Busted Halo

Follow along as Busted Halo® correspondent Mark Irons & Paulist seminarian Jimmy Hsu, CSP, bring you reflections, videos, photos and more from the front lines of World Youth Day in Rio!

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July 27th, 2013

What is your vocation? No, I’m not asking where you went on your summer trip, but rather what is God inviting you to do? At World Youth Day, a big focus has been on the exploration of religious vocations, whether one is called to be a priest, brother, or nun. We spoke to some pilgrims who had questions about the call, and got responses from those who have already answered theirs. In the process we had a lot of fun, and assured one pilgrim you don’t have to fit a certain mold to bring great glory to God.…

July 26th, 2013
Returning from college after graduation to a new place and making it home

home-with-parents2Now that I have graduated from college (woot woot) without yet landing a solid job, I don’t know what to do with myself. It makes me dread these summer months. To add an even greater degree of difficulty, I am dealing with all these feelings of unemployment and uncertainty in a new home, in a new city, in a new state. While this might have the makings of a great and exciting summer adventure, when my dad and mom picked me up from the airport in Austin, I was not ready to embrace those positive feelings. I only experienced feelings of strangeness. I was on some sort of vacation at my parents’ new house, which just felt uncomfortable.

Beaming, they took my twin brother — who had already been home for a week — and me to one of their favorite restaurants on Lake Travis. It was beautiful and the food was delicious, but it still did not feel like home. Of course my dad was eager to show me around the place he so easily and genuinely calls home. The next morning he took me to Mount Bonnell, a beautiful mountain with breathtaking views of the Austin …

July 25th, 2013

It would be hard to find a place on earth that better showcases the unity of the Catholic Church than here at World Youth Day. