Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
January 4th, 2013

When I came into the Catholic Church ten years ago, there were a number of things I was a bit unclear about, including: the Pope, the Council of Trent, when exactly to kneel with everyone else so that I did not stick out like a foolish person with no wit, and — Eucharistic Adoration. Not only did I not know what it was, I could barely say… it.
I remember seeing our priest carrying the monstrance (another baffling thing I could barely say – it’s the special vessel used to carry the Blessed Sacrament) down the aisle, with the end of his sleeve wrapped around its handle like a good housewife holding a hot handle with an oven mitt. What’s with the cloth covering and all?
“Holy,” a friend whispered

January 2nd, 2013

Merry Christmas from Busted Halo®!
A lot of people think Christmas only lasts one day, or worse yet, that December 25 ends the Christmas season. In fact, this date is just the beginning of Christmas in the Church, a season that actually lasts about 3 weeks.
In the tradition of receiving fun gifts, games and surprises on this holiest of days, we present you with Christmasopoly, a fun way to be informed about how long Christmastime really lasts. Use this as you journey through the 8, 12 and 20 days of the season, doing Christmas, all of it, the right way.
Click the image below to view a larger size, and click here for a printable version.

 …

December 31st, 2012

As the viral video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” by Jefferson Bethke, approaches 18 million views, I will add my response into the clutter. I’ve seen pro-life responses. I’ve seen Catholic exceptionalism responses. I’ve seen atheist and non-Christian responses that agree but then have their own conclusions. I am not interested in getting into theological debate, or in driving wedges between people. I want to make a simple point. It’s the same point I often make to friends who say they’re spiritual but not religious. And to some atheist friends right after they’ve explained why they don’t believe in God.
It is this: What you are calling religion…

December 11th, 2012

Waiting is a fact of life. We wait in lines. We wait at stop lights. We wait for babies to be born. We wait, and wait, and wait. Our response is often one of wanting to “get it over with.” From a child’s annoying “Are we there yet?” to impatient drivers cutting off other drivers to get someplace quicker, we seem to have an aversion to waiting.
The flip side to waiting, however, is expectation, anticipation and hope. This is beautifully captured in the Spanish language. The verb esperar means “wait, expect and… hope.” One of the themes of Advent is waiting. It is usually cast in terms of our expectation for a Savior — the pre-Christian expectation of the Jewish people for

December 10th, 2012

We all know that Advent has become a counter-cultural time for patience and waiting, a virtue becoming less and less known to our fast-paced world. I recently ordered an iPad mini but was finding myself with growing impatience since I had to wait two weeks for its delivery. Such things can be testing for us. The holiday season is especially prone to these feelings and reactions.
Here are five steps for practicing true Advent patience using the example of standing in a long checkout line at a busy store: You notice a woman at the front of the line who has been at the cash register for 10 minutes already causing a bit of commotion. You don’t know precisely the cause of the slowdown.

Pause… — You begin to notice

December 6th, 2012

‘Twas the week before Christmas
and all through our home,
were the decor and dressings
of a quaint yuletide tome.
School-made stockings were hung
to the hymns of a choir,
In the radiant glow
of our fireplace…fire!!!…

Horror ensued as I worried how Santa would ever survive his traditional entrance to our home via chimney. Worse still, how would the robot that he was sure to bring going to fare in the soot and heat? Though I’d been told that Santa worked through my family and friends to bring the presents on Christmas morning, I was always convinced that somehow, somewhere, he really did exist. Ironically, Santa proved me right not at Christmas, but at Easter.
The Easter I became Catholic, members of the parish

November 26th, 2012

Although we rarely slow down to consider it, most of the time we live as voyagers moving about solely for the sake of discovering the next temporary provision. Our lives will certainly look a lot like that over the next few weeks as the Christmas shopping frenzy commences. We will scurry about, our fingers freshly stained with Black Friday advertisements, participating in the mad rush for that perfect gift.
I was on my own Yuletide expedition when I happened upon a nativity scene at the local “Stuff Mart” the other day and noticed the bearded travelers sitting before a baby with gifts in hand. The figurines left me meditating about these nomads of the Bible. They’ve been called astronomers, priests, and even…

November 15th, 2012

Recently, I stumbled across something called The Happiness Project. I discovered it as I poked around Heather King’s blog “Shirt of Flame” one day. Heather is a Catholic convert (like me), former “barfly” (unlike me), and a contemplative who is passionate about her faith and writing. Gretchen, the woman who wrote The Happiness Project…, discovered Heather’s blog, was fascinated, and shot some questions to her about happiness.
I began to feel uncomfortable as I read further, muttering things like, “White people’s problems,” and other critical labels. Suddenly I remembered one of Woody Allen’s early films when he is making love to some woman

November 8th, 2012

The liturgical season can often seem out of sync with the rest of popular society. With insane hurricanes and contentious political theater unraveling across the world, it is hard to believe time right now is merely just “ordinary.” Current events aside, pretty much any time after Columbus Day, as the hours grow darker and the air has a certain nip in it — becomes “extended Advent.”  This preparation for the “the coming” or “arrival” of Christmas is heralded by radio stations, marketers and commerce across the country with pomp, fanfare, coupons, propaganda, jingles, jangles, and seasonally appropriate beer and ice cream — Christmas is near, and we just have to leap the hurdles…

November 7th, 2012
November -- A month for remembering those who have gone before us

Since becoming Catholic, I must confess that I look forward to November — the month when we commemorate the dead. It’s a time to remember those who have gone before us and upon whose shoulders we now stand. It is a month when we give thanks for the legacies of our departed wisdom figures and reconcile ourselves to our fallen adversaries. We lament perished innocents, lost victims, and slain heroes who remind us of life’s challenges that we still must face.

