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Busted Halo contributors examine the spiritual themes of your favorite movies. Join us for a unique look at the intersection of faith and Hollywood.

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August 5th, 2014

A scene from the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy.” (CNS photo/Disney)

A scene from the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy.” (CNS photo/Disney)

It’s been a while since I’ve essentially claimed a movie character is a stand-in for Jesus, and honestly, it would be almost too easy to call this “Our Star-Lord and Savior” and talk to you for a few paragraphs about the Christ-like qualities of Guardians of the Galaxy’s main character, Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill (or “Star Lord,” as he prefers to be called). But to do that would be to ignore the brilliant ensemble that the Guardians truly are, to skip out on all the dynamic characters and relationships that the team brings. Frankly, it just wouldn’t be right.

So let’s get into it: What do you know about the Guardians of the Galaxy? Could you even name who’s in the team? Don’t worry if you can’t. Even for comic book buffs like myself, they’re a little obscure. The team is comprised of five members — smooth-talking leader Peter Quill/Star-Lord, fierce green-skinned assassin Gamora, vengeful warrior Drax, and the duo you’re most likely to recognize, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, a genetically enhanced talking raccoon and a giant tree-man whose only vocabulary consists of the sentence “I am …

August 4th, 2014

arewethereyet-5“Are we there yet?”

Anyone who’s been on a long enough car ride (especially with a little kid) is certainly more than familiar with the oft-repeated phrase. After a while, taking a trip ends up taking its toll on the people who are traveling. Yet along with the monotony a long journey can bring, surely there is some value in the voyage itself (other than just getting us to our destinations, of course!).

Allow me to paint a scene for you. It begins with a long road, stretching miles between two cities. Along this dusty road walk two travelers, keeping up a strong and steady pace in hope of reaching their destination on time. Like anyone else who travels, these two begin to get bored. The “Are we there yet?” phase starts to settle in. They talk with one another, discussing current events.

Suddenly they are joined by a third party, a fellow journeyman walking down the road in the same direction as them. Our two travelers welcome this man, and invite him to be part of their conversation. They speak to him about a friend of theirs who recently died, among other matters. As it starts to get late, …

August 1st, 2014

Pope Francis waves as he delivers Sunday Angelus.All is lost with with war, especially children's lives and future, the pope said. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis waves as he delivers Sunday Angelus.All is lost with with war, especially children’s lives and future, the pope said. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Lately, we’ve been bombarded with so many sad events. From the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down in Ukraine, to children and others fleeing Central America because of unbearable gang violence, to the fighting between Israel and Palestine, the world indeed looks like a precarious place.

In times like these, we are called to pray for and to do whatever is necessary for peace. And Pope Francis has given us good examples of both.

Regarding the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, Pope Francis drew attention especially to minors seeking asylum from the violence and oppression in a speech directed mostly at Mexico, but with a clear call for U.S. immigration policy officials to pay attention.

“Such a humanitarian emergency demands as a first urgent measure that these minors be protected and duly taken in,” Pope Francis said. He reminds us not to forget those in harm’s way when we can easily be preoccupied with our own personal worries and problems.

When Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down, the pope called not

July 31st, 2014
A personal take on playing “God Bless America” at Major League Baseball games

Players stand on the field for the national anthem before an opening day game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves in Washington, D.C. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

Players stand on the field for the national anthem before an opening day game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves in Washington, D.C. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

I have been a fan of the New York Yankees for just about my entire life. For as long as I can remember, I have spent countless hours watching games in the only chair that directly faces the TV in my kitchen. In 2003, when I was 9 years old, my parents took me to my first Yankees game. Out of everything that went on at the game, one particular moment has stuck in my mind: the seventh inning stretch.

