Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
February 17th, 2013
The results are in!

You sent us your ash photos and you voted for your favorites!

So, after 112 photos and hundreds of votes, without further ado, check out the winning 2013 Best Ash, as voted by you, and a slide show of the other prize categories awarded by the editors of Busted Halo.

February 12th, 2013
Three steps for Catholics returning to the Church after being away

I often run into people who, upon finding out that I’m a lay minister in the Catholic Church, inform me that they’ve been away from church for some time. Many aren’t angry with the church (though some are and often have good reason for being so!), rather they’ve simply fallen out of practice. Many tell me that they’d really like to return but they’re “afraid the roof will cave in.” It can be quite anxiety provoking to come back to church. Who knows what kind of feelings this might stir up? The truth is that relief,… not anxiety, is the central emotion that many people feel upon “coming home” to the Catholic Church.
But how does one “come home”? Do you need a formal invitation? Is there a need to announce

February 11th, 2013
A reaction to Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation

My first reaction? I looked at the date to make sure it was not April 1. My second reaction? Good for him.

February 11th, 2013

I set out not long ago in a search of the way of traveling what Jesus calls “real life” or “life to the fullest.” This nomadic expedition toward a life of joy (which I describe in my book Holy Nomad…) led me to my own backyard, where I stumbled onto the divine teaching of an apple tree. As Lent approaches, here in the belly of a lifeless, ashen, Midwestern February, I wish for the world to blossom. The start of the Lenten season is always marked by my anticipation of the world’s slow emergence from hibernation, when the russets of winter lawns yield to lush green blankets of grass, the naked trees sprout their first buds of growth, folks wear brighter smiles and move at a quicker pace.
The apple tree in my backyard

February 6th, 2013

It’s that time of the year again. Most Christians have to face an important decision in their lives — what to “give up” for Lent. Last year I was invited to a Facebook page where people were posting the all-important decision they had made. I was fascinated that the trend hasn’t changed: no sweets and no coffee still are tops. There’s a new “tech” trend: no Internet. I couldn’t help posting on my own Facebook page, “So we’ll have a lot of unsweetened, decaffeinated, and dis-Interneted Christians on the planet again. But will we love each other any more for it?” To which my sister-in-law promptly commented, “No, it will make us grumpier! If the point of Lent was for us to love each other more… it would be 40 days of chocolate, coffee, and alcohol!”

February 4th, 2013

You’ll see a lot of young adults in Church on Ash Wednesday. Let Busted Halo® help you keep them coming back!
As young adults make a turn in their spiritual journey toward your church on Ash Wednesday, download, print, and share this invitation to deepen their relationship with God. We’ve made a color and 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. Busted Halo® is an online ministry. Your parish is the place they can turn to for an in-person… encounter with their faith.
Don’t miss this opportunity for New Evangelization!

January 29th, 2013

One thing that has stuck in my head since I was a child I learned from my mother who was a nurse. She came home from a continuing education class when I was about 12 years old with a tidbit that astounded me then and still astounds me today. The instructor communicated that researchers had discovered the frontal lobe of the brain, responsible for our creativity and imagination, is also activated when we pray.
Since learning that, I have always believed that there must be a profound connection between prayer and creativity. It also makes sense to me since prayer is the doorway to communicating with the Creator — me communicating with God and God communicating with me. One of the connections I have made is that being…

January 9th, 2013

New Year’s resolutions make my liver quiver. Yet each year, I’ve begun with hope and the resolve to point my life in a new direction, armed with ways to do better and be better.
Those intentions usually fall by the wayside by the end of January.
Plans to lose those 10 pounds, save more money, watch less television, and guzzle only a small amount of Sprite each week quickly wane, and I settle comfortably into my old habits from the previous year.
But this year has been different. I completed my master’s of arts degree in a writing program in December. I’ve entered a new phase of life — one that requires I live on a different wavelength than I ever have before.
This rings especially true in regard to my spiritual…

January 8th, 2013

I feel sorry for priests. Every Sunday they are required to get up in front of a crowd and preach, whether they’re good at it or not. This leaves them wide open for criticism — and, believe me, I’ve not only heard plenty of it, I’ve, unfortunately, done my fare share as well.
A common critique is that they don’t talk enough about morality or doctrine. Another is that what they say isn’t relevant, a complaint I can definitely relate to. Personally, I am tremendously irritated when the homily becomes a barrage of negativity against today’s culture. Then there are those homilies that go nowhere. For instance, I can’t remember a single thing from the homily delivered…

January 4th, 2013

When I came into the Catholic Church ten years ago, there were a number of things I was a bit unclear about, including: the Pope, the Council of Trent, when exactly to kneel with everyone else so that I did not stick out like a foolish person with no wit, and — Eucharistic Adoration. Not only did I not know what it was, I could barely say… it.
I remember seeing our priest carrying the monstrance (another baffling thing I could barely say – it’s the special vessel used to carry the Blessed Sacrament) down the aisle, with the end of his sleeve wrapped around its handle like a good housewife holding a hot handle with an oven mitt. What’s with the cloth covering and all?
“Holy,” a friend whispered

January 2nd, 2013

Merry Christmas from Busted Halo®!
A lot of people think Christmas only lasts one day, or worse yet, that December 25 ends the Christmas season. In fact, this date is just the beginning of Christmas in the Church, a season that actually lasts about 3 weeks.
In the tradition of receiving fun gifts, games and surprises on this holiest of days, we present you with Christmasopoly, a fun way to be informed about how long Christmastime really lasts. Use this as you journey through the 8, 12 and 20 days of the season, doing Christmas, all of it, the right way.
Click the image below to view a larger size, and click here for a printable version.

