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November 4th, 2009
A follow-up as the debate enters its final stage

Thousands of you read, responded to and shared my August piece about the health care debate and Catholicism. We are now in the final phase of the Congressional process and some things are clearer than they were then. Catholic Church leaders wanted undocumented immigrants included in the bill. They are not. Sadly, the Church stands almost alone among organizations in this country in its concern for the undocumented. They wanted universal coverage, and to the surprise of many, it looks like it will happen.
But, though the House bill does not fund or encourage abortion services, the bishops and most Catholics wanted specific language keeping abortion out of the bill entirely, and making it impossible for a future…

November 3rd, 2009
After 500 years, St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises continue to transform lives

If you were able to conduct a free association exercise among Catholics, the term “Jesuit” would most likely evoke responses like “educators,” “intelligent,” “worldly” and perhaps even “liberal.” But as the largest male religious order in the Catholic church, the Society of Jesus—as the Jesuits are officially known—has nearly 20,000 members spread out across 112 nations around the globe who are involved in an endless variety of work ranging from education and pastoral ministry to medicine, the law, social justice etc. The one common bond that ties this diverse international group together however is their experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
Formulated…

November 3rd, 2009
"My family has been trying to fix the issue."

In this video, Walter talks about the difficulties of facing an uncertain future.
In video 2, Walter talks more about how he did not know he was undocumented until he was applying for college.
In video 1, Walter explains how he was caught by ICE and detained for twenty day.…

November 2nd, 2009
An unassuming little tool in my spiritual first aid kit that can have a big impact

I want to share with you a little method with a big impact: the Welcoming Prayer. This unassuming little method has helped me many times. What’s your first impulse when you have a “bad” feeling? If you’re like me, it’s usually to suppress it. But we all know that doesn’t work. What you focus on sticks around. This is one of the big lessons you learn through meditation. If you try to suppress a thought, it becomes your entire focus. Worse than before.
But while a regular meditation practice can inculcate a balanced relationship with your feelings and emotions, with the serenity that comes from that, sometimes you need help now, in the field. You can’t exactly sit down on…

October 30th, 2009
Southern Pagans peek out of the broom closet

Tom Cornwell had a secret stashed in the ottoman of his Savannah, Georgia, home. A former Jehovah’s Witness elder and minister for 20 years, he worshipped the Egyptian goddess Isis. Cornwell, 62, thought his secret was safe — until his devout Jehovah’s Witness wife announced she’d found his cache of witchcraft books.
Cornwell (not his real name) came out of the pagan closet to her that night, and says she took it better than expected. “I think the Goddess was watching over me,” he says.
A year later, he studies with a Wiccan coven and is a member of Savannah Pagan Meetup. Cornwell, who still hasn’t come out publicly about his beliefs, says he joins a growing number of pagans…

October 27th, 2009
A conversation on celebrity, race, pedophilia and the Church sex abuse scandal

The sudden death of Michael Jackson this past summer took the world by surprise and led to spontaneous fan tributes around the globe and countless conversations about the King of Pop’s place in popular culture. Many of those conversations are bound to be revisited with the release this week of This Is It…, a film that promises behind the scenes footage of Jackson’s final days as he was preparing for sold out London concerts. While many of the discussions sparked by his passing have dealt with his enormous talent (and his equally enormous strangeness), his ever-shifting appearance, the charges of pedophilia and the issue of race, we are fairly certain that the conversation that erupted in the Busted

October 25th, 2009
The recent Sedona sweat lodge tragedy highlights some dangers in our obsession with self help

What would you do for spiritual enlightenment and personal success? Would you agree to spend 36 hours alone in the desert without food or water to help clear your mind and find your true potential? Would you follow a trusted leader into a dark, hot tent to experience a version of a centuries-old Native American sweat lodge ritual? History shows that in the name of self-help, many people will do just that — and more.
Three people died and more than a dozen others were injured as a result of an Oct. 8 retreat in Sedona, Arizona, led by James Arthur Ray, a nationally known self-help guru. According to interviews with participants and their family members, more than 50 people — within hours of returning from a desert “vision…

October 21st, 2009
Artists in a provocative new show at a Catholic church discuss art, God and religion

Throughout the side chapels and the interior of St. Paul the Apostle Church in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, the historically significant artwork on permanent display now shares space with a compelling and eclectic mix of contemporary pieces. God Doesn’t Like Ugly, as the exhibition is titled, is the third major group exhibition presented by Openings, an international art movement based out of New York — and sponsored by the Paulist Fathers — in which artists explore the connection between their creativity and spirituality. This year’s exhibition, which is free and runs until October 30, represents the work of fifteen artists, who were invited to address the show’s…

October 20th, 2009
"I have no desire to be in this country."

In this final episode, Prerna talks about the repercussions of leaving Fiji and why she continues to stay and work in the U.S.
In video six, Prerna discusses the fallout with her family, community and school as a result of her new relationship.
In video five, Prerna discusses her first love while growing up in Fiji.
In video four, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.
In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.
In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.
In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

October 20th, 2009
"I was so numb that I couldn't even cry."

