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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August 24th, 2011

The other day I read one of the most horrific, truly mind-boggling statistics I’ve ever read. But I will get to that in a second. First I want to establish a few points. I am pro-life. Obviously. Hopefully that is clear from my writing. But sometimes I am so embarrassed by the 1% of pro-life people that believe they are furthering the cause when really they are just giving others ammunition against us.

A few months ago I read this post on pro-life euphemisms. The author very articulately scolds pro-life advocates that put their energy into not-so-important hair-splitting instead of something useful. She talks about people who correct mothers that use the phrase “welcome into the world” at their child’s moment of birth. They argue that we “welcome the baby into the world” at conception and “meet for the first time face-to-face” at birth. I read that and said, “Ok, I get your point. Technically this is correct. Nit-picky, but ok, I get it.”

Then a few weeks ago I read this from a pro-life advocate, “A baby should be named as soon as the mother knows she is pregnant, giving that baby a girl and boy name. Deciding to …

August 23rd, 2011

Annie and Fr. Emiel, O. Carm

As I sit in the Madrid airport and wait for my flight to America, I can’t help but to reflect on this week. It feels like a dream that I have yet to wake up from. I experienced things I never would have imagined and accomplished numerous feats that pushed me way out of my comfort zone.

There are a few young pilgrims waiting to board in front of me, which instantly reminds me of the New Jersey Carmelite United group I met my first day here. From their trek on the Camino with Joe to experiencing every aspect World Youth Day had to offer, though I only met them for a short while, they inspired me more than they know. Many were headed off to college and reminded me of my life back then. At that time, I know I was not as brave as they are to travel to another country and explore their faith.

Annie's favorite nun, Sr. Carmen, Religious of Immaculate Mary

In high school I was fearful of the future. Where will I go to college? What will I do when I grow up? Who am I going to

August 17th, 2011

This town is absolutely beautiful, amazing and (as my new friend, Bill Angresano, says,) “outta control.”

Even as I write this post at a café near the big church, a raucous drumming interrupts the regular music and ambiance of the street, and a procession of “St. James” followed by various signs of death and witches passes by — (see video below.)

Cathedral de Santiago

Today, the sixth and final day of our hike on the Camino, we finally reached our destination, the giant cathedral of St. James within the city of Santiago de Compostela — the scallop shells along the path leading us right to the very steps of the magnificent Cathedral de Santiago.

We had already had five long days preceding us, and this 20km day was no easier. Midway through it we were all exhausted. Midway through the next half, the realization we were almost there inspired and carried us the rest of the way until suddenly we were in front of one of the largest Catholic churches we had ever seen.

The site of the massive cathedral, its two towers, and ornate façade are enough on their own to wow anyone, but taking into account we …

August 17th, 2011

As my summer draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on my feelings of starting a new year of seminary.

In order to answer the question, “Am I looking forward to going back to seminary?” it’s probably best to relay a conversation that I recently had with one of the Paulist priests. It was a simple conversation that happened a few weeks ago; I bumped into this Paulist with whom I am friends in DC while I was staying in Boston for the summer. He asked me if I was looking forward to my upcoming ordination. I replied that I was. Very much so. Because then I wouldn’t have to be in seminary any more.

My answer was not that I would finally get to serve the people. My answer was not that I could shine the love of God outward into a darkened world. It was that I would not have to be in seminary any more.

I know, I know. On some level I am supposed to say what a grace-filled time this is, what a blessing it is for me to have the opportunity to grow as a person, that all of God’s gifts are good, blah, …

August 16th, 2011

A woman and a small boy kneel in prayer during Spanish Mass. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

This summer, we were lucky enough to spend a week in El Paso. Apart from the obvious great things that come with being in El Paso — La Lupe, La Lupe’s food, La Lupe’s hospitality, the descendants of La Lupe — one of the things I look forward to the most is going to Mass.

