Busted Halo’s introduction to the Sacraments 101 video series continues as Fr. Steven Bell, CSP, answers more questions about what Catholics believe about the Eucharist and receiving Communion: How does the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ? Is Communion a reenactment of the last supper? Should you not receive Communion if you have sinned? Why can’t non-Catholics receive Communion in the Church?
These questions and more are answered in this edition of “Sacraments 201,” a web video series geared toward those who’d like an introduction or refresher course on these important, tangible Catholic experiences of God.
To download this video go here and click the download arrow or choose save or download.
You might have heard — Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints this weekend. Have you ever wondered about the steps to canonization — that is, being named a saint by the Catholic Church? Who is eligible? What happens on the way to being named a saint? Aren’t there miracles involved?
We answer all those questions and more in this saint-filled video.
One of the interesting things about the saints is that many of them were imperfect people. They sinned. They experienced doubt. For many saints, the turnaround in their lives was gradual — it did not necessarily come in one big moment of clarity.
That might sound a lot like your own spiritual journey. When you really think about it, we’re all “saints in the making” and examples of canonized Saints of the Church can help us along our way.
How can you follow the example of the saints in your own life? Watch this video, learn more about Catholic Saints here at Busted Halo, and be open to what the saints can teach you about your spiritual journey today.
Easter is more than one day — it’s an entire season of the Church year that begins with the Easter Octave. The gospel readings during the Octave include some of the most beautiful passages of scripture from the time after Jesus’ resurrection and his first encounters with his friends and disciples. These readings remind us of the importance of Jesus’ resurrection and the power of his ministry here on earth. Jesus appeared to his friends & disciples that they might continue to share the Good News in word and deed with everyone they would meet.
To view a single day’s animation just click on that day’s image.
Looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day this year? Try Busted Halo’s® Virtual Earth Day Retreat and spend some time reflecting on the spiritual meaning of creation in our lives. Download the retreat (if you print it — print on both sides of the paper!) by clicking the image below. Take a few minutes out of your day — at your desk, on your lunch break, between classes — and grow an even deeper appreciation for all God’s creation. Happy Earth Day!
“Coin Stack 1” image by Stephen Train licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 2.0” https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrtea/“But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every garden herb, and disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Luke 11:42)
When some Christians talk about biblical principles in government, they tend to mean something very specific: small government, pro-life, anti-gay marriage, low taxes, government that respects the Christian heritage of the United States and a national law based upon the Bible are the main tenets. Freedom and liberty are considered by many in the American Christian community to be the backbone of the United States. Indeed, these are vital to any free society, but are they as vital to the church? Surely it was “for freedom that Christ set us free” (Galatians 5:1) and “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17), but does this mean that in the hierarchy of Christian virtues, freedom should be at the top? To ask it more simply, did Christ die just to give us freedom and, if He did, what did He intend that freedom to produce in us?
It is always far too easy to see the pockmarks on the face of the American church. The media surely does not support the church, nor do politicians on either side of the aisle. For every conservative expounding on the purpose of prayer in schools, there is another arrested for propositioning an undercover police officer for sex. For every liberal who calls on Christians to be charitable with their wealth, there is another attempting to scrub the Ten Commandments from our nation’s monuments. Believers, though, must ask what Christ’s heart is when it comes to freedom, because the loudest voices in the American church today champion the cause of freedom but are forgetting other virtues, some of which …
St. Mary Magdalene depicted (l to r) in a stained-glass window in Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, in a sketch by Leonardo de Vinci, and in a sculpture from the Church of San Miguel in Valladolid, Spain. (CNS photos/Gregory L. Tracy, Pilot; Alinari, courtesy Art Resource; Nancy Wiechec)
She was not the prostitute that you read about in Luke 7:36-50. Her story begins in Luke 8:1-3, which says, “Soon afterwards Jesus went through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Jesus, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities. Mary, called Magdalene from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna … and Susanna, and many others … who provided for them out of their resources.”
She also is not to be confused with the unknown woman who washed and anointed Jesus’ feet, nor was she Jesus’ wife, although some modern novels would have us believe this. There is simply no evidence for this in the Gospels. But keep in mind that she is the only woman in the New Testament to be called by her full name — Mary Magdalene. All other women are referred to simply by their first names. And this is the first clue that she is a woman of immense importance to the early church as well as to Jesus and his mission.
This is a woman who — once her demons had been exorcised — followed Jesus to the very end of his life: she gave of her resources to him and the mission of spreading the Gospel; she accompanied Jesus on many of his journeys in first-century Palestine; and she is a model of what a …
Busted Halo has created a series of virtual stations designed for personal devotion. These stations relate to Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of God and the reason his vision of this Kingdom led to his death. Find a quiet place to watch these stations, and as you do the devotions be open to how God is speaking to you through the Stations of the Cross.
