the Sunday Boston Globe and going straight to “Dinner With Cupid,” which my husband has rechristened, “Dinner with Stupid.”
It is a microcosm of the dating game. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Globe, this feature pairs people (mostly young, mostly straight), matching up their list of attributes and interests in the hopes that they might promote a match of some sort, or at the very least, an enjoyable blind date.
Contestants fill out forms stating what they like to do on a Saturday night, who would play them in a movie, what is their favorite way to spend downtime, and more. The magazine shows pictures of the two people, usually a man and a woman, with their descriptions on the side. Then — and I’m not quite sure how they do this — there is a narrative of the blind date with both parties talking about how comfortable they were, times when the conversation flagged, when it took off, and at what point either of them knew they would want to date again or conversely knew that this blind date would …
February 10th, 2014
On Valentine’s Day, celebrate love and also reflect on what’s holding you back from loving more fully
Imagine getting a Valentine’s Day card that reads “Happy Valentine’s Day!” (on the front) and “What are you afraid of?” (on the inside).
Yes, I know. That is single-handedly the worst and scariest Valentine’s Day card. Ever.
Though it might seem ironic, I love all the Valentine’s Day hoopla. That’s right: I love going to CVS in the month of February. I love the cheesy gifts, the dozen roses, and the candy hearts. Yes, I’m that person who makes all the plush toys sing in the seasonal aisle. For many years, I found myself agonizing over which Hallmark greeting card to buy in the card aisle: Funny? Sappy? Romantic? Heartfelt?
However, now at age 28, I genuinely wonder if we are really getting anywhere with Hallmark. In my own life and in the lives of friends, I’ve watched relationships begin, grow, deteriorate, end, or work out. So, having witnessed and lived through those experiences, if I had to design a card for Valentine’s Day, it might look like the one described in the introduction.
‘There is no fear in love’
I can’t remember the first time I heard someone say, “Hate is not the opposite of love. Fear is the …
February 6th, 2014
Evan Lysacek of the United States performs during the men’s free skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)
This February brings about a very special time in the sports calendar that comes around only once every four years: the Winter Olympics. The coastal resort town of Sochi, Russia, has been selected to play host to the world this winter. There will likely be much fanfare and media attention given to the medalists and other contenders whose prominence transcends their own sport. Over the years, Kristi Yamaguchi, Peekaboo Street, and Shaun White have become names familiar to the U.S. Olympic enthusiast. Additionally, athletes competing in sports particularly popular during the Winter Games have become household names and a part of the pop cultural landscape, sometimes for the drama beyond the sport itself (think: Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding). This year we have already seen Jason Brown rise to quick stardom, and countless Olympic fans have their eyes on the track-star turned bobsledder, LoLo Jones. Figure skaters, skiers, snowboarders, and bobsledders may become worldwide stars … for at least a moment.
But of the hundreds of athletes who receive medals (or at …
February 5th, 2014
The connection between faith, writing and waiting
I just read a really terrific short story, and now I feel myself bobbing like a cork toward a deep dark cataract of despair. On the one hand, part of me truly delights in this well-crafted, mysterious piece of prose by a writer of growing renown. At the same time, though, the marvelment I feel is coated in a very thick layer of, not envy exactly, but a sense of comparative professional inadequacy. I stare at the pages in my hands like I’m trying to decipher hieroglyphs, and I ask myself: How did he do that? How did he write something so subtle and memorable and complex? Why can’t I do that? When will I be able to do that? Will I ever?
I say that I’m floating toward a deep dark cataract of despair — deep and dark, yes, but not unfamiliar. I have plunged off of this particular waterfall before, many times throughout my tenure as a graduate student of creative writing. However, even though I feel the currents of self-doubt sweeping me once again toward that bottomless pit of I’m-not-good-enough, I don’t think I’m going to fall off this time. Over the past few years I have …
February 4th, 2014
A Q/A about handling delicate family dynamics
Question: My boyfriend and I have been together for five years. Within our first year together, and prior to meeting his family, he received a Facebook message from his older brother, stating that I was no good for him, and that I was going to break his heart and leave him wounded. Shortly after that, when I went home with him to meet his family, his brother would not look at me and barely said hello. Ever since then, whenever we have been in the same room or building, his brother completely ignores me … Moreover, when my boyfriend attempts to speak to his parents about the situation, they act as if they have never noticed it and immediately dismiss the problem. What should I do? If we are eventually going to be family, how do I go about dealing with this or approaching him?
Answer: Sounds like you have discovered one of the secrets of marriage: you marry not only the man, but his family. And, he marries yours. When we dream about getting married, we don’t really consider family dynamics. We think a lot about the good, and we tend to polish over the not good. Even when
February 3rd, 2014
Lonely blue jays and cardinals mark the days of midwinter, spreading color sparingly with their fretted flights above browned lawns and bare, grey trees. Even silver-haired snowbirds are growing weary of southern hibernation and long to return to the blooming laughter and hustle of families and children along street corners, park benches and backyard barbecues.
The world moves with stiff joints and shallow breaths through mornings where the step from bed feels like an arctic swim, while our motivation to change seems as stuck as a Prius on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in an ice storm. With many weeks of cold still ahead, we are already growing irritated with wool coats, early evening’s darkness, frosted windshields and the settling reality that our hopes for the New Year have long since faded.
