Busted Halo

Want to get a quick overview of a complicated topic. All we ask is two minutes of your time.

Click this banner to see the entire series.

 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
March 3rd, 2014

Looking for a quick way to explain Ash Wednesday to your friends? Look no further than Busted Halo’s® two-minute video that describes the day which begins the season of Lent, and why Catholics and many Christians receive ashes on their foreheads.

March 1st, 2014
February 28th, 2014

A scene from Ash Wednesday at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary, Indiana. (CNS file photo by Karen Callaway, Northwest Indiana Catholic) A scene from Ash Wednesday at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary, Indiana. (CNS file photo by Karen Callaway, Northwest Indiana Catholic)

We are a few short weeks away from the beginning of Lent — a time when we’ve seen people in their 20s–30s pay particular attention to their spiritual lives. On Ash Wednesday, tens of thousands of young adults who do not regularly attend church will come to receive ashes and take a step toward deepening their faith.

What happens to them the following Sunday? And the weeks after that?

As young adults make a turn in their spiritual journey toward your church on Ash Wednesday, download, print and share this invitation (PDF below) to deepen their relationship with God. We’ve made a color and a black and white version available below for downloading. You can personalize the sheet with your parish information at the bottom and invite people to volunteer to distribute it on Ash Wednesday.

This year, Busted Halo® will feature a wealth of Lenten resources specifically designed to engage, enrich and enlighten young adult spiritual seekers. One of our most popular Lenten offerings is or FAST PRAY GIVE Lenten Calendar (like an Advent calendar — for Lent!). The calendar features daily quotes, along with meaningful and doable daily challenges for fasting, praying and almsgiving. This is just one of the many ways Busted Halo® is working to reach out to people in their 20s–30s — more and more of whom are identifying as “nones” or have no religious affiliation.

Busted Halo® is an online ministry. Your parish is the place they can turn to for an in-person encounter with their faith. We hope you’ll use this invitation as part of your ministry to young adults. If you know someone who works or volunteers in a church, share this invitation with them. We know that many young adults are seeking a spiritual home and don’t …

February 24th, 2014

Photo Credit: CNS file photo/Jon L. Hendricks Photo Credit: CNS file photo/Jon L. Hendricks

There are few years in one’s life that are more exciting (and sometimes more hectic) than an engagement year. After the proposal begins a slew of preparation activities. Book the church, find the reception venue, select your wedding party, decide on wedding attire, choose flowers, select music… “I could never plan a wedding in only a year!” a co-worker once told me. The truth is, a wedding can be planned in a few months if you really have to. All that stuff, while important to making the wedding day memorable, is — in the words of my future father-in-law — “fluff.”

The truly important stuff of a wedding is the growth and preparation of the couple themselves, so that the many years following their few hours of public celebration will be strong and joyful. This means making certain decisions intentionally, long before the wedding day. One of these decisions is selecting a marriage preparation program.

The Catholic Church has a lot to offer when it comes to marriage prep, but as far as I know, no pre-engagement programs. Since marriage prep programs are typically designed to prepare you for the marriage, not discern it, it’s a good idea to go through your own prayer and discernment even before getting engaged. The last thing you want is to put lots of money down on a reception venue — let alone get married — later to discover that your union with Mister or Miss Right was not meant to be.

The priest or deacon presiding at your wedding may recommend a particular program, …

February 13th, 2014

Mass is celebrated in the grotto at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec) Mass is celebrated in the grotto at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)Last fall, needing a break from the regular distractions and hustle of daily life, I jumped on a plane and hightailed it to Paris with a fabulous friend. I was excited about the trip. However, I remembered thinking that I hadn’t been on a religious retreat in more than seven years. I had gone through a lot of transition — multiple cross-country moves, new jobs, earning my graduate degree, and lots of love gained and lost. So, clearly, I was overdue. When I discovered how easy it was to get to Lourdes from Paris, I decided that it would be great to get some QT at a place where the Blessed Mother had been — where she appeared to St. Bernadette and where miracles have officially been recognized by the Catholic Church by praying “ad Jesum per Mariam” (to Jesus through Mary).