Just as it did when the Yankees took on the Seattle Mariners that night, Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” blares over the PA system at every game played in Yankee Stadium. I can recall vividly the way the entire stadium stood up (some silently, some über-patriotically belting out the words) to honor America and the military personnel serving both at home and abroad. I remember the overwhelming sense of patriotism and pride I felt being a part of the crowd of more than 30,000 people that stood up to …

July 29th, 2014

A photo from Rebecca's trip to new Mexico.

A photo from Rebecca’s trip to new Mexico.

The summer before last, I took a trip — a pilgrimage, if you will — to a little town in New Mexico called Las Cruces. Though the raison d’être of the journey was purely medical (and that was not at all exciting for me), I was excited to finally be going to a place that wasn’t on the East Coast. So, when I boarded the plane, my mental plans firmly included not letting the doctor’s office completely encompass my time and thoughts.

I succeeded in that respect. I spent plenty of time in restaurants, tasting the local cuisine, and outdoors, enjoying the radically different desert climate and the bizarre (since I’m used to the deciduous and coniferous types) flora and fauna. On various hikes, including trails such as the Dripping Springs Natural Area and the Pine Tree Loop, as well as the White Sands National Monument, I had the chance to meet with all new kinds of life, greatly broadening my knowledge of God’s creation. At some points, I experienced nature a bit more closely than I would have liked — as per my terrifying encounter with a Tarantula Hawk

July 28th, 2014
When communion bread started to taste as challenging as a vanilla wafer, we refreshed our faith with a different kind of vacation service

Young girls carry the World Youth Day cross upon its arrival in the South African province of Eastern Cape. (CNS photo/Koadi Mathibedi)

Young girls carry the World Youth Day cross upon its arrival in the South African province of Eastern Cape. (CNS photo/Koadi Mathibedi)

We hopped into a little Nissan Almera and started off around Table Mountain. The South African landmark stood, flat-topped, above Cape Town. The city we knew flowed down to the harbor from there. We were headed to the other side, one that most visitors don’t see.

The car was steered by Matsepane Morare, a Jesuit priest in denim and fringe. Matsepane was going to take my husband and me to Mass in a township behind the mountain, where a large percentage of Cape Town’s 3.7 million residents live.

For years, I’d attended local churches while on vacation. Even when conducted in another language, the familiar ceremony reassured me. The communion bread went down like a vanilla wafer. I always got the comforting, if slightly bland, sense that we share the same Christian faith worldwide.

Typically, these churches were just the closest ones to my hotel. What I’d never done was seek one out more deliberately, by finding out which local parishes were known for their strong faith or great music. This time I’d made an effort, asking local …

July 7th, 2014

While vacationing in Las Vegas, Busted Halo’s own Fr. Jack Collins, CSP, decides to hit the strip and ask people what they know and think about that topic everyone associates with Vegas … sin.…

June 27th, 2014

Candles held at the start of the Easter Vigil at St. John By the Sea Church in Alaska. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Candles held at the start of the Easter Vigil at St. John By the Sea Church in Alaska. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

“Come, follow me.”

These are the words of Jesus to Peter, a fisherman casting his net into the Sea of Galilee.

“Get up and go.”

These are the words of Jesus to Saul (soon to be Paul), a zealous persecutor of the earliest Christian community.

On the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, we are reminded of the kinetic nature of discipleship. To encounter Jesus is to be set into motion. To have our plans altered (read: obliterated). To serve and encourage and comfort and teach. To be willing to empty ourselves in order to be filled with Christ.

Fr. Kenneth Walker was a priest. A young priest. He was assigned to Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission. He served the homeless who came to the mission, was a passionate advocate for the unborn, and was eager to share the beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass. He was a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. According to those who helped him prepare to live out his priestly vocation, he was a humble guy. He …

June 25th, 2014

factsfaith-stpaul-flashFr. Larry explains what has happened to St. Paul’s remains after he was martyred in Rome.  He and Fr. Dave also discuss St. Paul’s Basilica — one of the four main basilicas in Rome — and a kooky superstition associated with it.…

June 19th, 2014

popemobilesardinecan1“I remember in Brazil, they’d provided for me an enclosed Popemobile, but I cannot greet the people and tell them I love them inside a sardine can, even if it is made of glass. For me it is a wall.” — Pope Francis to La Vanguardia, a Spanish newspaper

We’ve got one cool pope. The guy greets large crowds all the time, kisses kids on the head, drinks coffee from strangers, and reportedly sneaks out at night to visit the homeless.