Whenever we are in El Paso we attend Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. When we lived in El Paso we were so loyal to this church that I actually thought it was the only church in all of El Paso until I was about 9.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen. As you walk into the church, you are immediately drawn into La Virgencita’s story. The entire 40-foot wall behind the altar is a painting of Jesus crucified with Our Lady of Guadalupe at his side. Lining the other walls are huge 10-foot tall paintings that tell the story of the indigenous people being colonized by the conquistadors and then ending with La Virgen’s apparition to Juan Diego. …

August 12th, 2011

Last August, I moved in with my two Jewish roommates and we started writing about our interfaith living situation for the Busted Halo blog, Girls Meet God. Truthfully, I’ve never been one to talk openly about religion and while I was raised Catholic I never really knew the exact answers of why I believe the things that I do. Often, it was just a reflection of what I experienced as a child.

Why do I give up chocolate for Lent? Does going to church every Sunday really make you a better Catholic? Are there coincidences in life, or is it all a part of God’s bigger plan? I’m hoping to find the beginnings of these answers while in Madrid for World Youth Day, but also to discover why the Catholic faith is so important to some and what being Catholic means for people in different countries.

Throughout the past few years, it wasn’t at Mass that I felt God’s presence, but at concert venues, pursuing what I love. That’s where I truly feel connected to my faith. My roommates have told me, “Doing what you love takes a lot of faith.” While I believe this to be true I’m …

August 9th, 2011

Despite the popular sentiment found in Office Space, the 8-hour workday was a huge victory for laborers burdened with 12-16-hour workdays. 8 hours work, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours sleep seems very reasonable and makes sense. But after I moved to Austin to live in the same city as Brandon, I started to get the feeling that an 8-hour workday didn’t really work for me.

Before I moved to Austin, I never had a real 9-to-5 job. In college, I worked in the dean’s office with other people that lived in my dorm, and I had at least some classes with my roommates. After college I worked at a Catholic Worker house where I lived and worked with the same people. I liked life like this. Home and work were kind of one in the same.

Brandon and I had been dating long distance for a couple of years, and we decided that we needed to live in the same city to truly discern whether or not we wanted to get married. So I moved to Austin and got a regular 9-to-5 job. I didn’t see Brandon every day until 6 or 7 at night. We’d go for a run …

August 6th, 2011

Unfamiliar with the week long international Catholic spectacle known as World Youth Day? Take a quick look at our 2 minute video telling you all you need to know and find out what Busted Halo will be up to in Madrid this August for WYD 2011.

You can download this video here. (Depending on your browser, clicking this link might save the video to your default downloads location or open the video in a new window. You can probably right-click or control-click the link and specify where to save it.)…

August 5th, 2011

When 10,000 Maniacs visited Loyola College in Maryland in 1990, I did not go. As a college freshman who was only a few months removed from the “Hair Metal” culture that then dominated Northern New Jersey, I was not able to comprehend a band whose female lead singer used dramatically less “Aqua Net” than the male lead singers I had been listening to. But lately, I have found myself nostalgic for music that I did not listen to “back in the day,” music that never found it’s way into my own stereo but was playing in the background in the rooms of those with more progressive musical tastes. Perhaps it’s because the music of Natalie Merchant, R.E.M., and the Sundays never had the opportunity to be overplayed in my Walkman that their connections to another part of my life remain strong.

On some level, it’s a little strange that my song of the summer is about a child’s vacation spent somewhere in Europe. I have spent the last two months in Boston, a city that began as a rejection of all things east of the Atlantic and “Verdi Cries” is not exactly a song that would ever be covered by …

August 2nd, 2011

Before coming to write at Busted Halo™ I was already a fan. At that time I was a high school theology teacher so I LOVED how real and relatable everything was on the website. I showed quite a few of the Busted Halo™ videos to my classes, and they loved them. They appreciated that a ministry of the Church was vibrant and modern and tech-y. They ate it up. They were especially impressed with the video explaining the Church’s stance on evolution.

By a completely fortuitous string of events, I submitted my first La Lupe post (after asking permission to write about her), and since then I have really come to value being part of the Busted Halo™ family.

I think that being a young adult is hard but being a faithful young adult is even harder. There is so much transition after leaving college. In college you find insta-friends and don’t have to look far for people that are like you and interested in the same things — for the most part. Then you’re thrown out into the real world. You could move to Seattle and work on an organic farm. You could join the Peace Corps. You could …

July 27th, 2011

What do the phrases “God’s Will” and “God’s plan” really mean? Is it God’s Will when someone suffers? Is it against God’s Will if we decide a possible calling isn’t right for us? A caller question on the Busted Halo radio show about whether the use of medical technology interferes with God’s plan leads Fr. Dave, Robyn and Brett into an interesting conversation about our ability to intervene in, or even define, God’s will for our lives — spanning topics of medical care, callings, the movie The Adjustment Bureau, genetic engineering and the anthropomorphizing of God.

