Busted Halo

Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.

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January 17th, 2012

Every year the rollercoaster speed at which the year passes from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is always baffling. Every year I’m caught so off guard when Christmas Eve rolls around that I’m positive that everyone else has their days mixed up. This year was no different.

This year we had both Thanksgiving and Christmas here at our house. And if that wasn’t enough pressure, La Lupe actually made the trek out to Austin to spend it with us. In case you don’t remember the debacle from last year, which was my hostessing skills, it suffices to say that I ended up sitting in a pew on Christmas Day crying because I felt like I had ruined Christmas. That was my first try at being the matriarch of the family. It was a total fail.

But this year was different. Well, a little different. I entered the holiday season determined to mellow out a bit and take things in stride. With La Lupe in town, I knew that I wouldn’t be in complete control of everything. I knew she would call some of the shots. And that made me feel a lot better.

We had 12 people staying with us, so …

January 12th, 2012

January 12, 2012 marks the second anniversary of the catastrophic 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, which hit the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince, destroying more than 97,000 homes and displacing 1.3 million people. Paul Jeffrey, United Methodist Missionary photojournalist and author of the new book, “Rubble Nation: Haiti’s Pain, Haiti’s Promise” talked with Fr. Dave about the state of Haiti then and now.

The Busted Halo Show with Father Dave Dwyer is on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, Sirius/XM 129, Monday through Friday, 7:00pm to 10:00pm EST. Give us a call with your questions and comments: 1-888-3-CATHOLIC, or at bustedhalo@thecatholicchannel.org. Go to www.siriusxm.com to get subscription information.…

January 12th, 2012

When you study to be a priest, attending Mass is as much of a part of one’s routine as brushing your teeth and applying deodorant. It may not happen EVERY single day, but it usually happens every day.

Anyway I mention this because I consider myself to be a pretty connected person in terms of news events; what I do not learn through my iPhone, I typically pick up during church. When you go to a Mass in which most in attendance feel free to vocalize the thoughts, concerns, and groanings in their souls, it can serve as a regular RSS feed on what is going on in the world. And, ironically, it was in this manner that I learned that the famed-atheist Christopher Hitchens had passed.

I struggled to write this reflection for a while; I was actually asked to do it two weeks ago. On the one hand I cannot claim to have read much of Hitchens’ material, so it seemed unfair to comment on the life of someone of whom I was only tangentially familiar. I had seen him on Bill Maher a few times and while I may not have always agreed with his conclusions — …

January 10th, 2012

A homeless man eats lunch in St. Vincent DePaul Community Center in Oakland, California (CNS photo/Greg Tarczynski)

For the past 18 months, I have seen a man pass our house in his wheelchair every week. He has long, dirty hair, lots of bags, and a bandaged foot. The first time we saw him was startling. If you remember, I previously wrote about how we moved into a suburban-ish area. We were unpacking boxes when we saw him move slowly past our window. He stood out. He wasn’t a twenty-something jogger listening to an iPod, he wasn’t two moms pushing their strollers and chatting, he wasn’t our neighbor walking his dog, he was a sick, slow moving man who, very likely, did not have a home. We stopped what we were doing and peered through our window until he was out of sight.

As time progressed, we figured out his schedule. He spends his time doing laps around our community. In the mornings I see him making his way along the running trails, in the afternoons I’ve seen him parked over by the lake, watching the waterfalls, and in the evenings he makes his way past our house. I never …

December 29th, 2011

Fr. Jack takes on tourists in Times Square to ask people what new year’s resolutions are going to be this year, what feast the Catholic Church celebrates on January 1, and if anyone knows about the biggest resolution ever made in all of human history.

Music: Kevin MacLeod

December 25th, 2011

A blessed and merry Christmas from the staff of Busted Halo!