A scene from “Good Friday Stations of the Nonviolent Cross” in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Michael Wisniewski)
On Good Friday, Jesus not only reveals that he is our Savior, but also, more subtly, that he is our Teacher. During his Passion, was he quietly teaching us not to mourn his death specifically, but rather asking us to mourn human suffering in general? Is there even a way to contextualize Christ’s Passion in the 21st century?
Many Catholic Worker communities try to do just that. By designing their own living Stations of the Cross, they attempt to tie Jesus’ Passion intimately to those who suffer in their own neighborhoods, towns and cities, as well as in far-off places in the world.
I’ve participated in the Los Angeles Catholic Worker “Good Friday Stations of the Nonviolent Cross” (which Martin Sheen dutifully attends every year), and the experience is profound. A large group gathers in downtown Los Angeles, processing to the various “stations,” singing and praying and helping each other carry a large, heavy wooden cross through the busy sidewalks and streets.
Some of the “modern” stations of Jesus’ Passion include the U.S. Federal Courthouse, the U.S. Immigration Court, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Los Angeles City Hall, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center, the Emergency Response Call Center, the Police Administration Building and Skid Row, a .4 square mile area of downtown where 8,000 to 11,000 homeless folks are concentrated.
Walking the Catholic Worker Stations of the Cross, one can’t help but think of Jesus in the Upper Room, aware of his impending death, trying to sum up his teachings to his beloved disciples, one final time. He gives them a single commandment to follow, as if speaking to a group of children at the end of the school year: If you don’t remember anything else I’ve taught you, remember this one thing …
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same …
“Signs of Spring (Cleaning!)” image by konarheim licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 2.0” https://www.flickr.com/photos/konarheim/A long winter is fading into the calendar. Sunlight seems more content to lounge around past dinner and may even reach through the early spring chill and kiss our skin with bits of red if we lean its way.
The world draws us closer together as it warms. The cold and darkness that made us slowly withdraw from one another begins to disappear as birds sing, trees sprout colors, and neighbors who’ve ducked into cars to escape the cold linger once again to catch up and chat across driveways and busy sidewalks.
Winter can make us strangers.
I entered this season of Lent feeling the weight of a winter season in my spiritual life. I have felt a bit like God was my neighbor waving quickly and ducking into his front door across the street to escape the snow and ice the past few months.
With new light of the Easter season fast approaching, I was hopeful my spiritual life, like all of nature around me, might break out of its lethargy.
I stood at the edge of my driveway talking with my neighbor and happened to glance back toward my house. Extended daylight had snuck to the edges of my garage and exposed it before the world as a noticeable wreck with tools and boxes and dirt cluttering the floor. Twilight stood at the hedges near our front porch illuminating the flower beds littered with dead leaves and winter’s grunge covering the path to our front door.
My garage was a disaster and our front porch didn’t look too inviting either. The new gleams of light accentuated the need for a little cleaning … and spring cleaning takes some commitment.
I set aside time to go to work. First, I cleared clutter from the garage, ran boxes of unnecessary items to Goodwill, organized shelves, and swept floors. Then it was time to …
A scene from Holy Thursday at Corpus Christi Church in Piedmont, California. (CNS photo/Greg Tarczynski)Every night, before I go to sleep, I open up my Q&A a Day Book and answer the daily question. Q&A a Day is a trendy five-year journal that prompts the writer to record one line each day, and has 365 questions that you answer annually. They range from “What did you have for breakfast today?” to “Are you the original or the remix?” I like musing over the memories of where I was a year ago, and cultivating curiosity over the empty space of next year. After writing my answer for March 27, I peeked to the next page for March 28. The question of the day was, “What did you remember most about today?” It just so happens that March 28 last year was Holy Thursday. I knew this because my scribble revealed my answer, “The feet washing.”
Last year at this time, I was working in New York City and living in New Jersey. I was serving a church very close to where I lived, and it brought a new meaning to what I considered a “home parish.” Besides the close proximity to my home (directly next door), I ended up helping out in the office in the evenings. When Hurricane Sandy hit, my roommates and I really dove in with damage control, helping the parish to shelter those who lost their homes. It was the most exhausting and humbling thing I’d done with a team of people at a church. That sort of thing bonds you to a place.