Getting to Lourdes from Paris by train was easy. But as a type A extrovert who had never traveled alone, my mind went a mile a minute and I was nervous. Who would I talk to? What would I do? And, what if some crazy person decided to mug me? It was at that moment I realized — I was on a retreat. And, it was time to let go and let God do His work. As soon as I finally did just that, the Blessed Mother provided for me in so many ways — from caring for the silly minutiae that made traveling by myself in a foreign country uncomfortable to the big details that I was discerning. During this time, and even today, I referred to our Blessed Mother as the most awesome micromanager.

When I walked onto the grounds at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, I was struck by how lovely everything …

February 12th, 2014

10commandments-loveOne of my new “guilty pleasures” is grabbing the Magazine section of the Sunday Boston Globe and going straight to “Dinner With Cupid,” which my husband has rechristened, “Dinner with Stupid.”

It is a microcosm of the dating game. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Globe, this feature pairs people (mostly young, mostly straight), matching up their list of attributes and interests in the hopes that they might promote a match of some sort, or at the very least, an enjoyable blind date.

Contestants fill out forms stating what they like to do on a Saturday night, who would play them in a movie, what is their favorite way to spend downtime, and more. The magazine shows pictures of the two people, usually a man and a woman, with their descriptions on the side. Then — and I’m not quite sure how they do this — there is a narrative of the blind date with both parties talking about how comfortable they were, times when the conversation flagged, when it took off, and at what point either of them knew they would want to date again or conversely knew that this blind date would be flushed down the toilet. (They must be running off to the restrooms to take notes on their smartphones.)

How do you know there is no spark there based on perhaps two hours of contact over a dinner in a crowded restaurant at the end of a long work day? What happened to the idea of actually getting to know someone?

What continues to astonish me is how quickly we make judgments about prospective dating partners, and how those judgments are based on fairly shallow things. Some typical examples of comments I’ve seen in “Dinner With Cupid” include: “He didn’t seem interested in me.” “She didn’t get my sense of humor.” “I didn’t like his manners.” “She seemed pretty and well-dressed, but there was no spark there.”

That’s the crushing blow, the decisive comment: There was no spark there; even worse than, “I didn’t like his hair.”

Excuse …

February 10th, 2014

whatareyouafraidof-2Imagine getting a Valentine’s Day card that reads “Happy Valentine’s Day!” (on the front) and “What are you afraid of?” (on the inside).

Yes, I know. That is single-handedly the worst and scariest Valentine’s Day card. Ever.

Though it might seem ironic, I love all the Valentine’s Day hoopla. That’s right: I love going to CVS in the month of February. I love the cheesy gifts, the dozen roses, and the candy hearts. Yes, I’m that person who makes all the plush toys sing in the seasonal aisle. For many years, I found myself agonizing over which Hallmark greeting card to buy in the card aisle: Funny? Sappy? Romantic? Heartfelt?

However, now at age 28, I genuinely wonder if we are really getting anywhere with Hallmark. In my own life and in the lives of friends, I’ve watched relationships begin, grow, deteriorate, end, or work out. So, having witnessed and lived through those experiences, if I had to design a card for Valentine’s Day, it might look like the one described in the introduction.

‘There is no fear in love’
I can’t remember the first time I heard someone say, “Hate is not the opposite of love. Fear is the opposite of love,” but I do remember thinking it is so true. I was recently surprised to find out that the idea has biblical origins. From 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

This Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to ask yourself not only who you love but also what you’re afraid of when it comes to relationships and loving someone more fully.

That was in the Bible? What about 1 Corinthians 13 (Love is patient, love is kind…) — isn’t that the quintessential biblical reading about love? 

It might be among the most popular, but the verse from 1 John might easily be the most underrated.