(The Advent calendar contest is over. Thanks so much for being a part of it.)…

December 23rd, 2011

(CNS photo/Roi Azure, Reuters)

Keeping vigil has always been a spiritual practice in Catholicism. This is what we are essentially doing by attending any “Vigil” mass, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Savior.

There is also a Biblical reference here that can be included. The Shepherds in Luke’s infancy narratives in his Gospel were keeping watch over their sheep on the nightly vigil. In a sense, we are the same shepherds today and we are entrusted to keep watch over one another.

While we wait for God during Advent, it’s also important to note that God also keeps Vigil for us. Many people “come home” at Christmas and find God welcoming them back home once again. We pray that they find our church to be a welcoming place and that we show them the love that God always offers to us. In doing so, we have the opportunity to continually welcome them home each week and pray that they will be part of our community regularly.…

December 19th, 2011

My family really isn’t one for setting traditions in stone. For instance, most years for Thanksgiving, my family will all get together for a traditional turkey dinner, the deliciousness of which is only soured by the fact that I still apparently haven’t earned my spot at the adults’ table. But, there was one year where my family ate Thanksgiving dinner in a Del Taco in Anaheim, California. We were on our way to Disneyland, and our schedule had been thrown off by an unexpected extra two hours of traffic. That was a very testy Thanksgiving.

The same is true for our Christmas traditions — some years my dad will put lights on our house; other years he’ll refrain and then try to get me to put them up when I complain but I’m not falling for that. Sometimes, being San Diegans who are accustomed to temperatures that never go below 63°, we’ll drive out to the mountains where it snows and have a good laugh at how priceless my younger brother’s reaction is when getting pelted by a snowball with a nice rock nestled inside. My mom is actually the only one who is completely consistent with her …

December 15th, 2011

(CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)

“I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”

Such were the words of John the Baptist (John 1:26-27), the prophet who dedicated his life to a different kind of Advent: preparing as many people as he possibly could for the coming of the Messiah. After centuries of waiting, anticipation and prophecy, John was telling anybody who would listen that the time was nigh — Jesus, the Messiah, was very much here.

Even without that message, though, John would have in all likelihood had no trouble convincing people he was a little bit insane.

I like to think that when Jesus went out to the desert to see who exactly God had sent to stir up the crowds for his arrival, he saw John and, at least at first, kind of looked up to the sky as if to say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” For those unfamiliar with John the Baptist, a few points: he snacked on locusts and honey, was generally unkempt and probably didn’t have the most refined preaching …

December 13th, 2011

I can offer three that would be good to pray with:

1) St. Thomas Aquinas — the official patron of scholars and a doctor of the church. His great work, the Summa Theologica, might just be something you’re studying in fact.

2) Blessed John Newman is not yet a saint but is on the way to being one. He was very active in the intellectual life and set up centers for discussion so as to merge Catholics with intellectual conversation at universities as it was often misconstrued that to be Catholic is to be anti-intellectual. Campus Ministry Centers across the United States often bear his name. Read The Idea of a University sometime.

3) An obvious one is St. Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuits whose charism is education. Many Jesuit universities exist in the United States and elsewhere including Georgetown, Boston College, Fordham, and Loyola Marymount.

If you’re really desperate, you just might want to try St. Jude. He is the patron saint of hopeless cases and has been known to dig a few people out of a jam.…

December 9th, 2011

(CNS photo courtesy Catholic Communication Campaign)

If you were to read all four gospels thoroughly in search of Jesus’ teachings on homosexuality it would be a futile endeavor. Not only would you come to the end of the gospels without finding anything attributed to Jesus on the subject, you wouldn’t even find a single reference to the issue in any context.

In fact, there are only a handful of references to homosexuality in the entire Bible, but they are found in the Old Testament and Paul’s writings. (To put it in perspective, while there are only seven references to homosexuality, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of references to economic justice and the laws governing the accumulation and distribution of wealth.)