A few months later, Lent was upon us, and the church was on the lookout for extra bodies for the ritual of the foot washing on Holy Thursday. This is the act of washing each other’s feet as a sign of service and humility, just as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples before his crucifixion. I had …
It is easy to share the personal highlight reel of my life, but I will stutter if you ask me the last time I truly felt vulnerable. I enjoy being independent and do not ask for help from others unless I am put in a tough spot. The first time I purchased a car on my own my parents offered financial assistance, but instead of accepting their offer, I picked up extra jobs to save up. When I was in college, I paid for my own tuition with scholarships and by working part-time. Like many young adults, I take pride in my independence and find it jarring to be put in a position where I have to ask for help.
That all changed when I was in a car accident this winter. The wheels that carried me to work and social outings and on road trips were no more. And, mind you, I live in the Midwest where 10˚ feels good on a brisk January morning. Not having a car meant that getting to work would take the careful negotiating of transit schedules, and sometimes it meant calling up a co-worker to get a ride. I was used to offering rides, not asking for them.
I gave up some personal freedom and in exchange was truly forced to reach out and connect with others on a level that exposed my vulnerability — asking for help. I realized that in many instances post-accident, I had to be bold in my requests from friends and strangers. The Sunday following my car accident, I approached a neighbor who also attended my parish and asked for a ride. I peeled back the layers of vulnerability, outwardly admitting that I needed help from her.
Depending on others and asking strangers and loved ones to help enabled me to share more genuinely what my needs and struggles were. No longer was I the one who would walk around saying, “Oh, I’m doing fine.”
During the week, I was walking to work on freezing winter mornings. One day …
Christian pilgrims carry palm branches during the Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)
When I returned to the Church in my late twenties, one of the things that became very important to me was fully investing in the liturgical year. As a child, any day at church was just the same as another, and though Christmas and Easter had extra trappings, my adolescent apathy didn’t allow for much conviction or interior renewal. So, when I came back I wanted to learn, appreciate and enjoy all the unique aspects of living life according to the liturgical calendar. And there was no time where that commitment to commitment became as significant as during Holy Week.
Holy Week is the apex of our liturgical year. The entire week is one of continued heightening, building and expanding of our faith in and love for Christ, culminating with the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter. There’s so much to do during the week, and the ups and downs of the scriptural events throughout can seem rather chaotic. I’ll admit my first few Holy Weeks upon my return to Catholicism had me feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, because I wanted to have the full-on, no holds barred Holy Week experience. Instead, I wound up finding myself burnt out and exhausted by the time Easter came around. This is a rather common experience amongst the faithful, so I offer some gentle guidance and things to focus on during the week in order to make for a rich and rejuvenating encounter with God.
To make things simpler, it might help to look at Holy Week as a journey, one that moves from the interior to the exterior. We begin in an interior space on Palm Sunday — the traditional start of Holy Week — allowing ourselves the opportunity for both anticipation and reflection. In the account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, read during the blessing of the palms at the beginning …
Whenever I move to a city, something big seems to happen. When I moved to St. Louis in 2006, the Cardinals won the World Series. When I moved to Chicago, President Obama was elected in 2008 and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. And when I moved to Boston last year, the Red Sox won the World Series. Each of these events united the city I lived in, and I spent much time partying in the streets, as they say.
However, in April 2013, I experienced something that united a city, yet was a tragedy. Not only a tragedy for Boston, but for the entire nation.
The day of the Boston Marathon bombings began as a beautiful day. The sun was shining, and you couldn’t imagine better weather for a marathon. The entire city shut down, and I was eager to join the festivities in the streets. I was also there to watch a good friend and Jesuit run. Seeing him run through the street in Kenmore Square, I couldn’t have been prouder. He was just over a mile away from the finish line.
I had never been to a marathon finish line, but that day, I decided I should go. I was supposed to meet my friend around there, anyway, and who wouldn’t want to see the excitement at the end of a race well run. I made my way down near Copley Square, and soaked in the excitement. I snapped a few pictures, even ones near the rows of international flags, which would become tragically iconic in the hours to come.
I never thought, as a resident assistant at Boston University where I attend graduate school, that I would have to use the emergency procedures that we were taught in training. I never thought I’d be handed a roster of my residents and asked to report back on whether or not each person was alive and accounted for.
I met my friend at the end of his run, met his parents, and celebrated his great achievement. Afterward, I wanted to go to …
When I heard that Fred Phelps was gravely ill, my immediate visceral reaction was sinful in the extreme. My immediate visceral reaction was: good.
I am not proud of this.
If you don’t know, Fred Phelps was the founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, known for its protests of military funerals and its virulent homophobia. Church members, mostly Phelps’ own relatives, celebrated the deaths of American soldiers as acts of divine retribution. They touted signs proclaiming “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for 9/11.” The WBC has made hateful statements about not only homosexuals, but Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and various Protestant denominations.
