Busted Halo

Our writers invite you along on their journeys through Lent. Follow the play-by-play of their personal spiritual practices and share your own.

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March 31st, 2014
40 Days Searching for the Sound of Silence

ap-biblePrayer is dynamic and fluid. Like everything, it is always changing, so much so that the words I say today might feel entirely different tomorrow. Though forming habits, common practices and routines can be helpful in developing and deepening one’s prayer life, I have also found it important to introduce new elements into my daily meditations.

My spiritual director recently suggested praying with scripture. I have tried this in the past on a limited basis and without strong feelings as to its success or lack thereof. I decided to give it another go on Friday.

Adding to the “newness” of the experience was the location. Having gotten out of work early, I swung by a small, university chapel instead of my usual prayer spot in my bedroom. I read the daily mass readings, paying attention to any phrases that jumped out at me. “I am the Lord your God; hear my voice” was the Psalm refrain and a clear candidate, as was “[L]ove your neighbor as yourself.” The latter especially called my attention. Several hours before seeing it was that day’s Gospel reading, I had been pondering this commandment.

As I prayed and repeated Christ’s words to myself, I began …

March 9th, 2014
40 Days Searching for the Sound of Silence


The renowned Jesuit priest Father James Martin, S.J. once said, “[T]here’s no best, or only way to pray. Whatever works best for you-imagining yourself with God, quietly meditating on a favorite Scripture passage, or reciting an old prayer that comforts you-is what’s best for you.”

Discovering the “best way” to pray tends to involve finding the right environment for prayer. Inside or outdoors? Alone or with others? Speaking out loud or keeping silent?

The possibilities are infinite. I entered this year’s Lent with the assumption that silent meditation in a quiet room is the best scenario for me to find some degree of inner peace. Perhaps it is better to say this is the type of prayer to which I feel called at this point in my life.

Though we are still only a few days into Lent, I have already found myself forced to adapt these expectations to meet sometimes unforeseen circumstances.

Over the weekend, I made a quick trip to Chicago to visit a friend with whom I volunteered in Peru. I needed to leave my home at 7:30 in the morning to catch a train. Being a Saturday and all, my desire for another cycle of REM …

January 23rd, 2014

“How can we have faith in the Bible with all its exaggerations?” Question is at 10:20. ‘Coming Attractions’ reads from the Gospel of Matthew.  ’Church Search’ visits Honolulu, HI.…

January 16th, 2014

“How did the Gospel writers come to know the stories they wrote in the Gospels?” Question begins at 8:09. ‘Coming Attractions’ reads from the Gospel of John. ‘Church Search’ visits Richmond, VA.…

December 12th, 2013

“Doesn’t Matthew 6:5-15 tell us not to pray in repetitions?” Question time is 7:00. ‘Coming Attractions’ reads from Matthew 11.  ’Church Search’ visits San Francisco, CA.…

July 11th, 2013

Where is Jesus’ age mentioned in the Scriptures? Question at 9:55. ‘Coming Attractions’ reads from Luke. ‘Church Search’ visits Jonesboro, Arkansas.…

August 9th, 2012

Intern-only podcast! Busted Halo Interns Amy Snopek, Alex Ponchak, and Vicki Gruta answer a question about reading the Bible and what helps them gain a better understanding of scripture. Church Search in San Diego.…

July 6th, 2011

Is it okay to read the Bible in the bathroom?  Allison the intern is co-host again.  Church Search goes to Rhode Island.  07-06-11.…

April 29th, 2011

John’s Gospel describes Jesus forming a “whip of cords” (John 2:15) and using it to drive out them out of the temple. How can we reconcile Jesus’ apparent anger with the notion of anger being a deadly sin? First, we don’t know that Jesus was angry. We do not have a description of his inner state of mind. What we do have is a description of bold behavior – fierce action. There is a difference between being angry and being fierce. In fact, Jesus’ disciples describe his actions in this scene as reminiscent of a passage from Scripture: “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” (Psalm 69:10) In other words, the disciples characterized Jesus’ demeanor as being zealous, not angry. Finally, for those who dismiss this line of argument as mere semantics, we can still conclude that Jesus’ anger, if indeed it is anger, is not designed to bring harm to the money-changers nor is it motivated by hatred or a need for vengeance. In other words, anger that is righteous, properly channeled, and not driven by hatred is not considered sinful. Being angry is not, in and of itself, sinful. When anger leads to actions that hurt others, either …