After observing successful and unsuccessful relationships, I began to take more and more interest …

February 6th, 2014

Evan Lysacek of the United States performs during the men's free skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters) Evan Lysacek of the United States performs during the men’s free skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)This February brings about a very special time in the sports calendar that comes around only once every four years: the Winter Olympics. The coastal resort town of Sochi, Russia, has been selected to play host to the world this winter. There will likely be much fanfare and media attention given to the medalists and other contenders whose prominence transcends their own sport. Over the years, Kristi Yamaguchi, Peekaboo Street, and Shaun White have become names familiar to the U.S. Olympic enthusiast. Additionally, athletes competing in sports particularly popular during the Winter Games have become household names and a part of the pop cultural landscape, sometimes for the drama beyond the sport itself (think: Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding). This year we have already seen Jason Brown rise to quick stardom, and countless Olympic fans have their eyes on the track-star turned bobsledder, LoLo Jones. Figure skaters, skiers, snowboarders, and bobsledders may become worldwide stars … for at least a moment.

But of the hundreds of athletes who receive medals (or at least contend for one), there are thousands of others who remain anonymous, from corners of the globe often forgotten and whose names will likely never be known by the masses. For these athletes and their supporters, the Olympic Games are still momentous and the culmination of lifelong dreams. For many, the real victory is in the journey to the Olympics. Sport has served as a way to cope with life, to focus on one’s talent, and remain on a hopeful journey toward one’s dreams. Here and abroad, athletes put their entire lives on hold for the culmination of a goal … the goal to compete.

Just getting to the Olympics requires a rather special …

February 5th, 2014

learningtowait-6I just read a really terrific short story, and now I feel myself bobbing like a cork toward a deep dark cataract of despair. On the one hand, part of me truly delights in this well-crafted, mysterious piece of prose by a writer of growing renown. At the same time, though, the marvelment I feel is coated in a very thick layer of, not envy exactly, but a sense of comparative professional inadequacy. I stare at the pages in my hands like I’m trying to decipher hieroglyphs, and I ask myself: How did he do that? How did he write something so subtle and memorable and complex? Why can’t I do that? When will I be able to do that? Will I ever?

I say that I’m floating toward a deep dark cataract of despair — deep and dark, yes, but not unfamiliar. I have plunged off of this particular waterfall before, many times throughout my tenure as a graduate student of creative writing. However, even though I feel the currents of self-doubt sweeping me once again toward that bottomless pit of I’m-not-good-enough, I don’t think I’m going to fall off this time. Over the past few years I have learned to trust that if I remain faithful to the slow and toilsome process of becoming a writer, I will — painfully, incrementally — begin to produce the work I dream of making. In short, I have learned how to wait.

Writers know all about waiting. We wait — and wait, and wait — for some editor somewhere to decide that she likes our story or poem or novella well enough to publish it. More importantly, we wait for our literary abilities to catch up with our literary ambitions. When I was in college I asked an instructor for feedback on a short story I’d written. He returned the story to me with this comment written in the margin: “This is the kind of story that makes me want to hang myself with my shoelaces.” After reading that verdict, I laughed for half …

February 4th, 2014

family-dynamics

Question: My boyfriend and I have been together for five years. Within our first year together, and prior to meeting his family, he received a Facebook message from his older brother, stating that I was no good for him, and that I was going to break his heart and leave him wounded. Shortly after that, when I went home with him to meet his family, his brother would not look at me and barely said hello. Ever since then, whenever we have been in the same room or building, his brother completely ignores me … Moreover, when my boyfriend attempts to speak to his parents about the situation, they act as if they have never noticed it and immediately dismiss the problem. What should I do? If we are eventually going to be family, how do I go about dealing with this or approaching him?
Answer: Sounds like you have discovered one of the secrets of marriage: you marry not only the man, but his family. And, he marries yours. When we dream about getting married, we don’t really consider family dynamics. We think a lot about the good, and we tend to polish over the not good. Even when a couple has a lot of similarities, strong relationships are built through negotiating the differences. “Settling down” doesn’t really describe marriage; it’s a lot more like stirring things up.

