Busted Halo

Caitlin Kennell Kim, seminary grad, baby wrangler, ordinary radical, writes about the life of a convert in the Catholic Church and explores how faith and everyday life intersect.

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April 11th, 2014
A companion for the Stations of the Cross if you are struggling with your health
Busted Halo Family,

I write this companion for the Stations of the Cross as I begin my wait for a kidney transplant. I am blessed to feel healthy, energetic and very optimistic. Meditating on the Stations has been especially fruitful for me this Lent. I wanted to write a version for those going through a difficult time with their health. If your way of sorrow does not include illness, I hope these Stations will help you find your own words to draw nearer to Jesus in a time of uncertainty.

Have a blessed Lent and Godspeed to you on your journey,


Opening Prayer

Jesus, today I accompany you on your Via Dolorosa — your way of sorrow. You walked this way of sorrow for me. Out of boundless love for all humankind you suffered and died. Lord, forgive me. I know that the weight you bear is not only that of the cross but of my sins. By meditating on your Via Dolorosa, I desire a spirit of repentance.

Lord, I am walking my own way of sorrow. I am ill. My body is failing me. I am afraid. Walk with me, Jesus. You will never abandon me. By …

April 10th, 2014

sxsw-vanessaEven though I have an admitted issue with ever expanding technologies, I went to a SXSW Interactive party with Brandon last year. Instead of finding people interested in making a buck or talking about the latest microchip processor, I found people using technology for social good. I engaged in conversations about orphans in India and the difficulty of reaching teens about faith. I discussed things I didn’t think I would have with techies. I was hooked.

This year I was lucky enough to go to SXSW Interactive where I met lots of different people, I listened to lots of ideas, and I took lots of notes. If you have any preconceived image of a modern day techie, pitch it out the window. I felt pretty un-fashion-forward. Most around me had beautiful leather satchels carrying the latest and sleekest laptop with acid wash skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses peeking through their swooshy bangs. After I stopped ogling laptop bags, I started listening to what people had to say.

Even though I met lots of different people from all over the world working in many different professions, it was clear the 20- and 30-somethings were mostly coming from the same place. …

April 4th, 2014
A review of Darren Aronofsky's latest film and tips for watching and reflecting on it

Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe star in a scene from the movie "Noah." (CNS photo/Paramount)

Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe star in a scene from the movie “Noah.” (CNS photo/Paramount)

With Darren Aronofsky’s Noah out in theaters, one of the major questions that’s been floating around is: Is the film accurate? The answer, honestly, depends on what you define as “accurate.” The film gets quite a few biblical details wrong (and adds plenty of its own dramatic tweaks and twists, though that sort of thing has come to be accepted for pretty much any film adaptation nowadays), but understanding the overall accuracy of Noah begs a larger question: How do we interpret the story of Noah and the Flood in the first place?

To start, yes — there is historical basis for the story of Noah, at least on the flood front. However, it is merely basis, as Catholics consider the tale to originate from an ancient rhetorical style that commonly employed myth, emphasis, and embellishment to explain certain truths. Noah’s “Great Flood” is not the only story to use this pattern, as many mythological traditions include details about such a flood — the Epic of Ziusudra, the Epic of Atrahasis, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. This mythological background, of course, is where the story …

April 4th, 2014
40 Days Searching for the Sound of Silence

Con algunos amigos peruanos.

Con algunos amigos peruanos.

My decision to commit to praying in silence for 10-15 minutes each day seemed pretty simple. In the weeks leading up to Lent, I was overwhelmed by words, both others’ and my own. I felt like I was surrounding myself in noise almost all the time, and I knew I needed to do something deliberate, however insignificant, to address it. No matter how inconsequential or small the stretch of time was, I felt it was a first step in hopefully bringing some peace to the rest of my day and, even more hopefully, going deeper in my spiritual life.

I have been operating under the assumption that this is not a luxury, that it is really not too much to ask in life. In a sense, I still feel that way. I think we all need an occasional moment’s rest, a few seconds in which nothing calls our attention, if only to maintain our sanity.

What I have begun to consider in a new light, however, is that while we who yearn for silence in a modernized society must go against the grain to choose it, many others have no choice at all. For better or …

April 3rd, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

gmailIn writing handwritten notes the past four weeks, I’ve learned a few things:

1. You don’t put links in notes – One distinct difference between writing notes/cards v. writing e-mails is links. I mean — sure, I could jot down the url to that great vegan recipe I tried last night or even a link to this very blog, but it just feels somehow wrong when you’re writing a handwritten note to someone. Not to mention cumbersome. That’s what e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter are for. Handwritten notes are personal. You might even say emotional because they are an expression of how you feel about someone or something that’s happening to someone (birthday, wedding, loss, etc.).