So, perhaps the popemobile, a vehicle with bulletproof glass on all sides, is sending the wrong message.

I remember when the popemobile first arrived on the scene after the attempted assassination of John Paul II. We all thought it was kind of cool, but it did seem to restrict the movements of a very vibrant pope.

Restrictions are something Pope Francis would like to avoid, and furthermore, Pope Francis knows the risks. In the recent Vanguardia article, he also notes his age and realizes that he may not have too many opportunities to bring the love of the pope so directly to others.

“It is true something could happen to me but let’s be realistic, at my age I …

June 18th, 2014

If you’re looking for this summer’s most action-packed blockbuster, then you should not see The Fault in Our Stars. But if you’re looking for a movie with a little more depth than just superheroes, explosions, and gunfire, then you should get to the theater now. And based on the box office numbers, you won’t be alone. Warning: Bring an entire box of tissues. (I made the mistake of leaving mine at home and was left with the back of my hand.)

The film adaptation of John Green’s famous novel follows 16-year-old Hazel Grace, who suffers from cancer that makes breathing difficult. She carries around an oxygen tank and must wear a tube around her face everywhere she goes. Though reluctant, she attends a weekly support group, and while there, meets Augustus Waters and his friend Isaac, who both have cancer as well: Gus had his leg amputated and Isaac will go completely blind soon. Through a series of events (romantic picnics, phone calls in the middle of the night, and a trip to Amsterdam on the tab of Make-a-Wish), Gus and Hazel fall in love, despite Hazel’s cynical view of her life and her impending death. Mortality is …

June 12th, 2014

A scene from "X-Men: Days of Future Past."

A scene from “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

With summer beginning to take hold, it’s once again time to welcome the droves of big-budget action blockbusters to the silver screen, and chief among them is the hottest trend in movies today: the superhero flick. This “summer” alone, we’ve already had three, and it’s only the beginning of June! Still, as I’ve said before, I believe firmly in the Jesuit tradition of finding God in all things, and summer superhero features are no exception. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the three examples of comic book cinema — Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and X-Men: Days of Future Past — and see just what spiritual wisdom we can glean from their spandex-clad stars.

Captain America
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, at times feeling more like a Bond-esque spy movie than a superhero tale, is a story packed to the brim with espionage, double-crossing, and plenty of lies. If nothing else, the movie repeatedly emphasizes one point about the titular Captain’s dealings with his “allies” in modern society (namely, the government agency S.H.I.E.L.D.) — there is no one he can …

June 6th, 2014
A new, inspiring documentary follows the journey of six pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago

I’ve always wanted to go to Europe. However, I never imagined that anything could make me want to walk 500 miles — the entire width of northern Spain (as in, the country) — with little more than the clothes on my back. But after seeing Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, a documentary that followed the experiences of various people who made the journey, I have to say that I am inspired.

Walking the Camino, a film directed and produced by Lydia B. Smith, is an eye-opening experience. Wrapped up in our modern worlds of technology and other complexities, we have grown detached from the simplicity and beauty of the world surrounding us, not to mention the spiritual peace which can at times be difficult to grasp. The documentary follows the travels of six different pilgrims as they make their way along the Camino Francés, one of the many paths of the Camino de Santiago.