 …

December 31st, 2012

As the viral video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” by Jefferson Bethke, approaches 18 million views, I will add my response into the clutter. I’ve seen pro-life responses. I’ve seen Catholic exceptionalism responses. I’ve seen atheist and non-Christian responses that agree but then have their own conclusions. I am not interested in getting into theological debate, or in driving wedges between people. I want to make a simple point. It’s the same point I often make to friends who say they’re spiritual but not religious. And to some atheist friends right after they’ve explained why they don’t believe in God.
It is this: What you are calling religion…

December 11th, 2012

Waiting is a fact of life. We wait in lines. We wait at stop lights. We wait for babies to be born. We wait, and wait, and wait. Our response is often one of wanting to “get it over with.” From a child’s annoying “Are we there yet?” to impatient drivers cutting off other drivers to get someplace quicker, we seem to have an aversion to waiting.
The flip side to waiting, however, is expectation, anticipation and hope. This is beautifully captured in the Spanish language. The verb esperar means “wait, expect and… hope.” One of the themes of Advent is waiting. It is usually cast in terms of our expectation for a Savior — the pre-Christian expectation of the Jewish people for

December 10th, 2012

We all know that Advent has become a counter-cultural time for patience and waiting, a virtue becoming less and less known to our fast-paced world. I recently ordered an iPad mini but was finding myself with growing impatience since I had to wait two weeks for its delivery. Such things can be testing for us. The holiday season is especially prone to these feelings and reactions.
Here are five steps for practicing true Advent patience using the example of standing in a long checkout line at a busy store: You notice a woman at the front of the line who has been at the cash register for 10 minutes already causing a bit of commotion. You don’t know precisely the cause of the slowdown.

Pause… — You begin to notice

December 6th, 2012

‘Twas the week before Christmas
and all through our home,
were the decor and dressings
of a quaint yuletide tome.
School-made stockings were hung
to the hymns of a choir,
In the radiant glow
of our fireplace…fire!!!…

Horror ensued as I worried how Santa would ever survive his traditional entrance to our home via chimney. Worse still, how would the robot that he was sure to bring going to fare in the soot and heat? Though I’d been told that Santa worked through my family and friends to bring the presents on Christmas morning, I was always convinced that somehow, somewhere, he really did exist. Ironically, Santa proved me right not at Christmas, but at Easter.
The Easter I became Catholic, members of the parish

November 26th, 2012

Although we rarely slow down to consider it, most of the time we live as voyagers moving about solely for the sake of discovering the next temporary provision. Our lives will certainly look a lot like that over the next few weeks as the Christmas shopping frenzy commences. We will scurry about, our fingers freshly stained with Black Friday advertisements, participating in the mad rush for that perfect gift.
I was on my own Yuletide expedition when I happened upon a nativity scene at the local “Stuff Mart” the other day and noticed the bearded travelers sitting before a baby with gifts in hand. The figurines left me meditating about these nomads of the Bible. They’ve been called astronomers, priests, and even…

November 15th, 2012

Recently, I stumbled across something called The Happiness Project. I discovered it as I poked around Heather King’s blog “Shirt of Flame” one day. Heather is a Catholic convert (like me), former “barfly” (unlike me), and a contemplative who is passionate about her faith and writing. Gretchen, the woman who wrote The Happiness Project…, discovered Heather’s blog, was fascinated, and shot some questions to her about happiness.
I began to feel uncomfortable as I read further, muttering things like, “White people’s problems,” and other critical labels. Suddenly I remembered one of Woody Allen’s early films when he is making love to some woman

November 8th, 2012

The liturgical season can often seem out of sync with the rest of popular society. With insane hurricanes and contentious political theater unraveling across the world, it is hard to believe time right now is merely just “ordinary.” Current events aside, pretty much any time after Columbus Day, as the hours grow darker and the air has a certain nip in it — becomes “extended Advent.”  This preparation for the “the coming” or “arrival” of Christmas is heralded by radio stations, marketers and commerce across the country with pomp, fanfare, coupons, propaganda, jingles, jangles, and seasonally appropriate beer and ice cream — Christmas is near, and we just have to leap the hurdles…

November 7th, 2012
November -- A month for remembering those who have gone before us

Since becoming Catholic, I must confess that I look forward to November — the month when we commemorate the dead. It’s a time to remember those who have gone before us and upon whose shoulders we now stand. It is a month when we give thanks for the legacies of our departed wisdom figures and reconcile ourselves to our fallen adversaries. We lament perished innocents, lost victims, and slain heroes who remind us of life’s challenges that we still must face.

October 31st, 2012

Hello, Northeast. How are you?
It’s okay, you don’t have to answer that question. Can we buy you a drink? Let us buy you a drink.
We know. This sucks. And we wish we could tell you the nightmare will be over soon, but the fact is this is going to suck for a long time yet. Even after the waters recede, there’s still the matter of piecing your lives back together. There’s paperwork, lots and lots of paperwork. You’ll have to dig through all of your waterlogged belongings and make wrenching decisions about what’s salvageable, and you’ll have to make those decisions faster than you’d like. Some of you will lose what’s irreplaceable: your children’s baby pictures, your grandmother’s wedding dress.…

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