The midwinter blues can get to everyone.
The Polar Eskimos even had a word for this sensation, “perlerorneq,” which is translated by some to mean “feel the weight of life … weariness or a miserable sadness.” If that sounds depressing, then consider that Eskimos probably didn’t practice New Year’s resolutions! Remember those grand decisions about our lives several weeks ago that have fallen flat: to quit drinking, …
January 31st, 2014
Brrrrrr! It’s cold this winter, so we’ve chosen an appropriate snow-covered image for this year’s February wallpaper that includes a lot of (weather-related) days to look forward to.
Of course, Sunday is the Big Game day, but it’s also Groundhog Day, when the shadow of a common earth rodent (basically a large squirrel) determines if we’ll have another six weeks of this cold nonsense or not.
Don’t forget about the Feast of St. Blaise on February 3 — if you’re under the weather or have had to miss work (like some of us unfortunately have,) you should be looking forward to this saint’s feast day where you can head to your local Catholic church and receive a special throat blessing.
The feasts of St. Agatha and Our Lady of Lourdes are heading our way in a week or two.
And last, but not least, even though the Church doesn’t officially celebrate the feast of St. Valentine on the 14th, it’s still a pretty special holiday where couples out there can look forward to warming up together.
The wallpaper is available in sizes that will fit both widescreen and full screen monitors, as well as mobile devices. Download the …
January 29th, 2014
January is drawing to a close, which means football season is as well. For some, this is a bittersweet time, full of Super Bowl fervor followed by a hollowness that cannot be filled until the draft starts up in May (or at least until SportsCenter begins avidly discussing new prospects later in February). But for others, myself included, the Super Bowl is a time of dread. This year, with Super Bowl XLVIII coming to my city, I cannot be less enthusiastic about a bunch of burly men rolling around on some fake grass. And with a snowy polar vortex in full swing, I think we already have enough to worry about without traffic jams, crazed fans, and the “NFL Experience” taking over the New York metropolitan area.
If you’re like me and are trying to avoid the Super Bowl as best you possibly can, look no further — I have compiled a new list of enjoyable alternatives to the Big Game that will guarantee a football-free Sunday, just like any other between March and August.
The First Annual Kitten Bowl
The Puppy Bowl will be played for its 10th year on Animal Planet, but the Hallmark Channel (my mother’s favorite!) …
January 27th, 2014
A football signed by the Denver Broncos and presented to Pope Francis. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
We often hear of things being super, but how super are they really? Superstorm Sandy was not any fun for people in the Northeast. Superman isn’t even a real human person, only a character of comic and film fiction. And the Super Mario Bros. don’t have anything on me and my two brothers. (Please… we can jump higher and grow better mustaches.) But the Super Bowl? That might actually be worthy of being called “super.”
It’s Super Pop Cultural
Although the Super Bowl is really just a football game, is it so much more than that. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched athletic events on television every year. It carries with it many pop subcultures. Super Bowl commercials are often more watched and talked about than the game itself. Many people literally watch the game for the commercials.
The game has a show-stopping halftime performance. The biggest names in music and entertainment are tapped to entertain millions at one of sports’ largest events. Beyoncé’s performance last year was so monumental that I know some people who referred to the Super Bowl as …
January 22nd, 2014
When I was diagnosed with pericarditis — an inflammation of the fibrous sac around the heart — while volunteering in Peru, the reaction of a number of people surprised me. Until that point, most of my Peruvian friends had demonstrated no medical proclivity whatsoever. Suddenly, I had no shortage of people anxious to share any tidbit of therapeutic information they could.
“You’re lonely,” said some. “You need a girlfriend. Or more male friends.” While I appreciated their concern that I was living with four female roommates, this theory seemed to fall short in explaining how my heart’s membrane swelled to unhealthy proportions.
“You are so skinny,” offered the cooks at the parish cafeteria where I ate. “You aren’t eating enough.” Again, while I was grateful for the guidance and extra helpings of lunch, this did not really match anything my doctors told me.
“Why aren’t you wearing a jacket?” exclaimed the women selling crafts in the plaza of the Andean town where I lived. “You’re going to get sick again!”
I filed each piece of advice away with all the rest, regularly noting that I should probably confirm with real physicians whether there were any connections between the state of …
January 15th, 2014
Making the most of a day off courtesy of Mother Nature
When I was a teacher, I used to view snow days very differently. Each time school was called off, I’d feel like I was back in my twin-sized bed, under flannel sheets, in my Garfield nightgown, with my mom peeking through my bedroom door to deliver the good news before going to work. Few experiences could transport me back to childhood so quickly in my adult life as having a snow day, even if I was the one, now, in front of a room full of squirrelly students saying, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll have to listen to the news tomorrow morning,” secretly praying for school to be called off and just as excited.
In my years after teaching, I started working another job and began commuting to work. Snow days quickly became not cool. I was an hour shy of my car being stranded on Lakeshore Drive in the infamous Chicago blizzard in February 2011. After I moved out of the Midwest, far from home, and began hopping on and off of planes regularly, I began to resent snow and I dreaded seeing “CANCELLED” at the airport.
It wasn’t until last winter that I reunited with …