October 31st, 2012

Hello, Northeast. How are you?
It’s okay, you don’t have to answer that question. Can we buy you a drink? Let us buy you a drink.
We know. This sucks. And we wish we could tell you the nightmare will be over soon, but the fact is this is going to suck for a long time yet. Even after the waters recede, there’s still the matter of piecing your lives back together. There’s paperwork, lots and lots of paperwork. You’ll have to dig through all of your waterlogged belongings and make wrenching decisions about what’s salvageable, and you’ll have to make those decisions faster than you’d like. Some of you will lose what’s irreplaceable: your children’s baby pictures, your grandmother’s wedding dress.…

October 16th, 2012

Fall has long been my favorite season, but this year I enter it with a different set of experiences and thoughts that have changed my perspective. I come to this season with the recent loss of my mother weighing on my heart.
There’s new meaning in the leaves falling and the trees mourning their coverings. Do they know they will be full of life and leaves once again? Do they know the God who created them has plans for their fullness of life and will return them to the splendor of green they are for the spring and summer?
I find myself asking these same questions. Will I feel full of life again after this season of mourning? Will God bring me through the darkness and help me transition into a spring way of life? I look to others…

October 5th, 2012
Reflections on the Rosary

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the rosary.
It stems from long road trips with my very Catholic family, where the CD I had been playing through the car speakers was suddenly turned off, my parents’ rosaries pulled out from the glove compartment and for the next 15-20 minutes I was forced to endure an incessant babble of words repeated over and over. I understood the importance of prayer, I just didn’t see why we had to make an already long and tedious drive all the more so by becoming quiet and serious, with the same two or three prayers recited in a nearly mindless chant. I was at a loss so I sat quietly while my parents prayed, waiting until I could turn the…

September 19th, 2012

For some time now I have been faithfully following the little blurbs on the “Saint of the Day” in my various religious readings and Internet sites. These seem to include very young and virtuous girls in Italy who fend off rapists and then forgive them in the end; women who married young, had a gazillion children, forgave their husbands their infidelities and then founded orders of nuns who cared for the poor and the sick; holy men who became doorkeepers at monasteries and blew people away with their advice and wisdom.
This is not to knock these saints! By no means. It’s just to say — I cannot see myself in them. I wasn’t a virgin for very long; I am not humble and generous; I don’t…

September 18th, 2012

In my late 20s, I began manifesting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I had been attacked twice at knifepoint as a child and was able to keep the memories pretty well tucked into my unconscious, but at a certain point my unconscious won. As I began sifting through the memories and the pain, I also began experiencing tremendous anger toward God. How could he ever let something like that happen to me?
‘God, where were you?’
Many people have confronted this same dilemma. We call it the problem of evil. How can an all-loving, completely good God allow evil to happen to his children? The response that I had heard repeatedly was, unfortunately, only a portion of St. Thomas Aquinas’ treatment…

August 27th, 2012

It is a constant struggle to try to find God and peace of mind in a city of almost 3 million people. Living in Chicago for two years has meant discovering unique ways to escape the rumbling elevated trains outside my apartment window and the bustle of foot traffic along Michigan Avenue heading to work.
I rely on public transportation to take me from point A to point B to point C and back to point A. When I lived in California I owned a car and getting away from the noise was much simpler. Finding God oftentimes meant taking a short drive with the windows open, blasting Coldplay through the car speakers, and gazing at the Pacific Ocean mile after endless mile. I inhaled fresh air and hit pause on my life during those drives. There…

August 16th, 2012

I’m honored and excited to tell my longtime column readers here that I’ve been invited to start a blog on Patheos. This column isn’t going anywhere, but I want to share what’s happening in the blog.
Over three years ago I started writing this column about personal spirituality, with an emphasis on useful tools and tips. In the new blog I’ll continue that theme, but it will be much broader and with near daily posts. The name of the blog is “On the Way” and the Way has many meanings. Each touches on part of what I’ll be covering:
The path
Many spiritual traditions speak of a way or path or road — staying on it, straying from it, turning back in the right direction.…

July 19th, 2012

Very few things are actually important to know in real time. Some things are fun… to know in real time, like watching live sports or reality show results episodes, but it is rare that our knowing something sooner makes a difference. There’s a very long but fascinating post on SCOTUSblog about CNN’s fumbling of reporting on the Supreme Court decision concerning the Affordable Care Act. In it, SCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein says CNN (and for a shorter time, Fox) got the result exactly wrong, stating definitively that the mandate and bill were dead, because of three things. Two — lack emergency procedures and not trusting reliable sources — involve process, but the third is interesting:

July 16th, 2012

Oftentimes, when I wear one of my sorority sweatshirts or T-shirts, friends say, “You were in a sorority? I didn’t know that,” with a look of surprise. “Why are you surprised?” I ask. They reply, “You just don’t seem like that type.”
Fight it though we try, it’s hard to escape life without having stereotypes or preconceived notions about the groups we belong to. I am certainly not exempt, myself. Living in a large metropolis like Chicago, it’s easy to see someone on the train, learn where someone lives — or even what baseball team they cheer for — and not register some sort of thought. Everyone is, consciously or otherwise, asserting some piece of his or her identity, which is being…

July 5th, 2012

A June 30 NY Times Opinionator blog post by Tim Kreider called “The Busy Trap” created a lot of buzz among my friends, shared on Facebook with comments like, “If you read only one thing, ever, read this.” (Sorry, Emily.) A thread of professional jealousy made me want to respond to each friend’s enthusiastic share with the snarky comment, “I refer you to my 2009 column ‘How Sweet To Do Nothing,’” but I resisted. And I wanted to find fault with the post, but I could not. Its main themes are ones I touch on regularly, and it addresses them well…

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