Busted Halo

Matt Weber seeks the sacred and the spiritual in his 20s and beyond.

Click this banner to see the entire series.

March 16th, 2014
St. Patrick depicted in a stained-glass window at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

St. Patrick depicted in a stained-glass window at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

This is not a myth. My story is not legend. In fact, it is a cold hard fact that is backed up with unassailable proof in the form of a YouTube video. What I am about to share may shock you — in fact, some may think this story living proof of the dogged spirit of St. Patrick alive and well in Celtic New England. Before I get ahead of myself and explain exactly what happened, let’s first review our St. Patrick history.

We all know St. Patrick was from Ireland. He was a bishop, carried a staff, and according to many pictures, he wore green. Aside from being a popular Catholic saint across the world, legend has it that he was a talented exterminator. Yes, our beloved bishop banished all snakes from Ireland. According to the legend of Wikipedia, “St. Patrick [chased] them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill.”

Here’s where I come in. As a child of Irish Americans growing up in a largely …

February 11th, 2014

spiritually-unfit-2Who has a Catholic cramp? Maybe a dogmatic double chin? What is the equivalent of spiritual flab? Right now, I am in the midst of some holy heaving, pious panting, and am in great need of a soulful sit-up.

If there were a spiritual Olympics, I am not even sure if I would qualify as an athlete. There is no medal or podium in my near future, as my soul is very much out of shape. (Quick note: to my mother who is almost undoubtedly reading this and now wondering/worried if I have lost my faith or am depressed — the answer is no, but…) I still attend church each Sunday, pray each night before I go to bed — yet I am finding that I’m doing just the bare minimum of “practice” to stay on the team.

It’s been a tough year for me personally and sometimes playing the game and suffering a few crushing defeats makes you just want to sit it out. Or to put it in the context of a spiritualized Winter Olympics: I’ve been riding the two-man luge with Jesus this past year, and we’ve taken some tumbles — several in fact — and I …

September 10th, 2013

back-to-schoolboy-2Writing as a 29-year-old adult with a full-time job, I am pleased to no longer be in school. I’ve put in my time (22 consecutive years of class), played the degree game and am happily out of it unscathed. While there is much I do miss about returning to school, I am comfortably enjoying the fruits of my labor. Tonight, I write in a carefree manner, watching my beloved Red Sox and eating Ruffles potato chips. I have no homework and fear not midterms, finals, or font size on long papers. Until I had that diploma in hand, it seemed like every hour of every day meant something was due to someone and they were going to judge me on it; and those judgments seemed like all that mattered toward happiness at the time.

Additionally, starting college, I was really confused about this new thing called a salad bar. There were too many lettuce options. What is kale? And why am I guilted into low-fat raspberry vinaigrette when a solid ranch option sits idly by? And because everything is weighed, how come I am now valuing croutons over my beloved (yet denser) cucumbers?

Yet as the product …

April 16th, 2013
Turning to prayer after the tragedy at the Boston Marathon

A woman prays at the site of explosions at the Boston Marathon.

A woman prays at the site of explosions at the Boston Marathon.

There is a certain sadness in the air.

The typical euphoria of Patriot’s Day in Boston seemed to have dissolved into the crisp afternoon air and cheers turned into cries and suddenly running 26.2 miles meant everything and nothing. Fifteen years ago I jogged the final five miles of the Boston Marathon with my parish pastor cheering him as he cramped up and supporting him with throngs of well wishers on the sidewalks. Trotting down the home stretch on Boylston Street is collective sensory joy in motion. As a young teenager, it was a thrill to be in downtown Boston on this most special day and a tradition I continued while a student at Boston College and beyond.

Yesterday, I was not at the finish line. I was out sick last week and couldn’t manage to take off the following Monday. So, atypical to a traditional Patriot’s Day, I went to work. More like, I endured work. Sitting in my office restlessly, I was exactly 3.5 miles away from Copley Square; roughly a 30-minute bike ride to a sea of protective silver capes and 27-minutes via the Boston …

April 3rd, 2013

It’s the best time of the year — no, I’m not referring to springtime or Easter Season, but perhaps a time even (blasphemously) better and more anticipated in my opinion: BASEBALL SEASON!

Regardless of Punxsutawney Phil and his fickle foreshadowing, baseball is now upon us and a ripe new schedule of pregnant anticipation is born unto us the faithful fans. Each year, it is a goal of mine to attend at least two to three games. Not just to watch them on TV or check the scores incessantly on the Internet, but actually shelling out anywhere from $15 to $150 a ticket for the privilege to hear the crack of a bat and smell freshly cut turf around a mound of dirt and seeds and spit.

And so, sunshine or drizzle, regardless of where my seat is — and even if the game is a blowout or my hot dog is cold — I am always happy to be at a game for one particular reason. It is a relishing of a moment often experienced with relish. It is an ephemeral action that figuratively burns bright then passes by in the blink of an eye. It is …

March 26th, 2013

god-in-air-imageI was sitting on a train heading to New York City as the sun gently rose on an eager Boston morning. My eyelids were drooping, yawns were frequent, yet I was happy as a clam; reading my book in the quiet car, excited for three and a half hours of peace. A few minutes into the trip, we made our first stop and a nice woman sat next to me. I describe her as “nice” for a few reasons: 1) she smiles and nods as she asks to sit next to me; and 2) she is wearing a hat. I have found in life that a great majority of adult female hat wearers are warm and friendly. So, quite unscientifically, I was pleased to be sharing my morning travels to New York with a smiling patron of haberdasheries.

As I began to crease the binding of my book once again, with few cares in the world, a sharp, fruity and metallic smell entered my immediate atmosphere. It sent chills up my nostrils and began a slow, uninvited descent into my lungs. Whatever it was, it was borderline intolerable, and a smell that could not be unsmelled. My nose took notice …

powered by the Paulists