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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 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 11th, 2013

Q: Why is the church so focused on banning contraception when over-crowding and over population is greatly dwindling the earth’s resources?

A: The Church is not trying to “ban contraception” — though given some of the recently media coverage I can understand why someone might think that it is.

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”…

January 9th, 2013

New Year’s resolutions make my liver quiver. Yet each year, I’ve begun with hope and the resolve to point my life in a new direction, armed with ways to do better and be better.
Those intentions usually fall by the wayside by the end of January.
Plans to lose those 10 pounds, save more money, watch less television, and guzzle only a small amount of Sprite each week quickly wane, and I settle comfortably into my old habits from the previous year.
But this year has been different. I completed my master’s of arts degree in a writing program in December. I’ve entered a new phase of life — one that requires I live on a different wavelength than I ever have before.
This rings especially true in regard to my spiritual…

January 9th, 2013

If I ascend to the heavens,
you are there.
If I fly with the wings of the dawn
and alight beyond the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand hold me fast.
Psalm 139: 8a-10…
In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. At a press conference on the eve of her historic flight, reporters asked her what effect space travel would have on her reproductive organs and whether she was prone to weeping when things didn’t go according to plan. I find it difficult (OK, actually incredibly amusing) to imagine the same questions being posed to Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin. Ride handled these questions — the content of which ranged from insultingly silly to profoundly sexist — with grace,

January 8th, 2013

I feel sorry for priests. Every Sunday they are required to get up in front of a crowd and preach, whether they’re good at it or not. This leaves them wide open for criticism — and, believe me, I’ve not only heard plenty of it, I’ve, unfortunately, done my fare share as well.
A common critique is that they don’t talk enough about morality or doctrine. Another is that what they say isn’t relevant, a complaint I can definitely relate to. Personally, I am tremendously irritated when the homily becomes a barrage of negativity against today’s culture. Then there are those homilies that go nowhere. For instance, I can’t remember a single thing from the homily delivered…

January 8th, 2013

As the world watches its greatest athletes swim laps and nail landings, we’ll look at some gold medal winners in their own right. Each day of the Olympics we’ll feature a spiritual great and some advice for staying fit on your own spiritual journey.…

January 7th, 2013

Anyone who was in college in the 90s remembers the powder keg that was the Los Angeles riots. Sparked by the acquittal of police officers who brutally beat Rodney King, Los Angeles saw some of the worst violence that we could imagine.
And one voice rose above the violence that day. It wasn’t a president or a pope calling for peace, but rather it was the man who had been beaten within an inch of his life, the one man who was wronged by the jury’s decision that day — Rodney King.
“Can we all get along?” King said after watching the violence erupt. He was a black man, victimized by white cops, who now stood up for white people who were being attacked simply for being white and being in the wrong area of Los Angeles at…

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