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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

March 29th, 2012

I wasn’t going to write about The Hunger Games movie – I’m a huge fan of the books and had no advance screening, so I just went to the theater with everyone else on opening night as a consumer. But I have to share my reaction to concern expressed about The Hunger Games…‘ violence which I’ve read in the days following the movie’s release. I was certainly very interested to see how the makers of the movie would deal with translating the book’s extreme brutality against and among children into a movie that children could watch. I am surprised they went as far as they did and think they came very close to the edge. There’s lots of blood, and a few of the children are killed onscreen

March 28th, 2012
Giving up something extreme, like your car, provides spiritual benefits

Since I was a teenager, I’d always been a heroic sacrificer of chocolate, candy, or sweets come Lent. I heart sugar, so it was genuinely hard. But looking back, I was probably doing it as much for my looks as for God.
In 2010, I took a slice out of my vanity by giving up Facebook. Robbed of the chance to check my profile and see how great I looked on the outside, and how much everyone wanted to post messages to me, I soon realized how little those things had to do with the person I was made to be.
Well, the next year I hit upon the idea of sacrificing something even tougher: my car. Giving up driving isn’t possible for everyone — not with the way our cities and small towns are designed — but a JustFaith course on social…

March 27th, 2012

When I started writing for Busted Halo, the first piece I wrote, “What Sticks To Our Fingers,” was about death and what is left to us after a loved one passes on. It was pretty intense. And sad. I’ve been told, also moving. My editor suggested that for my first Busted Halo post I might want to write something a tad less saddening. (Is that a word? Is it theological?) We ended up running “What Sticks to Our Fingers” after all, but here’s the other piece I came up with:
We are in the run-up to Easter, and it always makes the hair on the nape of my neck stand up. It is so definitely not fun.… I’m one of those people for whom saying the Stations of the Cross is the equivalent to getting a root

March 23rd, 2012

If you haven’t read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, then you know some one who has. The books and the movie adaptation, which opens today, have been the subject of an enormous amount of buzz for some time now. The series was hugely popular with young adults almost as soon as the first novel was released. Critics, writers and readers alike have been raving about it.
Set in a not-so-distant dystopian future, The Hunger Games… is essentially about survival in the worst of conditions. A totalitarian government controls the nation of Panem — what was once North America and is now a vast nation of 12 “districts” and the Capitol. To keep its subjects in the districts in submission, this

March 22nd, 2012
A March Madness update and a look at the ethics and morals that “rule” college basketball

March Madness continues and I can hear brackets busting all over the country. I doubt that very few people predicted the outcomes of last Friday’s games. As of right now my bracket is fine, but I have already lost two of my final four teams and will therefore struggle mightily as the tourney continues. As you already know there are several religious institutions in the men’s and women’s tournaments this year, and some of them are doing quite well. Three such schools have made it into the Sweet 16 — Baylor, Marquette, and Xavier. Unfortunately, this number is guaranteed to shrink due to the fact that Baylor and Xavier will play for the right to enter the Elite Eight, while Marquette will battle Florida for…

March 21st, 2012
Why giving up an unexpected but targeted trapping of modern life -- like Facebook -- could be the best thing you do spiritually all year

My boyfriend and I were in Mass last month when an announcement reminded me: Lent was coming. I nudged him, stage-whispering, “Oh no — what am I going to give up? I have two weeks to figure it out!”
He gave me The Eye. “Don’t you dare try to give up something even more extreme,” he said.
For the past few years I’d been on a path I nicknamed “Lent This Year: Extreme Edition.” I started out as a teenager by giving up a little bit more each round: candy, then chocolate, then all sweets. In 2010, I took it to another level, dropping out of Facebook completely for six weeks.
Yes, I know the “Giving-Up-X-for-Lent” model has been looked down upon in recent years by some earnest Catholics. Instead of sacrificing…

March 19th, 2012

I have a confession to make. I am horrible at fasting. Epically horrible. My Lenten fast usually devolves into me eating precisely that from which I have vowed to abstain in a shameful and ridiculous display of my apparent lack of self-mastery. And then (good Catholic that I am) I feel guilty. Epically guilty. There are some for whom this sort of fast (minus, of course, my aforementioned pre-Easter meltdown) is spiritually gratifying and meaningful. To you I say a hearty and sincere, “Huzzah!” It just does not suit me. It does not make me feel any more prepared to walk with Jesus on his way to Calvary and it does not call me to joyful anticipation of the Resurrection. It makes me feel cranky… and ashamed.…

March 18th, 2012
March Madness with a Catholic twist (UPDATED BRACKETS)

Football season is over, the start of the baseball season is still a month away, and yet this is my favorite time of the sports year — March Madness. Aside from the joy I get from any use of alliteration, the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament offers 68 different teams the opportunity to compete for the championship trophy. (Scroll down to read the rest of the article!)
Click the bracket below to view a larger version or if you’d like, click here for a downloadable PDF. And click here for the women’s bracket.…

It is not unusual to see schools with religious associations competing extremely well during the college basketball season and championship tournament. That’s not the case in college

March 17th, 2012
Do they know why they're celebrating?

At Busted Halo we believe everybody has a halo, some are just a little more busted than others.
This St. Patrick’s Day, we’re hitting the streets to see whose faith trivia halo is nicely polished, and whose is a little less shiny.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, and is the traditional religious feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The Irish have observed St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. On St. Patrick’s Day, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon.
Today, people of all backgrounds around the world recognize St. Patrick’s Day, but even though they’re celebrating,…

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