Jesus’ silence on the subject suggests that an issue which can be controversial and/or fraught with emotion these days was simply not a central issue in his lifetime 2,000 years ago in the land of Palestine. The fact that he didn’t address this issue leaves us all to ponder what he might say were he here today. …

December 6th, 2011

It’s a little more than a week into Advent 2011 and I’ve managed to write two posts for this Alternative Advent blog. The first was about my decision to live this Advent a little more intentionally — to really focus on waiting for Jesus’ birth, instead of just looking forward to Christmas. The second was about Joseph’s model of waiting in joyful hope, and how much trust that requires. I figured the third post should update readers on how I’m doing with the whole living Advent intentionally thing. And by that, I mean my editor told me that’s what this post should be about.

I’ll be honest: I’m at a loss. I can say that I’m waiting intentionally all I want, but what does that mean? So far, all that’s done is make me think twice about being excited about putting up a Christmas tree. I’ve also put off listening to Christmas music and watching my favorite Christmas movie of all time, the Jim Carrey version “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” I haven’t gone ice skating or looking at Christmas lights — I haven’t even found the time to roast chestnuts over an open fire. (Although that’s mostly because my …

December 1st, 2011

The Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins, S.J., has called the writings of the prophet Isaiah “the fifth gospel.” By this he means that so many of the themes of the gospels, enfleshed in their portrayal of Jesus, have their scriptural beginnings in Isaiah. Isaiah’s connection to the story of Jesus seems particularly strong in the Advent and Christmas seasons. Even the prophet’s name — Isaiah means “Yahweh saves” — foretells the Christmas story.

The book of Isaiah is one of the longest books in the Old Testament and the writings within it were composed over a period of so many years that most scholars believe there were at least three “prophet Isaiahs.” That is, prophets who lived long after the original Isaiah attached themselves to his name and style because of his importance and effectiveness as a conveyer of God’s message. For that reason the portions of the book of Isaiah between chapters 40 and 55 are often called “Deutero” or second Isaiah, and the chapters from 56 to 66 are called “Trito” or third Isaiah.

During the time of Jesus, nearly 800 years after the prophet’s own life and death, the words of Isaiah continued to be read prominently in …

November 28th, 2011

(CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

We live in a culture where Christmas commercials start on Oct. 29. Ours is not a culture that knows how to wait.

So when I read the email from my editor that told me that I’d be blogging about my effort to be intentional about living Advent this year, rather than just viewing it as a four-week-long obstacle to Christmas, I waited until the last minute to write my first post. I hope she thought that was as clever as I did – think of it as method writing.

Honestly, my decision to not write the first installment of this assignment immediately upon receiving that email was almost entirely intentional. (Were there also some procrastinatory tendencies at play? Maybe. You’ll never know.) I’m going to try and live this season, which doesn’t become the Christmas season until December 25. Right now, it’s November 28, and it’s Advent, and that means that I’m supposed to be preparing myself for the celebration of the anniversary of baby Jesus’ arrival into the world. And, after 21 Christmases and years of Catholic education, as well as a degree in theological studies under my belt, I realize that I still …

November 15th, 2011

Why, exactly, do Catholics have the practice of baptizing infants?

What is the purpose of baptism and who can celebrate the sacrament of Baptism?

Do the godparents of our child need to be married to each other?

These are questions and more are answered in this edition of “Sacraments 101,” a web video series geared for those who’d like an introduction or refresher course on these important, tangible Catholic experiences of God.

Baptism is the beginning of the sacramental life of the Church. So, let’s begin…

To download this video go here and click the download arrow or choose save or download.