2. This Lenten challenge is brought to you by the Post Office – You know — that place where you go to mail things. I’m not talking about a Google server in North Carolina or another part of the world that’s filtering e-mails. I’m talking about a building in your neighborhood with a flag waving outside and people wearing Post Office uniforms inside. A place where — at least in New York City — there is always a line. Mark my words, it might …

April 3rd, 2014
The role young adults can play in addressing the great challenges facing society today

U.S. bishops celebrate Mass at border fence in Nogales, Arizona. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

U.S. bishops celebrate Mass at border fence in Nogales, Arizona. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Last weekend, more than 100 students gathered at St. Clement Parish in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. Representing Catholic campus ministry centers from colleges and universities throughout the United States — Catholic, private, and public — these students were wrapping up a year of leadership training and faith formation as participants in ESTEEM (Engaging Students to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission), a project of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management and the St. Thomas More Catholic Center at Yale University.

The students spend their ESTEEM year attending workshops, small group sessions, retreats, and engaged in service opportunities. They read church documents on a range of subjects in order to become familiar with how the church operates, from the structure of the Vatican, to how bishops run dioceses, to the role of parish councils. The idea is that when students graduate and leave their vibrant campus ministry centers, they should feel empowered to take on leadership positions in their parishes. As Kerry Robinson, my colleague at the Leadership Roundtable, says, students should feel ready to be the church they want to see.
When students were given the …

April 2nd, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

typing-296047_1920I’ve always admired people who read books on buses. I’m an avid window gazer, so I’m often lost in my thoughts, staring at the scenery going by. And, to be honest, I’ve never been much of a reader. When I see someone reading on a bus, I often think: I should be doing that. There’s something about their apparent habit that is committed to self-growth. Instead of doing nothing, they’re doing something. Something worthwhile.

Earlier this week, I stopped by our IT department for a one-on-one software help session. After the session, the IT employee and I began to make small talk about Macs versus PCs and where we think the future of technology is going. He talked about how he remembers when having a laptop was cutting-edge, and now, laptops are becoming obsolete. Obsolete?! I was surprised by how quickly I became protective of my laptop. “Everything is becoming phones and tablets,” he said. “But what about typing?” I demanded. “People are more interested in consuming these days, not producing,” he replied.

The phenomenon he was referring to is that we have become avid consumers of online … anything: Candy Crush, Farmville, iTunes, surfing the web, viral Youtube videos, …

March 27th, 2014
President Obama’s trip to the Vatican is a coming home of sorts

President Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

President Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

As President Obama and Pope Francis lock eyes for the first time, I imagine that the pope’s pastoral presence has brought back many memories for our country’s Commander in Chief.

What most people don’t know is that while the president is not a Catholic in terms of religious denomination, he was certainly steeped in the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching in his early days as a community organizer in Chicago. Those days shaped most of his political social thought as well as his religious outlook. Take this quote from President Obama’s commencement address to graduates at Notre Dame in 2009:

And something else happened during the time I spent in those neighborhoods. Perhaps because the church folks I worked with were so welcoming and understanding; perhaps because they invited me to their services and sang with me from their hymnals; perhaps because I witnessed all of the good works their faith inspired them to perform, I found myself drawn — not just to work with the church, but to be in the church. It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.

This all …

March 26th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast
The College Church on Saint Louis University's campus, where my love for Jesuit spirituality developed.

The College Church on Saint Louis University’s campus, where my love for Jesuit spirituality developed.

I love the Jesuits. I’m quite outspoken about this love, in fact. I often refer to myself as a “Jesuette,” a Jesuit cheerleader.

I’ve always liked the idea of taking something on during Lent (in addition to giving something up), and this year, I decided to both give up Facebook and take on deepening my relationship with God. Given my deep love for the Jesuits, it comes as no surprise that when I decided to work on my relationship with God during Lent, I turned to a dear friend, who is a Jesuit. After hearing where I’m at with God and where I’d like to be, my friend lent me his copy of the Spiritual Exercises. To be honest, I was quite touched. For a Jesuit to lend his personal copy of the Spiritual Exercises — that’s a pretty big deal, at least to me. I know he did it because he’s my friend, but still.

I’ve been working through the exercises each day, and in a way, I feel as if I’m going through them with my friend, too. His notes in the margins, …

March 25th, 2014

caitlin-doorknobLast Wednesday was the Feast of St. Joseph. Truth be told, St. Joseph is a favorite of mine. As the priest who lovingly shepherded me into the Church is fond of saying, “St. Joseph’s wife was conceived without sin, his adopted son was, well, God … and then there’s good ‘ol Joe.” In the light of the aforementioned company, he seems terribly ordinary. Even unimportant. And this is why I love him.