The Camino is a pilgrimage route that has been traveled for more than 1,200 years. There are hostels, called albergues, and other centers for hospitality along the path, which offer pilgrims food, beds, medical attention, and anything else that might be needed. …

June 5th, 2014

Pope Francis stops in front of an Israeli security wall in Bethlehem, West Bank, on his recent visit to Palestine. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, pool)

Pope Francis stops in front of an Israeli security wall in Bethlehem, West Bank, on his recent visit to Palestine. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, pool)

This Sunday, Shimon Peres, president of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas, president of Palestine, will join Pope Francis at the Vatican for a “prayer meeting for peace,” the Vatican Information Service said.

The prayer meeting, which the Vatican has been careful to note is not a prelude to formal peace talks, is the result of the pope’s recent trip to Jordan, Palestine, and Israel.

“We’re meeting to pray, only that,” the pope said, “and then everyone will go home.”

The pope’s trip was full of symbolic gestures that promoted peace and condemned violence on both sides. So of course, the prayer meeting is noteworthy because violence in the Middle East remains a tragic reality. If these three men, whose faiths have been at odds for centuries, can inspire others to join together and abstain from violence, the meeting will be a success.

And just as interesting, the meeting demonstrates how far the Catholic Church has come in how it approaches other faiths over the past 50 years.
The pope’s decision to bring two of his friends, one …

May 30th, 2014

Scene from the movie “Million Dollar Arm.” (CNS photo/Disney)

Scene from the movie “Million Dollar Arm.” (CNS photo/Disney)

JB Bernstein is at the end of his rope. He’s had a slick car, a stylish house, and a smooth living as a sports agent, but with clients losing interest, it’s all begun to fall apart. As his last big opportunity slips through his fingers, JB faces defeat. Yet even if it’s only a façade, he has hope for the future — hope that manifests itself in the form of a competition called Million Dollar Arm.

Such is the setup for the film of the same name, which features Jon Hamm as the aforementioned JB Bernstein. Based on a true story, Million Dollar Arm tells the tale of Bernstein’s last-ditch effort to travel to India, recruit two cricket players, and teach them American baseball in the hopes of making them MLB stars. Of course, the plan doesn’t go exactly as he expected (because let’s be honest, if it did, there’d be no movie). Yet, with every hitch in the works, from finding out that the two kids JB thinks are “cricket masters” have never even played cricket to the (somewhat forced) decision to let them stay in his home rather than …

May 20th, 2014
The pope's upcoming trip to the Holy Land continues a tradition of building ecumenical and interfaith relationships

Pope Francis embraces Catholicos Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, during a meeting at Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis embraces Catholicos Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, during a meeting at Vatican. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis is cultivating a “culture of encounter.” And his garden is not just within the Catholic Church, but includes Christians from other churches as well as members of other world religions.

This is not a new style for him. When he was still Cardinal Bergoglio in the archdiocese of Buenos Aires in Argentina, his financial manager was an evangelical into whose office he would regularly come, and with whom he would read some scripture, share some prayer, and drink some tea. When another asked him why he did that, his response was: “People do that with their friends!”

He was making a point about his relationship with evangelicals. Indeed, Cardinal Bergoglio’s election as pope received a glowing response in evangelical circles throughout the Americas. Christianity Today, the flagship publication of evangelicalism in America, ran three high-profile pieces detailing the reaction of leading evangelicals who had worked with him during his decades of ministry in Latin America, or were familiar with it.

Juan Pablo Bongarrá, president of the Argentine Bible Society, recalled when Bergoglio once attended a …

May 16th, 2014

Pope Francis celebrates ordination Mass for new priests in St. Peter's Basilica. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Pope Francis celebrates ordination Mass for new priests in St. Peter’s Basilica. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Earlier this week, Pope Francis ordained 13 new priests, and he took great pains in announcing what he considered their main job to be as clerics: Be merciful.

In his homily, the pope said that he gets upset when he no longer sees people going to confession because people were “scolded” by their confessors, “as if the church doors were closed in their face.”

