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January 3rd, 2009
(1968 - 2008)

Emilie Lemmons, a writer and mother of two (although as she would say “not necessarily in that order”), is someone few people outside of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area probably know. If you read her blog, Lemmondrops, however, you had a window into the daily struggle and heart-wrenching experience of a woman who shuddered at the possibility of dying too young from cancer with two young children in tow.
Before her diagnosis, Lemmons wrote for the Catholic-based paper The Catholic Spirit, of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St Paul. The Spirit…, as it is known in Catholic media circles, is an exceptional Catholic newspaper that really values its journalistic integrity — it doesn’t just do

December 30th, 2008
(1918-2008)

I had a TV in my room from a very early age, giving me control over the cultural influences that entered my world. Using my command of the dial, the most subversive thing I watched in my atheist home might have been a sweet little show that has been loved now for generations: Davey & Goliath.
Son of a Lutheran minister, Dick Sutcliffe started his career as a journalist, but soon found himself working for the church, as assistant editor for The Lutheran magazine, then with the radio division, then television. Sutcliffe, as director of Lutheran radio and television ministry, was one of the first religious officials to realize the potential of television, starting in the late 1950s. When church leaders told him to…

December 29th, 2008
(1918-2008)

Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, who died at 90 on December 12, was the scion of a legendary family (his father, John Foster Dulles, was Secretary of State); one of the most famous American converts to Catholicism (his conversion came after reading philosophy at Harvard and then, memorably, spying a tree in springtime bloom); and widely considered to be the “dean” of Catholic theologians in the United States, respected by both traditionalists and progressives. His Eminence, Avery Cardinal Dulles to the world, however, was to many Jesuits, “Avery,” and he took himself none too seriously, as befits a serious man.
Funny stories abound about the Jesuit, made all the more amusing for the man’s…

December 25th, 2008
December 25, Christmas Day 2008

Return to the Advent calendar.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.…

December 24th, 2008
A mother, a son and grieving at Christmas

I didn’t want my children to know. They were waiting for a baby to be placed in a manger. The doll, the placeholder for our Lord, symbolized all that they had learned about love during Advent.
My toddler daughter was being coddled by a little Polish girl, only a year or so older who told her, “Jesus was once a little baby just like you.”
My son was hanging out around the life-size crèche with the older boys. All of the children were staring with huge lemur-like eyes in that way unique to children on Christmas Eve.
My thoughts were more morose. While we were attending Christmas Eve children’s services, several time zones and an ocean away, my siblings were beside our grandmother’s bed…

December 10th, 2008
Busted Halo speaks with the director of "Soul Searching," a new documentary about monk, writer and peace activist, Thomas Merton

Introduction and interview by Bill McGarvey
It is no surprise that a young seeker—as Morgan Atkinson was back in the mid-1970s—would be interested in the life of Thomas Merton. Merton’s journey from poet, artist and bohemian to poet, writer, artist, activist, mystic monk has all the required elements of adventure, risk and creativity that easily sets fire to the imagination of a young man looking to find his way in the world.
But, unlike so many fascinations that grip young minds for a brief time before being replaced by newer interests, Atkinson’s attraction to Merton’s life remained strong more than three decades after he first discovered the Trappist from Kentucky. After

December 10th, 2008
Forty years after his death, Thomas Merton still causes controversy

Forty years ago today, Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and perhaps the most popular American Catholic writer in history, stepped out of a bathroom shower during a visit to Bangkok. Slipping on the wet floor, he grabbed a poorly wired fan for support and was electrocuted. For many years, Merton had unsuccessfully sought permission from his superiors to travel outside his monastery in Bardstown, Kentucky. A few months after a new abbot was elected in early 1968, he assented to Merton’s request to attend an interfaith conference that December in Thailand. En route he met the Dalai Lama, who called him a “Catholic geshe…,” or spiritual master.
Merton enjoyed paradoxes, and spoke of himself, like

November 16th, 2008
Descended from the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s, The Twelve Tribes strives to restore true Christianity

When Shuvael and Matanah Hebert sold their upscale, four-bedroom home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to join a controversial Christian commune called the The Twelve Tribes, friends and family said they were crazy. But seven years later, the middle-aged couple insists that they have no regrets, despite sharing bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a washing machine with 40 devoted members in a community home in a working-class area of Brunswick, Georgia.
“It’s about surrendering completely to God’s providence,” insists Matanah, 45, who also left behind a well-paying chemist’s job. Matanah, who doesn’t wear makeup, perfume or jewelry because God didn’t…

October 28th, 2008
Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It. by Julia Duin

Last spring, a Pew Forum survey of U.S. religions revealed that American Catholicism is barely treading water, with Latino immigration offsetting the departure of more settled believers from the church. The Religious Landscape Survey of 35,000 Americans set off a storm of finger-pointing within Catholic circles, with many people spouting the conventional wisdom that evangelicals are booming at the expense of Catholic departures.

October 9th, 2008
A personal encounter with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen leaves a young reporter puzzled, inspired and intrigued

I recently learned of the Cause of Canonization of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (the process by which Fulton J. Sheen may become a saint). While I’m not and have never been a Catholic, nor even religious for that matter, I feel compelled to share a deeply personal story involving him that intrigues, puzzles and inspires me to this day.
An Encounter With a King
In 1975, I was an intern reporter for WROC-TV news in Rochester, New York. The Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was a famous priest who wrote numerous books and hosted a television series entitled Life is Worth Living… (still seen today).
He’d also served as the Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester earlier in his career, and was back in town to deliver a noontime

October 8th, 2008
When a beloved family pet passes away, how do we help children face the reality of death?