St. Joseph gets zero spoken lines in the entire Gospel. Zippo. We never hear his voice. He does not get a Magnificat. He is a manual laborer — an “average Joe” with an extraordinary family. He is visited by angelic messengers but only in his dreams and only to receive marching orders from on high. His death comes and goes without mention. He has a supporting role in the narrative of salvation.

This year we marked his feast by papering the fridge with coloring pages of Joseph with the child Jesus perched on his work bench. We made him a small altar in the dining room. My husband had to work late for the second evening in a row and the hours passed rather uneventfully. As …

March 20th, 2014

It seems as though the old adage is true and actions do indeed speak louder than words. Pope Francis’s deed of washing, drying and kissing the feet of 12 inmates last year on Holy Thursday has edged out his famous “Who am I to judge?” quote to become the official winner of Francis Madness. Thanks for participating. If you still feel a little Francis fever, feel free to continue down memory lane by clicking here to review the first round of Francis Madness that includes a short description of each of these wonderful words and works.

And to see the results and stats of all the match-ups, just scroll below here under the bracket to see how the quotes, acts and deeds all fared against each other…

[+] Enlarge

francismadness-round6-flash-aOn Holy Thursday when Pope Francis washed, dried and kissed the feet of 12 inmates (2 Muslim, 2 women) at Casal del Marmo jail, a juvenile detention center.
































March 19th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

lenten-oppositionAt the two-week mark I’m facing the toughest “opposition” to my Lenten challenge of writing 40 notes to 40 people in 40 days. It’s me v. the clock. In other words, my opposition is time.

Work. Volunteering. Writing — three pages every day, I hope. Church. Social life. Pilates. Being a wife, daughter, sister, “aunt”/godparent, and friend. Housework — yes, that most thankless of tasks, but definitely takes up time. Cooking/meal prep — because it’s healthier if I make my own meals and skip take-out, right? Maybe a little more work or volunteering or church.

These things all take time. And there’s not a whole lot more time left when they are all done. So, you can see how sending handwritten notes might quickly (or in two weeks) turn from spiritual practice into “chore.”

I was hovering somewhere between those two after waking up Monday morning with some serious jet lag from travel to the West Coast. The chore mentality was creeping in.

Then, I began another spiritual practice to avoid the complete and total demise of what I want to be a meaningful Lenten discipline. I took a deep breath. I started breathing — really breathing and noticing my …

March 16th, 2014
St. Patrick depicted in a stained-glass window at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

St. Patrick depicted in a stained-glass window at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

This is not a myth. My story is not legend. In fact, it is a cold hard fact that is backed up with unassailable proof in the form of a YouTube video. What I am about to share may shock you — in fact, some may think this story living proof of the dogged spirit of St. Patrick alive and well in Celtic New England. Before I get ahead of myself and explain exactly what happened, let’s first review our St. Patrick history.

We all know St. Patrick was from Ireland. He was a bishop, carried a staff, and according to many pictures, he wore green. Aside from being a popular Catholic saint across the world, legend has it that he was a talented exterminator. Yes, our beloved bishop banished all snakes from Ireland. According to the legend of Wikipedia, “St. Patrick [chased] them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill.”

Here’s where I come in. As a child of Irish Americans growing up in a largely …

March 14th, 2014

ireland4Having graduated from Notre Dame, I’ve spent years sporting shirts that say: Go Irish! I have proudly flown their flag, I love Irish dance, and I appreciate a stout Irish ale. I don’t know much, though, about real Irish culture. One year, I took a bus with a friend to Chicago. We arrived to find the city packed with people who were covered head to toe in green. It was St. Patrick’s Day.

If you’ve never seen the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade, it is something to behold. People are decked out in green wigs, green beads, green face paint, green everything. They even dye the Chicago River green for the occasion. My friend and I ducked into a pub to enjoy a nice green beer as we sat and watched people stumble toward the parade route. I am sure that the parade-goers we were watching had started their day at 7 a.m. with a power hour, toasting each drink to St. Patrick.

This year, I finally decided to get an answer to the question: How do the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Our friend Martin Fogarty was kind enough to let me interrogate him about Irish customs. …

March 12th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

Birthday CakeAs I mentioned earlier, this is my second time giving up Facebook for Lent. The first time, it was to prove to myself that I could do it (at all), and this time, I’ve decided to ask deeper questions. One moment that helped me to realize that my work with giving up Facebook was not done happened a few weeks ago, when a met a friend for dinner before class.

We met in the campus food court, and we had a lovely conversation about everything that was going on in our lives, where we hoped to go in the future, and other various topics. I hadn’t seen her for a while, and upon realizing that we both have the same dinner hour, we hugged, parted ways, and promised to get together for dinner again soon.