November 2nd, 2011
Honoring the dead in the land of the living

A man stands next to the grave of a loved one during a Day of the Dead celebration in La Paz, Bolivia.(CNS photo/David Mercado, Reuters)

I’ve never celebrated Día de los Muertos. I’ve never heard La Lupe speak of celebrating it, either. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

A lot of people wrongly think that Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is celebrated on Halloween but it is, in fact, celebrated on November 1 — All Saints Day — for babies and November 2 — All Souls Day — for everyone else that has passed away. People mark the day with huge parties/parades and faces painted to look like skeletons. They make elaborate paper maché skeletons or skeleton puppets and dance all through the night. Families set up ofrendas dedicated to deceased loved ones with pictures, flowers, skulls, and food. What is especially touching about the day is that many families go to gravesites of their loved ones and sometimes eat the person’s favorite meal over their grave as a way of breaking bread with them once again.

This can seem weird and kind of supernatural but it is a great tribute to the …

October 13th, 2011

If your dog is a service dog and you or another member of your wedding party depend on it in order to participate in the liturgy, then you should be able to include the dog. You can even put a bow on its collar if Fido will tolerate it! But you can’t have a pet in your wedding for any other purpose. Liturgy, by definition, is the work of the people – it is the way that we come together to celebrate who we are and glimpse who we are called to become as the people of God. Even though pets are increasingly accepted in public places in the United States and some people think of their animals as members of their families, pets are not, in fact, people. Animals are a beautiful part of God’s creation, to be sure, but only humans are made in the image and likeness of God. Only humans have the privilege and the obligation to praise God by participating in the liturgy. Unless the dog’s role is to facilitate the participation of a person, it does not belong in church, no matter how special it is to you.…

October 5th, 2011

I am a perfectionist and a micromanager and am easily overwhelmed. There really is no combination that would result in a more tightly wound person. So it’s safe to say that sometimes I can get really hung up on a problem, and I can take life a little too seriously.

This is usually when something happens that is so random that it just has to be a sign for me to lighten up.

A professor once told us about a time that he was in New York City and was running late to catch a flight. A cab finally pulled over and they proceeded to La Guardia. This professor is a friendly guy. It was going to be a long drive so he tried to strike up conversation about the yoga book that was in the passenger seat, but the cab driver barely spoke English. He saw some tattoos on the man’s hands that he knew to be native to a region of Sudan that he was familiar with. Then he told us, “Only in New York can a fat-faced Irish man talk to a man from Sudan in a cab about yoga in Italian.” Seriously, an Irish man and …

September 20th, 2011

This week was one of those weeks when I was so exhausted I didn’t have the energy to filter. Truth – in the sense that it was exactly what I was thinking — was just coming out because I didn’t have the brain cells necessary to stop it. Out of that came one of the most correct observations I think I’ve ever made — deciding to be a teacher is like deciding to be a priest. You avoid it for as long as possible because it’s just so darn hard but, eventually, you have to give in because it’s all that really makes sense.

Deciding to be a teacher, and a good one at that, is a decision that is just as unnerving and avoided as is the call to the priesthood. For all the vocation stories I have heard, most include a period of ignoring God and avoiding this very clear internal compass pointing them toward Holy Orders. They could hear the footsteps of God steadily following every decision they made trying to get away from this vocation until they had to give in to such a persistent pursuant.

This is exactly how I have felt about the …

September 6th, 2011

My last La Lupe blog post generated some comments about what people believe leads to so many abortions. You know why I think there are so many abortions? Society no longer associates sex with babies.

If we really stop and think about the most natural things about our bodies, sex creating babies is right up there with being hungry and eating. Sex resulting in pregnancy is the natural order. When we’re hungry we eat. When we are tired, we sleep. When we have sex, we sometimes get pregnant.

But we don’t hear this message anywhere in society. Everything in society tells us that sex is for pleasure. Sex is for fun. Sex is for getting closer to another person. Sex is no big thing. Sex has nothing to do with babies. And this attitude is not just among non-married couples but married couples as well.

When we separate sex from babies then I can see how it might not take a huge leap for some people to believe it is ok to have an abortion. If sex is not “supposed” to end in pregnancy then having an abortion is just getting rid of something that was never supposed to happen …

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