We found out over the phone, while on vacation. The housesitter called us to tell us that he was at the animal hospital back home with our cat, Smokey. And then he put the vet on the line. We heard about age-related kidney disease, complete renal failure. We learned that medication and intravenous fluids might help keep him alive another month—or maybe just another week.

October 6th, 2008
A Parent, A Child, A Knife—and a Command from God. What Would You Do?

A few years ago during Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday on the Jewish calendar, I was in a little wooden synagogue on the Lower East Side of New York City. The rabbi, a venerable man whose voice carried throughout the temple, was extremely charismatic. For the first time in my temple-going life, I found myself listening intently to the sermon.

September 5th, 2008
Seeking the sacred dimensions of daily life

Faith, spirituality and religion are too often looked upon as the province of “experts” who spend all their time in places of worship. At BustedHalo.com we frequently hear from readers who desperately want to explore their spiritual questions but feel alienated from traditional faith communities. The fact of the matter is that the experience of sacredness is as unique and personal as our fingerprints, but we sometimes fail to recognize these moments as God’s way of speaking to us in our everyday lives.
“Where’s God?” is our attempt to look more imaginatively at the movement of grace in each of our lives and chronicle the countless different ways God is at work.…

July 29th, 2008
In the past decade, hundreds of thousands from around the world have descended on Northern Spain to trek hundreds of miles on the Camino de Santiago. What is it about this 1000-year-old pilgrimage route that attracts them?

The modern-day pilgrim who struggles across Spain to the shrine of the Apostle James faces one more challenge in a church office that gives out an official certificate to those who complete the journey on foot or bicycle. A clerk asks: Was the reason for the trip spiritual?
For many of those who hike or bike the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage trail all the rage during the Middle Ages and catapulting in popularity in recent years, it’s not an easy question. In walking a segment of the route in June and another chunk five years ago, I found that the reasons people had for undertaking the trip were often mixed. In more than a few cases, the spiritual aspect of the long trek grows on them unexpectedly. It did for me, too, even…

July 23rd, 2008
Busted Halo's® Mike Hayes sends along his multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

This morning I traveled to Riverview for a Catechesis (teaching) session along with some young adults from Chicago who are active with Charis Ministries in Chicago—an organization that does retreats for people in their 20s and 30s (BustedHalo Retreats is essentially an affiliate of this organization).  Riverview is the site of a Jesuit High School where the Magis… Experiment is taking place. The Jesuits decided to gather young adults together from their various provinces and to do a type of retreat pilgrimage
the week before World Youth Day.  So my travel partners have been here in Sydney a week longer than I have.  After a brief catechesis I was able to talk with three very
impressive young

July 21st, 2008
Busted Halo's® Mike Hayes sends along his multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

I woke up this morning in my nice cozy hotel room thinking about my companions sleeping out in the dewy cold air at Randwick Racetrack and awaiting the Papal Mass amidst 150,000 young pilgrims. When I left them the place was packed and kissy-faced teens were starting to huddle together, others were breaking out footballs and hackey-sacks.  My only thought at leaving my 10 young adult female friends out there amongst the teens was simply: Better them than me.
However, revenge is often sweet indeed. Upon awaking a bit later than I had planned I tried to take a taxi over to the racetrack and was snubbed by all the cabbies.  No cars allowed anywhere near the racetrack.  So I took a subway to the Central Train Station and…

July 20th, 2008
Busted Halo's® Mike Hayes sends along his multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

CNS Photo
This morning the U.S. Bishops celebrated mass outdoors for American Youth at The Domain—a first at World Youth Day. It was a vibrant mass with superb music and great preaching by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago Francis Cardinal George, who is also the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since I’m traveling with Chicagoians I got to meet the Cardinal after mass and gave him a copy of my book, Googling God. He was a very gracious man and spent a good deal of time with the folks from his Archdiocese and engaged almost all of us in conversation. Considering that he’s still recovering from cancer and that his legs aren’t strong to begin with (he had polio as a child)…

July 19th, 2008
Multimedia reports on World Youth Day from Sydney, Australia

An on the spot report to start:

A consistent theme I’m finding among young adults here—and one that’s also been heralded by many members of the clergy here at World Youth Day—is the struggle of being embarrassed of being Catholic.  In secular society, religion is often a taboo subject, relegated to “a private matter” for most people. In other segments of the world, religion is a nuisance, at best, or a complete farce—something that is overly restrictive, or a fantasy that one tells themselves out of comfort. At World Youth Day those pressures simply disappear.
Below are interviews with some young adults who talk very openly about their struggles with being…

January 19th, 2006
John Paul II gave us a moment that we need to remember

When Pope John Paul II’s would-be assasin, Mehmet Ali Agca, was released from a Turkish jail last week after serving almost 25 years behind bars — except for the complete transformation of his hair from jet black to grey—the man who emerged looked strikingly similar to the person who inhabits one of the more enduring images that I hold dear of the late pope. In that scene John Paul is huddled in a corner talking quietly at close range with the man who tried to kill him. It was an extraordinary act of forgiveness that continues to be extremely rare—if not unheard of — on the world stage and one I don’t remember nearly enough in my own life.

After Agca shot John Paul II six times at close range while thousands of pilgrims looked on in St. Peter’s Square, people around the world were shocked. “Who would want to kill a Pope?” was the question on many people’s lips. “He should get the chair,” my mother remarked angrily. And we all agreed.

Breaking the endless cycle

It was an understandable reaction. Think about it, how often do any of us forgive or ask forgiveness for the many comparatively small transgressions in our own lives? How often in our history books, filled with accounts of hatred and violence, do we come across unpredictable acts like this that break the endless cycle of vengeance? Months after his recovery, the Pope’s visit to his attacker in prison was a radical step in a different direction. He looked at his would-be killer in the eye, conversed with him, shook his hand, and even prayed for him!

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