So it isn’t surprising that Phelps’ death has triggered some self-righteousness — even glee. In what’s probably one of the most brazen examples, a band chose to commemorate the occasion with “Good riddance” T-shirts. More common, I imagine, are reactions like my own — quiet stabs of schadenfreude.
Let’s be clear about who Phelps was and what he represented. He was a disturbed and evil man who made it his business to spread misery, who did not deserve the attention his toxic spewings attracted for him.
In a perfect world, I suppose, no one would know about the WBC. We would all collectively ignore them. Since, for better or for worse, we haven’t done that (and maybe it’s just as well; it would be a shame if Phelps’ victims interpreted our silence as indifference to their suffering) we have a delicate balance to strike. Part of loving a person is not allowing that person to persist in sin unchallenged. We have to be clear that hatred is unacceptable. We also have to love and respect Phelps and his ilk as human beings created in the image and likeness of God, however warped by anger or ignorance. To that end, immediately following Phelps’ death, counter-protestors arrived at a WBC protest with signs reading, “Sorry for your loss.”
I guess it’s natural to hate the hateful. Even as …
Want to know why Catholics wave palms on Palm Sunday; wash each other’s feet on Holy Thursday; or kiss the cross on Good Friday? Look no further than Busted Halo’s® two-minute video that describes the final week of Lent we spend preparing for Easter.
A few years ago, I was rushing to catch the Staten Island Ferry. Missing the ferry could mean a 30- or 60-minute wait for the next one. I had minutes until the next departure. Nothing else was on my mind.
A man stood at the top of the stairs asking for money. I had seen him several times before. But wouldn’t you know it, of all times, this was the moment that he approached me. My response? “I don’t have any money on me, but I will pray for you.” Little did I know that this was the beginning of one of those unforgettable moments when God breaks through the hustle of everyday life.
“You will?” he asked me.
“Yes, I will,” I responded while at the same time the tension in me was mounting because I HAD TO CATCH THE FERRY.
“Will you pray for me right now?”
Something in his voice made me realize how important my offer was to him.
“Yes,” I responded. “What would you like me to pray for?”
“I want to hear God’s voice.”
“I want to hear God’s voice.” Doesn’t that capture the longing present in each one of our hearts? The reality is that God does speak, but that we have a hard time hearing. God says as much in Deuteronomy: “Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.” Deuteronomy 30:11-14
CRS Rice Bowl. You might read those words, click on the link, and think that you’re headed toward a tasty recipe on Pinterest. Or a trendy new restaurant. No, not quite.
CRS stands for Catholic Relief Services, an international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. CRS Rice Bowl is a way to dedicate Lenten prayer, fasting and almsgiving to help those in need. A CRS Rice Bowl is actually a small cardboard box (rice bowl) where you collect your gifts. Through giving, daily reflections, weekly prayers, meatless recipes, a mobile app and stories of hope from around the world, CRS Rice Bowl engages people — body, mind and soul — in Lenten sacrifice.
This year, CRS Rice Bowl has invited college students to reflect on their Lenten journeys in short videos. A new video is being posted every day of Lent. You can take a look at all of the videos here.
Below are some of the videos and written reflections from the young adults about Lent. See how their spiritual practices are bringing them closer to God and creating a greater awareness of the needs of others.
It’s not too late to use CRS Rice Bowl as part of your Lenten practice! Go to the CRS Rice Bowl website for details.
Breaking a habit
“I have learned that Lent is about conversion rather than just giving something up. Lent is about rejecting our desires and becoming closer to God just as Jesus does when he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness.
“I chose to give up biting my nails for Lent: A habit I have attempted to break many times in my life but have failed each time. It may be silly, but biting my nails is an unhealthy way for me to deal with my stress. Instead of praying, reflection or reading the Bible, I zone out and bite my nails. I bite my nails when I am bored, I bite my nails when I …
It’s April already and though the first day of the month is a time for practical jokes, things get a little more solemn later on as we head into Holy Week. Also, spring is finally here and if you’re looking for a good way to celebrate Earth Day on the 22nd, look no further than the Busted Halo® Virtual Retreat.
The news straight from the Vatican earlier this morning is that Busted Halo’s® own Fr. Steven Bell, CSP, has been named a Roman Catholic cardinal. While it’s rare in modern times for a priest who is not a bishop to become a cardinal, it’s not unheard of. Asked how he felt about this great honor, newly named Steven Cardinal Bell exclaimed, “Amen!”