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April 25th, 2013

The Christian narrative is, to borrow the cliché, a matter of life and death.
I do not mean this in a Bible-thumping, accept-Jesus’-death-to-save-your-soul-and-find-life sense. Rather, I am talking about the possibility of the most gruesome, violent of deaths giving way to the most dramatic and powerful of new lives.
A few weeks ago, my Jesuit Volunteer community shared dinner with a group of Sacred Heart nuns. Before the meal, a Spanish woman living with the nuns and discerning a call to religious life led us in a series of activities reflecting on resurrection. In one instance, she pointed out that Jesus’ female followers were the first to learn of His resurrection. She suggested that this is because…

April 24th, 2013

Back in 2004, Victoria Ruvolo made national news when an 18-year-old named Ryan hurled a 20-pound frozen turkey at her moving car. It shattered her facial bones, damaged her esophagus, and caused some brain damage. It nearly killed her, but at Ryan’s sentencing Victoria forgave him and asked for a shorter prison sentence.
Here’s her reason:
I went through all the emotions that anyone would have: Why me? What did I do in my life that was so bad that this had to happen to me? Then I realized God is everywhere, and if he is everywhere, then he knew I was in such great physical condition and because of that, God knew I would be able to live through this terrible ordeal. That’s what kept me moving on, to go through my…

April 23rd, 2013

All right, I admit it; there are a ton of things about not being brought up Catholic that clearly put me at risk. Or at least at a disadvantage. Case in point:
I usually do Reconciliation three to four times a year face-to-face with my favorite priest, a man of deep learning, wide experience and compassionate soul. He’s been there for my family in times of joy and times of great pain, and there is nothing I wouldn’t trust this guy with. But given how busy this amazing man is, I just couldn’t ask him to do Reconciliation and spiritual direction with me before Lent this year. So, I emailed the priest at the parish I now attend. And I know he is enormously busy too, as we’ve just lost our parochial vicar.…

April 21st, 2013
A personal retreat for Earth Day in appreciation of creation

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!

April 18th, 2013

When I first heard about Earth Day, I wasn’t on board. It fell on my birthday, and I was suspicious about anything that could potentially cut into my gift-getting. However, during its big push in 1990, I was convinced — even frightened — that if I didn’t do my part in conservation efforts, Mother Earth would be doomed. She looked so sad in those cartoon depictions. I took immediate heed and started to “go green.” I stopped turning on the TV just to have noise in the house. When brushing my teeth, I kept the spigot on low and turned it off when not rinsing. Even as a family, we instituted some environmentally friendly efforts. We reused containers creatively, started recycling,…

April 17th, 2013

When I got home from the office Monday, I did what I do most days: I changed into running clothes and put on my sneakers, readying myself for a few miles to alleviate the daily stress. Of course, Monday wasn’t like any other day.

April 15th, 2013
15 ideas for your tax refund

Is there any day more dreaded than Tax Day? Hopefully you all filed your 2012 taxes by now. Congrats. Take a breath. The stress is over and now you can sit back and relax while you wait for the one good thing about tax season — the refund. There are plenty of things you could do with that cash. Here’s a list of ideas for putting your tax refund to good use. (Oh, and if you ended up paying a tax bill this year, remember — God loves a cheerful giver.)

STOP! You shouldn’t consider this “free money” if you have credit card debt or any kind of loan to pay off. Use this extra dough to take a chunk out of the debt hanging over your head; put it all toward that, and say a prayer of thanksgiving for this…

April 11th, 2013

I was looking at juxtaposition. In front of me, sitting in the middle of a dirt field, was a 7-year-old boy. His clothes were covered in dust, and as the sun baked the sweat on his brow, his mouth grimaced, and his eyes conveyed a pained thirst. He looked up to me, but didn’t hold my gaze, as I know I looked just behind him at a five-star hotel and a water park. It was a mere hundred yards away from where he sat, but a 15-foot concrete wall, a coil of barbed wire, and 60 years of political tension segregated him from it.
This was the summer of 2012, and I was standing in the Dbayeh Christian Palestinian Refugee Camp in Beirut, Lebanon. For most Americans, and most 17-year-old high school students, such an excursion would be atypical.…

April 9th, 2013

Moving twice in my 30s has been difficult and wonderful all at the same time. The two moves resulted in new friends and new hobbies. They also came with fear and apprehension as I began again. Each move was to a different part of the country for the same reason: a fresh start.
The moving itself was quite unsettling and like many who move, the sooner I discovered routine, the smoother the transition would be. I turned to the practice of going to Sunday mass — something that has always grounded me. There was a familiarity in the ritual of mass. Finding a community to worship with regularly became as important as restocking my refrigerator. And both had to be done over and over.
It is like a modern tale of “Goldilocks…

April 8th, 2013

God works in mysterious ways. We all know that. So why should I have been surprised when a memory suddenly inserted itself into my brain today of a thunderstorm roiling the skies over my childhood house, lightning striking the ground, and the rackety sound of rain approaching? The sky turned green, and I plucked at my mother’s hand, “Where’s Nicky? Where is he?” I couldn’t put my worry into words, but I remember the sudden realization that I loved my brother dearly, that I didn’t think I could live without him, and that he needed to get home right now… before I could fret anymore. Thankfully, he scooted into the house a few minutes later, drenched to the skin, and laughing.
If you