January 19th, 2011

This is a very insightful question. Sometimes the differences in interpretation of Scripture and Tradition seem overwhelming. However, unity is possible because Christ prayed for it at the Last Supper “that they all be one…so that the world may believe.” Thus, as John Paul II said in Paragraph 20 of Ut Unum Sint, “the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of “appendix” which is added to the Church’s traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she is and does.” (See: http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0221/_INDEX.HTM)
So unity is possible, it’s just a matter of how. The principle to keep in mind here is that of convergence (which is very different from compromise ). Namely, in the theological dialogues, delegates begin first by exploring what their traditions already agree upon. Then they move on to those issues which are still divisive. Almost always, we find that what we have in common is much more that what still divides. As they continue their deliberations, sometimes for years or even decades, new insights and articulations emerge in which both sides can recognize the full expression of their faith. This is the …

September 7th, 2010
Get to know the Word of God

The other day I was reading in Acts 8 about Philip the Evangelist, my namesake, along with some study bible commentary on his history. Even though I was named after him, I have never read these passages before. I finally did because recently I began using a plan to read through the entire Bible in a year. 

I’ve led Bible studies, attended college-level classes on scripture, and heard hundreds of sermons about Bible passages. But until now I’ve never read it all — only the “popular bits.” Of course, I’d heard a sermon or two about Philip’s meeting a eunuch on the road to Gaza and baptizing him, but until now I’d never read about the rest of his travels or learned about his role in the early church. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t already know more about my namesake. How did this happen?

July 14th, 2010

Fr. Dave, Brittany Janis, and intern-of-the-week all brave the swampy studio for a podcast about whether or not Catholics share the concept of the “Priesthood of all Believers” with other Christian denominations.  Church search goes all the way up to Alaska.  07-14-10

December 24th, 2009

Catholics differ from some Christian Churches which accept the Scripture as the only source of God’s revelation. Catholics have a strong belief in the truth of Scripture, but we also believe in tradition as a way in which God continues to reveal truth to us. Tradition can include beliefs, customs, prayers, and worship, the teaching of popes, bishops, theologians and Church councils. It’s our process of continually reflecting on the way in which the Word of God encounters our own experience as a community of faith.

Catholic understanding is that tradition includes the Scripture, and began before the gospels and letters were written. We do believe that Scripture is a unique revelation from God and that the truths of tradition must always be tested and evaluated against the truths revealed in Scripture. They should not contradict Scripture. They should find their roots in Scripture.

The belief that Mary lived without sin from the moment of her conception springs from Church tradition. It evolved over a period of time, and was not formally defined as a teaching of the Church until 1854. It is not found explicitly in Scripture, but seems for Catholics to flow naturally from the testimony of Scripture …

November 27th, 2009

What’s the deal with the book of Revelation?  It seems kinda demonic
more than something from God to me.

The Book of Revelation is one of the most misunderstood and abused books
of the Bible. It is easily misunderstood because it is filled with
symbolism whose meaning is often lost on today’s audience. It is abused
because some people take advantage of the seemingly nebulous meanings of
the symbols in the book and assign their own meanings to them in order
to frighten others into thinking that the end of the world is near. So,
why is the Book of Revelation written in such a strange and unique
style? It’s actually a form of literature called apocalyptic literature
which deals, not with a catastrophic event (as the word apocalypse is
understood today) but with a revelation intended to provide
encouragement and hope for people who are suffering through trials and

In the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is an example of
apocalyptic literature. When the Book of Revelation was written (around
the year 100 AD), the early Christian Church was suffering many
persecutions. For many, it seemed as though the “end” was near and, for
some, it indeed …

October 9th, 2009

Question:  Who is the disciple that Jesus loved?  A nun told me that it was John but then a scripture professor told me something else about it being all of us.

If I could provide the definitive answer about the identity of the “beloved disciple” and publish it in a book, I could probably retire tomorrow on the royalties. Unfortunately, we don’t really know for sure who the beloved disciple is. The phrase appears in the Gospel of John five times. Since this phrase appears only in John’s Gospel and does not appear in the other Gospels, it was traditionally assumed that it referred to John the Apostle and evangelist. Some scholars believe that this was an autobiographical device employed by John to refer to himself throughout his Gospel, since he never names himself among The Twelve.

