Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
October 25th, 2005
Facts and fantasies about exorcism

With two major studio movies about exorcisms released in the past year (The Exorcist: The Beginning and The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and the re-release of the original version of The Exorcist on DVD it’s safe to say that Hollywood seems to have a bit of a fixation with the Devil lately. The most recent offering, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, had the third highest September opening in history and has grossed 73.9 million dollars at the box office thus far. Because Emily Rose was “based on a true story” its release also inspired a flurry of television specials on the subject of possession. Why is it that this dark, mysterious and unexplainable aspect of belief, particularly of Catholicism seems to strike…

October 14th, 2005
How I stopped dating and started living

Two years ago, at the age of thirty, I decided I was tired of waiting for the right guy to come along and made what some people think is a radical choice. Instead of getting on the fast track and jumping onto the speed dating circuit like many of my friends, I did the complete opposite. I made a conscious decision to stop dating. Call me crazy but for the first time, I realized that being single is more than just waiting to get married.
When I finally came to this decision, I didn’t really see it as “giving up dating” as much as I was giving myself over to the things I’m most passionate about in life. It’s a commitment to live my single years with purpose and intentionality.
Long term and Long Distance…

October 4th, 2005
Though its influence among Christians in the West may be waning, the sacred art of fasting is flourishing in the rest of the world.

This October all adult and physically capable Muslims abstain from food, water and sexual relations from dawn to sunset during the lunar month of Ramadan (October 5 to November 3). Approximately one billion Muslims around the globe will be joined in their fast by about 14 million Jews worldwide on Yom Kippur (Oct 12, 13), the Day of Atonement, the single holiest day in the Jewish year. And in mid-November, Eastern Orthodox Christians throughout the world will begin their forty-day vegetarian Advent fast in preparation for the feast of the Nativity.

In every culture and religion in history, fasting has been an instinctive and essential language in our communicating with the Divine. As a religious act it increases…

September 27th, 2005
BustedHalo talks once again with "Fr. Gerard Thomas"

This past February BustedHalo published an extended interview with Fr. Gerard Thomas, a celibate, gay priest who–using an assumed name for fear of reprisal–spoke very candidly about the presence of gay men in the priesthood, the pedophilia scandal and the rumors of a Vatican document that would bar homosexuals from becoming priests.
Recently there has been much talk in the mainstream press that the Vatican document will be released in the very near future, sparking a great deal of controversy among Catholics. On the heels of this news BustedHalo once again spoke to Fr. Thomas about the issue of gay men in the priesthood and seminaries and why he believes that the Vatican’s changes will prove…

September 21st, 2005
The poor serving the poor in Nicaragua

I set off on my recent mission trip to Nicaragua with every intention of spending a week in service to poor orphans and with the hope that the encounter would deepen my relatively limited, first-world perspective on poverty. My perspective was indeed startlingly altered by my time there but in a way that was completely unexpected. My wife and I had gone to help out at Hogar Belen, a home for abandoned and disabled children, and found ourselves instead assisiting the orphanage in their outreach to those even less fortunate than themselves.
An orphanage helping the poor…? I thought the orphans were the poor.
Twice a month the staff of Hogar Belen, heads to the city dump to hand out food. The orphanage itself is…

September 20th, 2005

Most of us can identify certain teachers or mentors who have had
a profound impact on our lives. The same can be said for particular books that have shaped our view of the world. With that in mind, BustedHalo asks the question:
“What books have helped you on your spiritual journey?”
1) Augustine, The Confessions
No sense pussyfooting about it … this remains the template for the serious Catholic seeker, exposing the struggles of a quintessentially human soul
sometimes pompous, sometimes scrupulous, sometimes hiding behind irony or humor, but always searching. Everytime I’m tempted to think there’s something noble or original about my quest, I flip back through Augustine in…

September 15th, 2005
My city will come back and so will I.