“Please don’t do this,” the pope told 13 new priests he ordained in the basilica. He used the example of Jesus who never tired of showing mercy to others. Pope Francis said priests should remember that Jesus “didn’t come to condemn but to forgive.” More from Vatican Radio:

He called on the newly ordained to “be aware that you were chosen from among men and established in their favour to attend to the things of God,” to “exercise the priestly work of Christ with joy and sincere charity;” to be intent “on pleasing God, and not yourselves.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily saying, “Have always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, who did not come to …

May 1st, 2014
While the NBA shoots and scores, Congress sits on the sidelines

nba-congress1By last weekend, nearly everyone had heard about the racist rant caught on tape, attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and released by the celebrity gossip outfit TMZ.

Right away, anyone who’s anyone was weighing in on Sterling’s rant. Speaking at a press conference in Malaysia, President Obama lamented that the nation still struggles with issues of race, and said that he had “confidence that the NBA commissioner Adam Silver, a good man, will address this.”

Tuesday, Silver did just that, announcing a lifetime ban on Sterling’s attendance at NBA events, a $2.5 million fine, and that he planned to ask NBA owners to strip Sterling ownership rights.

In total, a mere four days passed from the time the world learned about Sterling’s racist rant and his lifetime ban from the NBA.

The mobilization in public opinion, the swift condemnation from public leaders, and the NBA’s punishment shows that things can still get done in this country.
Why can’t our federal government act with the same urgency and efficiency?

Consider three areas where, despite public outrage and political pressure, there’s been no change in law.

In December 2012, just days after the Sandy Hook shooting that …

April 25th, 2014
Papal Saints John Paul II and John XXIII will be canonized — is Oscar Romero far behind?

saintsinthemaking-v2Upon the death of John Paul II, the chants began in the streets of Rome: “Santo Subito! Santo Subito!” (“Sainthood now!”)

Now a pope doesn’t make a saint willy-nilly; this takes careful deliberation. When the process of making saints began, they were named by acclimation of the people in a particular area. That is why we have names like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Anthony of Padua. When the full population in an area followed the example and began calling a person a saint, it stuck. (Obviously, that kind of system can be abused and actually the Church has gone back and removed some saints from the rolls because they frankly just didn’t measure up.)

John Paul II will be named a saint by Pope Francis. Some would say Francis didn’t wait long enough. Many are still troubled by the number of priest-abusers and abuse-enablers that endangered children on John Paul II’s watch. Others think there are people, even other popes, who are more deserving of sainthood.

Say, for instance, John XXIII, who led the Church by calling for the Second Vatican Council and opening the windows of the Church to let in some fresh air. Aggornamento is the …

April 19th, 2014

Experiencing how good ham can be when it’s not just simply combined with cheese and white bread. #pigUPGRADE

Creative Commons/Wikipedia

Creative Commons/Wikipedia

Sad, non-dyed (or boiled) eggs sulking in the fridge. #sadEGG

Flickr: sotheavy Creative Commons

Flickr: sotheavy Creative Commons

Easter Island confusion! #IslandLiving

Flickr: Arian Zwegers Creative Commons

Flickr: Arian Zwegers Creative Commons

Scary, edible bunnies that terrify children. #ChocolateGuillotine

Flickr: Kathryn Decker Creative Commons

Flickr: Kathryn Decker Creative Commons

Scary, non-edible bunnies that terrify children. #BunnyNightmare

Matt Weber

Matt Weber

Age old debate: Game of Thrones or The Ten Commandments? #MosesLannister #beards


Countless Facebook photos of your friends’ children looking even more adorable! #cuterkids

Matt Weber

Matt Weber

Flickr: Justin Barton Creative Commons

Flickr: Justin Barton Creative Commons

The rare site of a church parking lot that is completely full! #ArriveEARLY

Finding a hidden egg from last year’s Easter egg hunt. #EggsactlyWhereILeftIt

Flickr: M S Creative Commons

Flickr: M S Creative Commons

Giant, festive hats worn proudly! #HAPPYeaster


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