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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February 7th, 2012

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and President Barack Obama at the White House in 2010. (CNS photo/Reuters)

I voted for President Obama in the 2008 election. Leading up to that election and after it, I’ve fought an uphill battle trying to explain how I could be Catholic and vote for a president that so obviously has pro-choice goals. In my argument, I kept coming back to the USCCB’s statement, “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support.” There are 7 principles of Catholic Social Teaching. When I weighed how many of the principles McCain stood for and how many Obama stood for, my tally was overwhelmingly in favor of Obama. Just to name a few, Obama is in favor of the DREAM Act and more comprehensive immigration reform. Obama wanted to reform healthcare (an issue I have written about at length). Obama’s economic policies were intended to directly help those at the bottom as opposed to using the trickle-down effect. And on and on. Even though Obama is pro-choice, I couldn’t ignore all those other extremely important issues that …

February 3rd, 2012

Home for the holidays, I told my mother that my students couldn’t believe I was in my thirties. Her response without missing a beat was, “That’s probably because you act so juvenile.” I wish I could say it went uphill from there, but sadly as I was helping to clear the table of turkey, etc., my grandma lamented, “Oh Jake, and you were doing so good! You look like you’ve gained all the weight back.”

In the safe white light of New Years, a colleague’s response to my tales was: “Wow, your family is really harsh.” My family is harsh… sometimes; and sometimes they are ridiculously loving, tender, supportive, manipulative, cowardly and courageous. All of the time, they are human.

Two of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture: Tree of Life and The Descendants, explicitly deal with the very complicated situation of being a member of a family. For better or for worse, we are someone’s daughter, son, father, mother, sister, brother or spouse — and that is no easy task, saturated as it is with all sorts of conflicting agendas and claims that cannot be compartmentalized like a job. With family, you’re in it for life.

While …

January 31st, 2012

I’m going to be honest. At the end of December I was not in a good place. I was unhappy with everything — my home, my relationship with everyone in my life, my spiritual life, my performance at work. Everything. I felt really bad about how I was doing all around. I just kept playing these scenes over and over in my head about times I had screwed up or done something to offend someone or said the wrong thing. I couldn’t get these conversations out of my head.

On my first day of vacation I just couldn’t shake this cloud that was hanging over me. So as I usually do when I’m feeling crummy, I decided to poke around the Internet for something interesting to read to get my mind off of myself. Whoa, did that make everything worse. I read about a mom who homeschools her kids and built a kiln in their backyard to teach them about chemistry and how it applies to pottery and glazing. Then I read about a Notre Dame grad with a beautiful family who is home with them full time, has a really successful sewing business, has great style, and has one …

January 25th, 2012

I always pictured my life differently. I’ve always been a simple girl with simple wants. I pictured that we would have a home without a TV, definitely no video games, a big garden out back where we’d grow a lot of our food, chickens for eggs. We’d make everything, our own clothes, our own laundry soap, etc. A pretty hippy existence all in all. My husband has a totally different picture in his head. He envisions a life where we would have most of the new gadgets that come out on the market. He is really interested in new technologies and how they can be integrated into everyday life. How the iPad or the Kindle Fire or smart phones can help us and actually be learning tools for the girls. Whenever a new piece of technology is released, we inevitably have to have a conversation about it and how it would fit into our life.

I’d say this is the hardest part of our marriage, having to blend my idea of life with his idea of life. This is something that a lot of marriages struggle with. When you get married, you’re not the only one calling the shots about …

January 24th, 2012

This seems to be the dream: to grow up and play in the World Series or the Super Bowl, or the NBA Championships. Every American boy sits in front of the television watching the world’s finest athletes stretch themselves to their physical and emotional limits, hoping that one day, they too will garner a nugget of athletic immortality — hold the trophy, wear the ring, sell the shoes. I was not that boy, and this was not my dream.

This is not to say that I didn’t have my own gather around the TV time — I did — but it had nothing to do with athletic accomplishment and everything to do with self-congratulatory behavior of the highest order. Of course I’m talking about the Academy Awards, the source and summit of every filmmaker’s, film actor’s and film lover’s year. That completely unnecessary, yet utterly imperative, exercise in informing all of show business just how important all of show business is. So while the other kids got excited about the 49ers versus the Dolphins or the Royals versus the Cardinals, I got worked up over Goodfellas versus Dances with Wolves (I still think you made a terrible call on that …

January 23rd, 2012

People gather at the annual Vigil for Life at the National Shrine. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

You know, I probably shouldn’t say this, but on this Pro Life weekend, I really didn’t know what to say today. Every time I started to write one thing about the March For Life, two other concerns came to the fore. This was an issue that I used to look at in very black and white terms when I was younger. Then I got to a point where I could only see it in terms in gray. Now I guess I am at a point where I look at it in terms of black and white…and gray.

At first glance it’s a black and white issue, an open and shut case, there’s really not much more to discuss. And I have to say that this past October, I was given the amazing gift of two nieces — each from my two sisters — and I even got to be in the room for the birth of one of them.  During Christmas I got to hold each one of them in my arms and during that moment, the sacredness and holiness of each life could …

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 …

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