The City of New Orleans began as a small settlement one hundred years before the first shots were fired against the British, when New York was New Amsterdam, and in the same century Shakespeare wrote Hamlet and Macbeth. The city has thrived despite plagues, fires, riots, flooding, secession, siege, occupation, segregation, integration, and a strong reputation for corruption and sin.
People have always asked me why I would live in such a backwards place—why I would brave the worst heat, highest crime, and poorest population in the United States. I can’t explain it to outsiders. But when Hurricane Katrina tore apart my life on August 29, I lost more than my belongings and a promising semester of law…

September 14th, 2005
Laughing in the Dark

The following is a reflection written by Sheila Provencher, 32, who lives and works in Baghdad, Iraq, with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). CPT is an ecumenical organization that works with local people in areas of violence (including the West Bank, Colombia and Iraq) to seek nonviolent solutions to situations of injustice and oppression. Sheila, who holds degrees from Harvard and Notre Dame, joined CPT in Baghdad in December, 2003.
BustedHalo.com will feature Sheila’s occasional reflections on daily life in Iraq, the Iraqi people and the challenges they face during the American occupation.

Jokes can reveal a lot. I suspect they can reveal more about a situation than can many scholarly articles,…

September 11th, 2005
"Pay It Forward"

Kim Statkevicus had it all. A successful, loving husband, a great house in the suburbs, a 13 month old son and another child on the way—the picture perfect American dream. But on September 11, 2001 Kim’s husband, Derek was among the many killed in the World Trade Center. As she began to mourn the loss of her husband complete strangers came rushing to her aid. “Derek died in a very public way,” she said in a recent phone interview, “so the outpouring of support for me was immense. Because I was pregnant I received so much stuff, and it just kept on coming in. While I was very grateful, I also wondered what I was going to do with [all of it], much of which I didn’t need.”

Kim (pictured…

August 1st, 2005
Alice von Hildebrand and an insightful brand of feminist spirituality

Before the Vagina Monologues even opened on my Catholic college campus last year, the campus had been buzzing with concern. Fordham University pulled funding because some of the monologues were not in keeping with church teaching, and the students were upset because they felt their freedom of speech was being infringed upon. A group of young seminarians and one female student even protested the play during its run.
As both a Catholic woman and a student at Fordham, I supported the Vagina Monologues because of the strength many women have drawn from it. Though I was hurt by the protesters’ apparent lack of concern for the image of the Church they were projecting, their actions did, however, raise an important…

August 1st, 2005
A Paulist Novice’s Excellent Adventure

Ever since I was young I wanted
to
be an actor. My love for movies has always been a big part of my life and the hundreds of DVDs and videos I’ve amassed in my personal collection over the years is just a clue to how big a cinephile I am. This passion led me to study acting in college and then at a conservatory for two additional years before I finally hit the Cincinnati pavement looking for work.

In addition to my growing fascination with movies, I was also a church rat as a kid. Serving mass as an altar boy left a big impression upon me and I often wondered if I could be a priest. I would fantasize about what being a priest would be like, but most of the time I didn’t think I had anything to teach people about being holy. Better…

June 8th, 2005
A Basic Guide to Catholic Dogma, Doctrine and Teaching

After the death of John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict the XVI, print and broadcast media pundits regularly bandied about phrases like “defender of church doctrine” and “watchdog of church teaching.” After a few days of taking in the breaking news, the differences between terms like “dogma” and “doctrine” and “teaching” seemed to blur. Parsing the distinctions between the terms can be tricky. In addition, there is no existing definitive list of all the Catholic dogmas, doctrines, teachings and practices. But it’s still worth taking a closer look at the way we define what provides the backbone of the Catholic faith, articulated…

June 2nd, 2005
Moving beyond simplistic assumptions First in a Three-Part Series

Last Wednesday, Paul Wolfowitz, a former Bush Administration official who was one of the chief architects of the Iraq war, assumed the Presidency of the World Bank. In his opening address to his staff and the press, Wolfowitz singled out the continent of Africa to be the central focus of his work at the Bank, expressing his wish to transform it “from a continent of despair, to a continent of hope.”
Given his political background and the malevolent effect many feel the World Bank and its sister institution the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have had in the developing world, there are many doubts about whether Wolfowitz will be able to engineer such a transformation. One thing is certain though; the…

June 1st, 2005
The garden isn't the only area of my life that needs constant attention