Something has been stirred up with your boyfriend’s brother. He must have a reason for his initial response to the two of you dating. I’m not saying that his response is accurate, or valid, but we can’t dismiss him as crazy either. If you know why he feels that way toward you, then it needs to be discussed openly with him. If you truly do not know the reason, then this is when you are going to see what your relationship is made of.

This is an opportunity for you to problem-solve with your boyfriend. It’s his role to interface with his brother and be your advocate, while at the

February 3rd, 2014

midwinterblues2Lonely blue jays and cardinals mark the days of midwinter, spreading color sparingly with their fretted flights above browned lawns and bare, grey trees. Even silver-haired snowbirds are growing weary of southern hibernation and long to return to the blooming laughter and hustle of families and children along street corners, park benches and backyard barbecues.

The world moves with stiff joints and shallow breaths through mornings where the step from bed feels like an arctic swim, while our motivation to change seems as stuck as a Prius on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in an ice storm. With many weeks of cold still ahead, we are already growing irritated with wool coats, early evening’s darkness, frosted windshields and the settling reality that our hopes for the New Year have long since faded.

The midwinter blues can get to everyone.

The Polar Eskimos even had a word for this sensation, “perlerorneq,” which is translated by some to mean “feel the weight of life … weariness or a miserable sadness.” If that sounds depressing, then consider that Eskimos probably didn’t practice New Year’s resolutions! Remember those grand decisions about our lives several weeks ago that have fallen flat: to quit drinking, stop obsessing over Facebook, start attending church, break up with a boyfriend, or look for a new job? (Barely 8% of Americans are able to stay true to their New Year’s vows through the first week of the year.) Most of our hopes seem as frozen in winter lethargy as the green space at the park.

Despite the trials of this season, I have learned that the midwinter blues can also enrich our spiritual life if we will allow it to. Here are three ways we can embrace the never-ending winter of 2014:

We endure winter’s long residency precisely because the coming warmth of new life is inevitable. Winter teaches us that spring eventually arrives in its own time and there is nothing we can do about it except walk willingly in the cold and allow it to run its course.

Winter reminds us to embrace the …

January 31st, 2014

February2014-insideb

Brrrrrr! It’s cold this winter, so we’ve chosen an appropriate snow-covered image for this year’s February wallpaper that includes a lot of (weather-related) days to look forward to.

Of course, Sunday is the Big Game day, but it’s also Groundhog Day, when the shadow of a common earth rodent (basically a large squirrel) determines if we’ll have another six weeks of this cold nonsense or not.

Don’t forget about the Feast of St. Blaise on February 3 — if you’re under the weather or have had to miss work (like some of us unfortunately have,) you should be looking forward to this saint’s feast day where you can head to your local Catholic church and receive a special throat blessing.

The feasts of St. Agatha and Our Lady of Lourdes are heading our way in a week or two.

And last, but not least, even though the Church doesn’t officially celebrate the feast of St. Valentine on the 14th, it’s still a pretty special holiday where couples out there can look forward to warming up together.

The wallpaper is available in sizes that will fit both widescreen and full screen monitors, as well as mobile devices. 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:
16:9 · 16:10 · 4:3  · mobile

January 29th, 2014

superbowl-alts2January is drawing to a close, which means football season is as well. For some, this is a bittersweet time, full of Super Bowl fervor followed by a hollowness that cannot be filled until the draft starts up in May (or at least until SportsCenter begins avidly discussing new prospects later in February). But for others, myself included, the Super Bowl is a time of dread. This year, with Super Bowl XLVIII coming to my city, I cannot be less enthusiastic about a bunch of burly men rolling around on some fake grass. And with a snowy polar vortex in full swing, I think we already have enough to worry about without traffic jams, crazed fans, and the “NFL Experience” taking over the New York metropolitan area.