Other scholars argue that, since John himself was most likely dead by the time his Gospel was recorded in writing, that his followers chose to honor him with this title. Still, others argue that this was a device John used to, in a sense, open up a space in the Gospel so that we might insert ourselves into the story and know what …

September 25th, 2009

This is a little bit like asking, “Why are there different look-out points for the Grand Canyon?” The Grand Canyon is simply too large, complex, and majestic to be taken in from one and only one perspective. In the same way, the experience of Jesus is too grand to be limited to one perspective. For this reason, we are blessed to have four Gospels – 4 different perspectives of the experience we call Jesus. Each evangelist tends to focus on a different aspect of the story. Interestingly enough, the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes (aka, The Feeding of the 5000) is the only miracle, other than the Resurrection, to appear in all four Gospels. This is an indication to us of the significance of this story which teaches us that Jesus is the only “food” that can satisfy our “hunger.” For Catholics, this food comes to us in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus. I suggest that you prayerfully read the 4 different accounts of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:34-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15) and reflect on each one, not analyzing them for the purpose of comparing and contrasting, but as …

September 18th, 2009

The story of Jonah is one of those Scripture passages that we as Catholics would say is a TRUE story, but not necessarily FACT. Catholics believe that everything in the Bible is TRUE in a religious sense. However, when it comes to scientific and historical truth (facts), there are times that the Bible is not totally accurate.

Why? Simply because the Bible comes to us from a time when most people were not literate and certainly not as literal as we are today. They did not have science and history as we understand those fields today. So, although there is a great deal of historicity in the Bible (proven by archeological study), we also find that there are places where figurative language was used. Figurative language (for example: “it’s raining cats and dogs”) expresses truth without relying on fact. In the case of the story of Jonah, we are not to concern ourselves with the physics of the situation (i.e. proving that a human can live in the belly of a large fish for three days), however, we are not to dismiss the story either as a fairy tale. It is a TRUE story: teaching us the truth of what …

November 19th, 2008
A financial advisor and a scripture professor offer advice on how to navigate the current economic crisis

Whether it is the rising cost of your weekly grocery bill, water cooler rumors about layoffs or the nightly news, everyone is reminded about the downturn in the economy on a daily basis. Last month, the Pope was quoted as saying, “We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing.” While that may be true on a spiritual level, money is an inescapable aspect in our daily lives. If money vanishes, so does our ability to feed, clothe and house ourselves.

For most of our generation, this is our first experience of a global financial crisis. What should the government do? What should we do as Christians? Busted Halo interviewed Timothy Sandoval, a professor of the Hebrew Bible and the author of the book Money and the Way of Wisdom: Insights from the Book of Proverbs . We also interviewed J. Michael Brown, an advisor with a major wealth management firm who is also Christian, to ask them some tough questions about how to navigate the financial storm.

BH: Does Christianity have anything to say about economics?

Timothy Sandoval (TS): Christianity, in my view, has some very important things to say about economics, …

November 13th, 2008

Father George Coyne, SJ, former director of the Vatican Observatory, talks with host Mike Hayes about the Catholic Church’s official view on evolution with regards to scientific theories and religious interpretations of the origin of the world. As part of our ongoing series “Googling God: Resources for the Spiritual Seeker,” Fr. Coyne covers topics like:…

Is intelligent design science?
Can a Catholic believe in evolution?
Are the stories of scripture scientifically based?
What does science say about our religious beliefs?

May 18th, 2008
So many Catholics go to Sunday Mass and are not Christ-like during the week. So many "good people" do not attend a formal church service every Sunday. Where in the Bible does it require weekly attending of the Mass? Can a very good Christian or Catholic be a holy person in action and deed including prayer and not be attending the ritual of Mass every Sunday?

One of the ten commandments is “remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then…in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-10).

The commandment doesn’t say anything about going to church; it simply sets aside one day of the week as a day of rest, when no work was to be done. It became customary among the Jewish people, however, to see the sabbath as a day to be “with” God in a special way. Much of their prayer centered in the home, but they also developed the custom of attending the synagogue on the sabbath to hear and study the word of God. Their sabbath, or seventh day, was on the day we call “Saturday.”

The “Mass” began when early Christians gathered together in their homes to share a meal in memory of Jesus, as he had asked them to do on the night before he died …

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