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.…

July 26th, 2011

Credit: CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass

Before I met Brandon, whenever I heard of the Knights of Columbus, I pictured a bunch of old, crotchety, white men sitting around selling chicken or pancakes after Mass. I think we’ve probably all had the experience of being at a church event and instructed to do something by a surly old man in a Knights polo that acts as if he is running the show. Needless to say, my impression of the group was negative and I have met a lot of people who are not shy about voicing this same opinion.

Being a Knight, Brandon is always telling me stories about them. He told me how the Knights were actually founded during a time of rampant Catholic discrimination.  The Knights of Columbus wanted to give men a strong Catholic community to help support their family values and maintain their faith during a time of persecution.  Brandon has also told me about how much good they do. It really is amazing. Just a couple of neat facts about them: Every year they give away about $150 million to charitable causes. All the members combined work 70 million volunteer hours a year. After Hurricane …

July 25th, 2011

A church building is a special place calling for special behavior. While the church is our home and we should feel comfortable there – indeed, the church (small “c”) is a gathering place for the Church, the people of God (capital “C”) – that doesn’t mean that anything goes. Your actions in church show respect for God and for the community that gathers there. If you are stopping by the church to pray, even just for a moment, your actions should respect the place and its purpose.

Spit out your gum, turn off your cell phone, check that you’re appropriately dressed and make the most of the precious opportunity to step away from the ordinary and into a sacred space and time. If you are in the church for mass and you wish to go to communion, remember that Catholics are required to fast for one hour before receiving the Eucharist. This ensures that we are “hungry” (at least symbolically) for the Eucharist and that we show respect for the Body of Christ. The Eucharist is real food, but it is not ordinary food, and thus we don’t mix it in with bites of our ordinary food and drink. Snacking …

July 20th, 2011

The Catholic Church teaches that human sexuality is a beautiful gift from God. It allows us to love others and, in a special way, to truly give ourselves in love to one other person. Through married love a couple unite themselves to each other and open themselves to the precious gift of life, literally becoming co-creators with God if they are blessed with the gift of a child. This may seem like a lofty ideal, especially because it is so counter-cultural today. But it is the standard to which we hold all our expressions of human sexuality. Other expressions become more and more objectionable the further they stray from this ideal.

Even though you say the job involves only dancing and no sexual touching, you are nevertheless engaging in a sexual expression (and encouraging those who watch you to engage in a sexual expression) that deviates from the intended purpose of human sexuality, which should be expressed as a loving, intimate union between two people who are committed to each other for life. Genuine sexual intimacy is meant to celebrate the dignity of the human person and to call a person into deeper relationship with his/her spouse. Erotic dancing in …

July 19th, 2011

milk-flash1La Lupe is probably the best nagger on the planet. Everyone around her is poked and prodded to change certain habits. Of course her constant corrections come from a place of total love. She has lived 82 years and knows a little something about habits and what happens after a lifetime of them.

The two things she is always hounding me about are to sit up straight and to drink plenty of milk. Between having eight babies and breastfeeding all of them, La Lupe knows a thing or two about the logistics of motherhood. Whenever I talk to her on the phone she asks me if I’m drinking enough milk because if not then those babies are going to take all my calcium and make me jorobada like her. And as for my posture, moms in general always have bad posture. If we’re not holding one baby on our hip and trying to drag another away from imminent danger, then we’re lugging loads of baby gear around or stooping over to pick up toys or looking for a lost sock or something. You get it. Moms = bad posture.

I’ve never taken any of this seriously. I’ve never actually been …

July 12th, 2011

marriage-rainbows-puppies-flashI confess. I love celebrity gossip. I love all those magazines that crowd the checkout aisle at the grocery store. I love the fashion. I love the makeup. I love the gossip. But with kids, our budget made me decide between diapers and Us Weekly. Assuming that the girls wouldn’t enjoy their bums being swaddled in pictures of Alicia Silverstone’s new baby, I choose to go with diapers.