If you’re like me and are trying to avoid the Super Bowl as best you possibly can, look no further — I have compiled a new list of enjoyable alternatives to the Big Game that will guarantee a football-free Sunday, just like any other between March and August.

The First Annual Kitten Bowl 

The Puppy Bowl will be played for its 10th year on Animal Planet, but the Hallmark Channel (my mother’s favorite!) is one-upping it with its first ever Kitten Bowl. Like Puppy Bowl, all the furry little competitors are from rescue shelters and are up for adoption. But unlike Puppy Bowl, they are, obviously, kittens. With celebrity guests like Hoda Kotb and Regis Philbin lined up to make appearances, this event is guaranteed to bring laughs, coos and tons of love to your day. Unless you are doggedly a dog person, or hate football so much you can’t even bear to watch cute kitties bat around a mini pigskin, Kitten Bowl, beginning at noon Super Bowl Sunday, is a perfect warm-up to the rest of your football-avoiding activities.

Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

Inspired by the overload of cuteness from the Kitten Bowl? Take that abundance of love and compassion right over to your local animal shelter! Not only is cuddling

January 27th, 2014

A football signed by the Denver Broncos and presented to Pope Francis. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) A football signed by the Denver Broncos and presented to Pope Francis. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

We often hear of things being super, but how super are they really? Superstorm Sandy was not any fun for people in the Northeast. Superman isn’t even a real human person, only a character of comic and film fiction. And the Super Mario Bros. don’t have anything on me and my two brothers. (Please… we can jump higher and grow better mustaches.) But the Super Bowl? That might actually be worthy of being called “super.”

It’s Super Pop Cultural
Although the Super Bowl is really just a football game, is it so much more than that. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched athletic events on television every year. It carries with it many pop subcultures. Super Bowl commercials are often more watched and talked about than the game itself. Many people literally watch the game for the commercials.

The game has a show-stopping halftime performance. The biggest names in music and entertainment are tapped to entertain millions at one of sports’ largest events. Beyoncé’s performance last year was so monumental that I know some people who referred to the Super Bowl as the football game around the Beyoncé concert. The Super Bowl halftime show can be career-making (or sometimes breaking — have the Black Eyed Peas recovered yet?)

The Super Bowl is a super big deal for the host city — even this year for the New York/New Jersey metro area, despite the fact that it already has every entertainment industry present in full force. When I was in college in San Diego, we hosted the Super Bowl and it was a huge deal in the city. We were all talking about it for a year before it even happened. There’s something special about hosting the country (and the world) through hosting the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Sunday is basically a holiday. Many people call in

January 22nd, 2014

doctors-3When I was diagnosed with pericarditis — an inflammation of the fibrous sac around the heart — while volunteering in Peru, the reaction of a number of people surprised me. Until that point, most of my Peruvian friends had demonstrated no medical proclivity whatsoever. Suddenly, I had no shortage of people anxious to share any tidbit of therapeutic information they could.

“You’re lonely,” said some. “You need a girlfriend. Or more male friends.” While I appreciated their concern that I was living with four female roommates, this theory seemed to fall short in explaining how my heart’s membrane swelled to unhealthy proportions.

“You are so skinny,” offered the cooks at the parish cafeteria where I ate. “You aren’t eating enough.” Again, while I was grateful for the guidance and extra helpings of lunch, this did not really match anything my doctors told me.

“Why aren’t you wearing a jacket?” exclaimed the women selling crafts in the plaza of the Andean town where I lived. “You’re going to get sick again!”

I filed each piece of advice away with all the rest, regularly noting that I should probably confirm with real physicians whether there were any connections between the state of one’s pericardium and the things my friends were saying. I did not, however, think it necessary to bother my cardiologist with every hypothesis. This was particularly true of the suggestion that I was infected by some kind of leech while swimming in South Africa four years ago.