April 5th, 2013

You know the feeling — a meeting is held but for some reason you missed the invitation. You find out late about a concert and can’t get tickets. Your friend gets engaged but she never told you about how she and her boyfriend were considering marriage. So from now on you are on high alert, trying to be certain not to miss out on important events. This is FOMO or “Fear of Missing Out.” Especially in the share-it-all world of social media, FOMO is hard to escape. We want to be included and take part, and it’s no fun when we’re not.
A curse?
One of the mascots of FOMO in the Bible is Thomas the Apostle, otherwise known as Doubting Thomas. You might say that he had “the curse of the Blitz.”…

April 3rd, 2013
Wrestling with emotions as a single bridesmaid

Dear Michele,
I’m having a difficult time since two of my good friends got engaged recently. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for them, but I can’t even seem to find a decent date, and it’s hard not to feel some jealousy. I’ve been asked to be in both weddings and a part of me is dreading it. I’m also beginning to wonder if something is wrong with me. Why does it seem like everyone else is moving to the next stage of life and I’m stuck here?
– Always a Bridesmaid
Dear Always,
You are brave for being honest about having conflicting feelings: happiness for the joy your friends are experiencing, and jealousy that you don’t have that same joy for yourself. A lot of people would deny feelings of jealousy because…

April 2nd, 2013

Sunday, Christians around the world celebrated Easter, the commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Sunday night, fans of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead celebrated the third season finale of the AMC TV show about reanimated corpses. Coincidence? We’ll see…
Frequently, it’s joked around the internet that Jesus was the first zombie, even going as far as to re-dub Easter as “Zombie Jesus Day.” Unsurprisingly, the two terms have experienced a surge in popularity every year around Easter since 2006. However, there are a few key differences between Jesus’ resurrection and a zombie’s ascent from the crypt.
Fish and flesh
When you think of a zombie, what’s the first…

March 28th, 2013
A pope of surprises resonates with the Catholic Church

In the weeks leading up to the election of Pope Francis, debates about various papal candidates dominated the press and, if you’re like me, the conversation at home. And whether Catholics consulted with their parish priest or with Paddy Power, it is likely that many had in mind a shortlist of probable popes — and were rooting for a favorite or two.

March 28th, 2013

On March 7, 2008 at approximately three o’clock in the afternoon Theodore Xavier Kim had his first shots … four of them. Now, it should be noted that I love my son’s pediatrician. I’m using the word LOVE here. But when she stuck four very big needles into my very little baby as he screamed and cried so hard that his perfect little inny bellybutton became an outie, I had several thoughts:
#1: The part of my mind hard-wired like that of any self-respecting tigress screamed: “This little 90 pound … witch … is hurting my son. It is incumbent upon me as his mother to hurl her like a javelin into the waiting room, grab my poor half-naked shrieking baby, and run screaming through traffic, half ambulance…

March 27th, 2013

Lent is a time many use as a second chance for those New Year’s resolutions they have already broken. It’s a time for cleansing and making new. This year I wanted to make up for an Advent that was less peaceful and prayerful than I had planned. I had hoped to give more time to reading, praying with the daily Mass readings and reflecting on the year. Unfortunately the busyness of the holidays got the better of me and snatched away that hoped-for time.

March 27th, 2013

As a native Argentinean Catholic, it is difficult to describe my euphoria upon learning that our new pope is from Argentina. As a Jesuit-educated Catholic, I was doubly excited! On the day of the announcement, the junior high students in my classroom eagerly awaited the new pope’s arrival on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square. I smiled at their enthusiasm and glanced hopefully at the poll asking students who our new pope would be, taken less than an hour earlier when white smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel. The majority of my students had voted for Europe or Africa. The lone vote under South America was my own, reflecting my silent prayer for a pope from Latin America, where the majority of the world’s…

March 26th, 2013

Every year Catholics commemorate Jesus’ death and resurrection in worship. On Holy Thursday we remember the Last Supper and the gift Jesus gave to us in the Holy Eucharist. The Good Friday liturgy recalls his arrest, crucifixion and death, and the Vigil and Easter Sunday liturgies celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Personally, we may feel a bit removed from the actual events of Holy Week because we are participating in them liturgically (in worship), and not historically. However, our own personal experiences may help us understand what the people with Jesus were going through as they witnessed these events.
This became very apparent to me a few months ago when my mother died. She had been on a ventilator for…

March 25th, 2013
A Lenten reflection on "Roll Away Your Stone"

I don’t pretend to know what “Roll Away Your Stone” is about. Mumford & Sons, the writers and performers of the song, apparently don’t know what the song is about themselves. But when the tune rolled up on my Pandora station the other day, I found myself jerked out of my half-listening state to sudden alertness by this line: “Stars, hide your fires.” I had reason. I am currently teaching Macbeth to my college freshmen, and this line is lifted straight from Shakespeare’s tragedy.
The line occurs in Act 1, Scene 4, when Macbeth, his ambition roused by a prophecy that he will one day be king, reflects on the obstacles in his path. The Scotsman’s thoughts have already turned toward…

March 24th, 2013
A guide to the three-day celebration of the Church

The Triduum (TRIH-du-um) is the time of the Church year when we celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This three-day celebration begins with the Holy Thursday Mass and continues on Good Friday with the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. At the end of this liturgy, we leave the church in silence, waiting to celebrate the glory of our Lord’s resurrection. Then, on Saturday at sun down, the Church re-gathers to celebrate the final, and most grand, moment of the Triduum: the Resurrection of our Lord.
The Triduum is somewhat like a three-day prayer marathon, and if you are a novice there may be some rituals that are unfamiliar to you. This guide will help you walk and pray through the liturgies…

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