But this past weekend we took a mini-vacation and visited my parents in Houston. So I splurged and bought the juiciest looking mag I could find.

As I flipped through the pages I was not disappointed. Beautiful dresses and gorgeous handbags. The newest trends in shoes. I was almost giddy. But then I started reading about couples that have separated or divorced. While this isn’t new — celebrities not having long-lasting relationships — I read about some couples I thought were going to be together forever. Courtney Cox and David Arquette? When the heck did that happen? I thought they were rock solid. I had to run to the computer and look up Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. just to make sure they were still together so I could feel …

July 5th, 2011

toomuchlove-flash“Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.” -C.S. Lewis

I know that Lewis was probably referring to God loving us too much but I think this works for us as well. I am always too embarrassed, and sometimes even scared, to love people the way I know I should because I don’t want them to think that I love them too much.

The women in my family have taught me how to show love through affection, hospitality, and generosity.  There is not a woman who so openly shows her extravagant love as La Lupe.  Everyone that crosses her path is well-fed, hugged, kissed, maybe scolded a bit, but definitely knows her love.  She is a great role model in this regard.

For some reason, while I know what I need to do to show people love, I really struggle with actually doing it.  When I attend weddings, I get so nervous about talking to the newlyweds that I actually avoid them. I tell myself that they have more important people that they want to talk to than me so I avoid them to not take up time. (I know, pretty self-deprecating. …

June 28th, 2011

tin roofI’ve been anxiously awaiting my trip to Nashville for what seems like forever. Since my first visit there two years ago my life has changed dramatically. No longer a recent college graduate, I’m not unsure of my future and my answer to the once dreaded question, ‘What do you do?’ Finally, I can say I’m a music journalist and not hesitate while thinking, ‘Well, I work here during the day but I write here and intern here.’

Sitting at Tin Roof for lunch (and sweet tea!) in Nashville by myself after David Nail’s fan club performance, I’m reminded that he was the first country artist I interviewed just two years ago. A lot has happened since then.

Overhead, Third Eye Blind is blasting from the speakers. Next, I hear Boys Like Girls and Taylor Swift’s “Two Is Better Than One” before the DJ segues into Train’s latest single. It’s here that it hits me. I have interviewed every single artist just played on the radio. Hard to believe exactly two years ago I was here for fun, covering the CMA Music Festival writing for free and now I’m getting paid to do what I love.

Sure, there have been some …

June 23rd, 2011

suckitup-flashWe’ve all been there. Your husband is spilling his heart out to you and the only thing you want to do is yell, “Freakin’ suck it up and deal with it!” Ok, maybe it’s just me. Sometimes I’m too tired to offer a sympathetic ear. Sometimes I’ve heard the same thing over and over, and I just don’t want to hear it again. But mostly I want to tell him this because I don’t think what he is complaining about is all that bad.

When Brandon complains about having a hard day, I have to bite my tongue from saying, “Hard day? When your client poops all over your last clean t-shirt and knocks over a canned food display in the grocery store then I will believe you’ve had a rough day.” I feel like I have it harder than him so I don’t feel like his complaining is justified. More likely than not what actually comes out of my mouth is, “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and keep forging ahead.”

Talk about breaking the first rule you learn in Marriage 101. Listening and being compassionate are pretty high on the list of necessary communication skills. So while I …

June 16th, 2011

monica-oprah_finale-largeAt what age are we supposed to receive everything we’ve ever dreamt of? Not 25 — I’ll tell you that. But for some reason, many of us at this age feel like we are supposed to be at a certain place in life. For many of us, we are gravely disappointed when 26 shows up.

Two Weeks Ago

If you haven’t heard, Oprah is no longer on the air 4 p.m. EST on ABC. Her 25 years came to an end the same time mine did. I would be lying to say I didn’t cry during her last episode. I don’t know if it was her leaving, or the mere fact that I felt like the adult who would say to her kids, “I remember where I was when JFK was shot,” only this time it would be, “I remember where I was when Oprah’s final episode aired.” (Technically I was at Six Flags, but watched it on Tivo as soon as I got home.)

The point being is she was an icon to me — the way Lisa Ling, Diane Sawyer and others are. And I will be sad when they go too. But Oprah was always something …

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