I thought this penchant for over-participating in others’ health lives was an annoying quality of my Peruvian friends. When I returned to the United States for additional care, however, the practice did not cease.

Saying there has been no limit to the number of people who comment on my health is really to say there’s been no limit to the number of people who want to help. I truly believe that often the impulse to assist others and make a valuable contribution wins out over knowing we have little to provide.

Despite never having visited or read much about the …

January 15th, 2014

snowdayWhen I was a teacher, I used to view snow days very differently. Each time school was called off, I’d feel like I was back in my twin-sized bed, under flannel sheets, in my Garfield nightgown, with my mom peeking through my bedroom door to deliver the good news before going to work. Few experiences could transport me back to childhood so quickly in my adult life as having a snow day, even if I was the one, now, in front of a room full of squirrelly students saying, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll have to listen to the news tomorrow morning,” secretly praying for school to be called off and just as excited.

In my years after teaching, I started working another job and began commuting to work. Snow days quickly became not cool. I was an hour shy of my car being stranded on Lakeshore Drive in the infamous Chicago blizzard in February 2011. After I moved out of the Midwest, far from home, and began hopping on and off of planes regularly, I began to resent snow and I dreaded seeing “CANCELLED” at the airport.

It wasn’t until last winter that I reunited with my love for snow days shortly after moving to Boston. Just two years after the Chicago blizzard, Nemo struck Boston, leaving the city completely immobile. It wasn’t just the teachers that enjoyed the storm, though. Once all the snow had died down, I remember calling friends to meet up outside to just “see what’s up.” We weren’t the only ones. Outside, the entire city of Boston was throwing a giant snow party. The historic, hilly streets became instant slopes for skiers, free of admission. Someone built an outdoor living room out of snow in Boston Common. Dogs put on their L.L. Bean jackets and joined their owners outside and tunneled or romped in the snow. I even sat in my first igloo.

Snow is a reminder to take pause, with others or even just with ourselves. The presence of snow can be

January 14th, 2014

free-fallingImagine a moment of complete free fall.

If you have ever experienced that jolt in your gut, that razor chill throughout your body, that overwhelming instant when everything pauses in a moment of pure terror as you let go of the edge … you know what I’m describing. This is the body kicking into survival mode. I feel it when I go cliff-jumping in Muskoka, ride the Drop Zone at Wonderland, and every time I endure a major life transition. Can I reasonably compare a physical free fall to an emotional one? Yes. Yes I can.

Recall a moment of surrender of your own: waiting for that phone call, letting go of a breakup, not knowing if you’ll pass a class, finding out you or a loved one is ill, wondering where your life will go when school is over … These are real human moments we share. Everyone has them.


During these moments of pain and uncertainty, God encourages us to surrender. When we hear “surrender,” we often think of giving up. We may think it’s a synonym for oppression or submission; that suddenly letting go might compromise what we really want. Somehow we let it become more about fear and less about desire. But it’s exactly the opposite. God not only knows the ways of the universe, he also knows the desires of our hearts. And God wants us to trust him with those desires.

Trust — not an easy task

“Submit yourselves therefore to God” (James 4:7). Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Scripture is full of examples of trust, but it’s no easy task.

God says, “Let me bring …

January 13th, 2014

hownottolose30-1Then came The Fall, which is what I like to call what happened when I was 26 and my metabolism turned on me like Benedict Arnold — or Judas Iscariot if you prefer to keep things biblical. I didn’t realize it right away; I never weighed myself and I ignored the pleas of the waistlines of my jeans and khakis, while stuffing myself into them until the buttons inevitably popped off in exasperation; at which point I would just curse shoddy workmanship and dig through my closet for yet another pair of pants whose seams I could stretch to their farthest limits.