In this sixth video, Prerna discusses the fallout with her family, community and school as a result of her new relationship.
In video five, Prerna discusses her first love while growing up in Fiji.
In video four, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.
In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.
In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.
In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

October 20th, 2009
LeBron James' childhood coach and mentor discusses family, faith and why basketball is truly More Than a Game

In the white-hot glare of worldwide celebrity there are no shadows, there are only outsized figures of triumph or scorn. They are presented to us as fully formed creations, media amplified surfaces without depth who occupy our fantasies until something else inevitably takes their place. This strange and rare sort of fame — which basketball phenom LeBron James enjoys — generally obscures the flesh and blood reality behind the image. A great deal of the power behind Kristopher Belman’s documentary More Than a Game… comes from its ability to trace James’ career back to the time when he was an 11-year-old AAU basketball player, back to the Salvation Army gym in Akron, Ohio, where he befriended

October 19th, 2009
Letting go of our burdens

We’ve all heard the jokes. Ever since the term “baggage” entered popular use thanks to the 80s inner child movement, it’s been both a warning — “I have a lot of baggage” — and a punchline.
Example: A few weeks ago on Jay Mohr’s sitcom, Gary Unmarried…, before he meets his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, she says: “And I really like him, so please don’t make that joke about how his strong grip will come in handy when he’s carrying all my baggage, OK?”
The broad definition of baggage is: something from the past that continues to weigh you down.
Christine used the word “fraught” in last week’s excellent column

October 16th, 2009
A Catholic Relief Services worker in Indonesia

I’m an information officer for Catholic Relief Services in Asia. This past month, we’ve had our hands full keeping up with the string of natural disasters that has hit the region. From my home base in Cambodia, I was sent to the Philippines to cover our response to severe flooding; then an earthquake hit Sumatra — one of the islands that make up Indonesia, so I caught a plane to Padang, the city closet to the quake’s epicenter.
I was new to extreme quake damage — its dangers and surprises. The first week of any emergency is usually the toughest; I’ve recorded my impressions of the experience.

Day One
The first sign of trouble is at the airport in Padang, Indonesia: there’s no water…

October 15th, 2009
"We fell in love with each other."

In this fifth video, Prerna discusses her first love while growing up in Fiji.
In video four, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.
In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.
In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.
In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

October 13th, 2009
Busted Halo's daily dose of spiritual wisdom and action

When we launched our Fast Pray Give calendar this past Lent, we quickly learned that our readers really loved checking back each day for the little piece of inspiration or information we offered, as well as the small spiritual challenge we gave them along with it. In the midst of their busy lives, people were attracted to the idea of carving out a moment of spiritual contemplation, and coupling it with a meaningful — and very doable — action.
With that discovery in mind, we decided to develop our “Daily Jolt.” Beginning today, Busted Halo will offer a very brief daily insight or inspiration in text, video or audio form on our homepage — and through our Twitter feed and Facebook fan page…

October 13th, 2009
Among women, relationships can get complicated

“We need to talk.”
The four dreaded words that strike fear into all of us. “We need to talk” is almost never the start of a fun conversation. It’s usually about how you’ve done something wrong. Or how the relationship isn’t working for the other person. And while we all dread those four little words in our romantic relationships, I’d argue that hearing them from your best friend is even worse.
I hate drama within friendships. I firmly believe they should be easy relationships. If a friend calls to cancel lunch at the last minute, I don’t immediately think it’s about me. She’s busy; we’ll reschedule; it’s fine. And I assume my…

October 8th, 2009
Ministry and connection in 140 words or less

Religion has found Twitter, the 3-year-old web service that allows people to dish on their daily lives in 140 characters or less. Increasingly, monks, nuns, pastors, rabbis and followers of all faiths are using Twitter as a means of spreading their faith, talking about faith-related news stories, connecting with their congregations and sending their prayers into cyberspace. Consider the following:
Each morning and evening on Twitter, @TheUrbanAbbey has prayer services in 140-character bites. The monastery without walls included this prayer in a recent morning service: “Giver of the present, hope for the future: save us from the time of trial. When prophets warn of doom, free us from our helplessness.”…

October 6th, 2009
The Biblical Thanksgiving

Each fall, Jews celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, named after the “huts” the Jewish people lived in during their 40 years in the wilderness. Sukkot begins on the night of the largest full moon of the year, the harvest moon. This year it began at sundown on Friday, October 2, and runs through October 10. As a celebration of the year’s largest harvest, Sukkot reminds us to give thanks. The American Pilgrims understood this biblical significance of Sukkot, and made it the basis for Thanksgiving.
Tradition calls us to “live” for a week in a sukkah (sukkot… is the plural form) — a hut, open to the sky, with some leaves for a roof. (Eating meals there can qualify for “living,”

October 6th, 2009
"You can't spell dream without drama"

In this fourth video, Prerna talks about her experience biking from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA.
In video three, Prerna’s family is trying to avoid foreclosure on their home.
In video two, Prerna becomes an activist, a blogger and a volunteer.
In video one, we learn how Prerna, Fijian student, who was applying for residential paperwork, became the only undocumented member of her family.…

October 4th, 2009
You won't miss anything important

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I don’t mean to put anyone out of work in this difficult economy — I even have several friends in this profession — but I implore you to turn off the news and leave it off. Mainly, I want you to turn off the local news, where “if it bleeds, it leads” and the priority, after titillating you with gore, is to scare you — because they thrive if we think we have to watch or we’ll die.

There are a number of reasons I recommend turning off the news. First, life is stressful enough already. Who needs this? Second, if you are powerless over something, there’s usually no benefit in worrying about it. Third, exposing yourself regularly to the ugliest aspects of society darkens and coarsens your view of other people, which takes you away from compassion and love, and thus away from God. It undermines your spiritual fitness.

Rather than helping us better to mourn — to see the suffering in the world with an open heart — watching the news regularly hardens our hearts. In order to face so much suffering with no option of relevant action, we detach from it; we tune it out, if you will.

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