A little over a year and a half ago my husband and I moved into our first house. As I walked around the wintry backyard, with its tired shrubs and empty flowerbeds, I planned my dream garden. Where there were weeds, there would be flowers; where there was bare fence, a jasmine trellis. I didn’t know much about gardening, but I did know what I liked.
When spring arrived, I enlisted the help of my mother and got to
work. Many weeks later, the garden was transformed; flowers bloomed brightly and vines were poised to climb up the new trellis. Secure in the triumph of my green thumb I hung up my gardening gloves, ready to relax and enjoy my new backyard.
In reality, though, my work was only beginning.
It’s amazing how…

May 17th, 2005
Finding God through rewinding

For years my mother has been dealing with a host of medical problems. Since I was 9 years old, I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t sick. Often I’ve sat by her hospital bedside comforting her while I was falling apart inside. When the depression that accompanies pain and illness enveloped her, my father and sister would grow increasingly depressed as well. As a teenager and throughout my young adulthood, I have usually been the one who has talked my family off of the proverbial ledge.
But in helping to guide my family through their dark moments I have sometimes felt that—though both my mother and father are still alive—I have lost my parents. I have become the grown-up now, the parent of my…

May 13th, 2005
The Vatican vs. Fr. Reese and The Questioning Jesuits

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. MT 14: 28-32
When I feel myself beginning to sink under the weight of disturbing news like the recent removal of America… magazine’s editor, Fr. Tom Reese, the faith of the ex-fisherman from Capharnaum who became a “fisher

May 10th, 2005
Fact, fiction and fantasy regarding Mary Magdalene

The Da Vinci Code purports to tell us a lot of things about various subjects: Renaissance art, the ministry of Jesus, the Emperor Constantine and geography of Paris, among others.
It is, of course, wrong about most of these things, as it is deeply wrong about one of the figures central to the novel’s plot: Mary Magdalene.
Novel Assertions
According to The Da Vinci Code, Mary Magdalene was:
-the consort of Jesus,
-his chosen successor,
-the mother of his child,
-the real Holy Grail (because she literally carries the “blood” of Jesus within her in the form of that child),
-an embodiment of the “sacred feminine” and
-a goddess of some sort.
Further, the novel asserts that Christianity…

May 3rd, 2005
Epiphanies in an Auto Repair Shop

An auto repair shop is an unlikely place to have a profound moment, yet I’ve had two. And with the same person. Is God trying to tell me something? The first time was because of a flat tire. Alex, the shop manager, had a brusque attitude that rubbed me the wrong way and I was preparing to respond to his attitude with a smart remark. Then somehow the subject of church came up. And with the conversation that ensued, I discovered that underneath his curt exterior Alex was a pretty neat guy.
Fast forward one year
I recently went back in the same auto shop to get an oil change. Standing in front of the counter to pay my bill, I recognized Alex. However, he apparently had no memory of our talk because I saw not a flicker of recognition.…

April 27th, 2005
Reconstruction and Debt in Iraq

The following is a reflection written by Sheila Provencher, 32, who lives and works in Baghdad, Iraq, with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). CPT is an ecumenical organization that works with local people in areas of violence (including the West Bank, Colombia and Iraq) to seek nonviolent solutions to situations of injustice and oppression. Sheila, who holds degrees from Harvard and Notre Dame, joined CPT in Baghdad in December, 2003. She is showm at left wearing a red cap.
BustedHalo.com will feature Sheila’s occasional reflections on daily life in Iraq, the Iraqi people and the challenges they face during the American occupation.

I have been in Iraq now about a year and a half. When I arrived in Baghdad…

April 19th, 2005
Coming to terms with Benedict's papacy

As the Papal conclave closed, fear crept into my heart. “Anybody but Ratzinger,” I prayed. Moments before the announcement of who was to succeed Pope John Paul II I even said to myself, “If it’s Ratzinger, I’m becoming an Episcopalian.” After my fears were confirmed, I cringed as the white-haired German whom many liberal Catholics have come to despise emerged on the balcony at St. Peter’s.
In his former job, as the head of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, the Cardinal Ratzinger was tenacious. He abhorred relativism, silenced liberal theologians, and published a document called Dominus Iesus, that stated that religions other than Catholicism…

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