It was only after my doctor gingerly informed me that I was clinically overweight that I began to consider the idea that I was … well … clinically overweight. It was around that time that I also began to seriously consider a vocation to religious life, which served as a convenient rationalization for my second helping of pie and fourth handful of trail mix, seeing as how, since I was a vowed celibate and all, what did it matter how big I was, or what I looked like.

But the nightly sleeves of Oreos were always followed by mornings of regret, which were more and more frequently accompanied by stomach problems. I don’t think I ever liked how I ate, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. And so as I entered my 30s, I became a cliché: I became that person who every New Year’s Eve vows that this year will be the year that they drop the pounds. And so I would begin January 1, avoiding solid food and drinking only coffee until approximately 5 p.m., whereupon I would proceed to open the gigantic tin of leftover Christmas cookies at my mother’s house and eat them until I was curled up in a fetal position on her couch, shaking, while Love Actually blasted from the plasma screen.

This dietary model wasn’t particular to New Year’s Day either, any Monday would do, really. Sometimes the format would change a bit …

January 9th, 2014

resolution-rememberI am a little ashamed to tell you that I cannot recall what my New Year’s resolutions were three-hundred-sixty-some days ago. My forgetfulness reminds me of high school, when I had a part in a skit for a New Year’s program that was modeled after Saturday Night Live. My favorite was “Mr. Short-Term Memory.” The original character was played brilliantly by Tom Hanks and written by an up-and-coming comedian named Conan O’Brien. I loved the episode where Tom Hanks went to dinner and kept having moments of exasperation where he would question who put food in front of him or what was just said in the conversation. I’m not sure our high school version lived up.

I took the kids when they were younger to watch Finding Nemo and enjoyed their frustrated laughter at poor Dory. She was the blue fish with short-term memory loss getting everyone in trouble with her forgetfulness.

It will be funny if you don’t recall any of these television or movie moments, and appropriate, because we essentially live our lives of faith the same way.

You might say the Bible is packed with skits like “Mr. Short-Term Memory” and characters like Dory. It is one of the perpetual themes in our story that God’s people fail to remember his faithfulness to them.

It is the nature of God’s people (yes, you and me) to forget over and over and over … and, well … over.

After God miraculously delivers Israel from Egyptian tyranny, it took his people just a month to become restless and dissatisfied. The story explains:

“The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The sons of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” (Exodus 16:2-3)

God’s people forget and want to take things into their own …

January 8th, 2014

healthy-habits-2Lately, New Year’s resolutions have been getting a bad rap. And sure, the ubiquitous weight-loss goal is easy to ridicule, since it always seems to fail.

The essential problem is that New Year’s resolutions are big, dramatic, turning-point goals. But our health is not a matter of big dramatic choices we make. Instead, it’s all about the habits we slide into.

Yet a “new year” still holds so much inherent appeal — the feeling that things can be different, that we can make a fresh start.

You can have the best of both worlds. Why not apply the momentum of the new year to a realistic habit change?

After all, when you find ways to improve your physical well-being, your mental and spiritual well-being will follow. When you’re healthier and better balanced, you have more energy to serve others.

Here are a few healthy, doable ideas — beyond weight loss — for feeling better this year.

Sleep. We know when we feel zonked, and we know how to load up on coffee. These are functions of our modern sleep routine. But if you get to know your sleep cycle better, you’ll be amazed at how much better you can set yourself up to feel.

Try writing down exactly how much you sleep each night, and summing up your outlook in a few words the next day. Then look for patterns. You might find you feel great with six or eight hours, but drag with seven. Plan your bedtime and wake-up calls to match.

When you find ways to improve your physical well-being, your mental and spiritual well-being will follow. When you’re healthier and better balanced, you have more energy to serve others.

Other steps to consider are eliminating the snooze button (the New Yorker recently came out with a great article about why) or trying a sleep device like Lark, an electronic bracelet that gauges your sleep cycle and wakes you up accordingly (Ariana Huffington swears by it).

Balance. Do you get your energy from within yourself, or from the company of others? This year get to know …

powered by the Paulists