That night, I got back to my room and went on Facebook. Much to my surprise, there, in the right hand column of my screen, was a notification that today had been her birthday. I was so surprised. I had just seen her hours before. I wrote happy birthday on her wall and sheepishly apologized for spending a good hour or so with her without …

March 11th, 2014
40 Days Searching for the Sound of Silence

Serenity's drawing

Serenity’s drawing

I am beginning to see a recurring theme in my Lenten meditations and reflections: interruption.

Steve pounding on the door could be seen as an interruption. So could a friend arriving at my home and calling my name as I prepared to begin my meditation yesterday.

Disturbances of the peace have happened in a number of small ways. As I indicated in a previous post, I do not take kindly to intrusion. In the past, I have been “that guy” who sends rude social cues to express a desire to leave a conversation I did not want to enter in the first place. Watch out if someone tries to talk to me while I am trying to read, even if I am in a public place where conversing is part and parcel of the territory.

The more I think about it, the more I see how self-centered a way this is of seeing the world and my role in it, as though the most pressing priority for everyone in my vicinity should be to adhere to my very specific and totally subjective rules about proper social etiquette.

What this Lent and some of the disruptions that have come …

March 11th, 2014

Pope Francis prays during his general audience in St. Peter's Square. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Pope Francis prays during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

“A Jesuit named Francis … a little something for everyone,” I texted my colleague who works at a Franciscan University.

I watched as Pope Francis emerged on the balcony last March and bowed his head, asking the crowd to pray for him. I was taken aback at the new Holy Father’s humble gesture. Not only could you hear a pin drop in St. Peter’s Square at that moment, but many of my students were captivated by the event, many of whom aren’t even Catholic.

“I love this ceremony,” said a Jewish student standing near me. “Does the new pope do this every time?”

“We could only hope,” I joked. “No, this is new. Maybe this guy will surprise all of us.”

It indeed has been a whirlwind year since the election of Pope Francis and right out of the gate this new pontiff was full of surprises. Busted Halo® looks back at Pope Francis’ first year and highlights some of the surprises he had in store for the world.

#1 The First Francis 

Never before has there been a pope with the name Francis. Some …

March 10th, 2014

A scene along the Camino.

A scene along the Camino.

It is hard to walk a 500-mile pilgrimage trail without thinking about religion. In 2012 (the year I walked the Camino) 93% of pilgrims who arrived in Santiago reported that their reason for walking was, at least in part, religious.

I was part of that 93%. Having been born Catholic, I knew it would always be part of my past, but I had long been wondering: would it be part of my future?

I realized when I got to the start of the Camino why I was there: to see if exploring faiths other than Catholicism was okay by God. Along The Way, while some non-Catholic pilgrims I met came to appreciate and understand the faith a bit more, I was still unsure of its role in my life. I had many conversations with God. (Some call it prayer. Some call it crazy. Whatever you want to call it doesn’t matter to me.) I was reminded me that he loves all of us, no matter what building we choose to go to (or not) on Sundays. No matter which words we utter repeatedly whether in prayer or song. No matter what we do …

March 6th, 2014

The U.S. Capitol (CNS photo/James Lawler Duggan, Reuters)

The U.S. Capitol (CNS photo/James Lawler Duggan, Reuters)

This week in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as president, the last time the event was held in March. It was the first of four inaugurations for FDR, the one during which he uttered the now famous “The only thing we have to fear is … fear itself” line.
The next day, he declared a four-day banking holiday to prevent people from cashing out their accounts and convened a special session of Congress and launched the New Deal.

Eventually, New Deal legislation would unleash the bulk of the modern social safety net in the United States. The Works Progress Administration gave jobs to unemployed Americans to build post offices, bridges, parks, and schools. The National Labor Relations Board was established to give workers a voice in the halls of power. And the Social Security Act ensured Americans would not be destitute in their old age and provided unemployment insurance to those without jobs. Today, half of all Americans over 65 would live in poverty without Social Security.

The New Deal legacy endures today, but its core is under attack from all sides.

Rep. Paul Ryan introduced the GOP House budget this …

March 4th, 2014

Pope Francis blesses a child during a meeting with members of the Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis blesses a child during a meeting with members of the Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis wrote a letter to all of us, that is, each family — asking for prayers for October’s Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The synod (group of church leaders) is being convened to discuss “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization.”

In short, this will be a large meeting where Catholic bishops from all over the world will gather to discuss matters relating to families. As the pope put it in his letter, “This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church.” [emphasis added]

The issues discussed in October may be weighty. Specifically the Synod may have much to say about being more pastorally present to those who are divorced and remarried and wish to remain Catholic but feel unwelcome in the Church. Annulment proceedings …

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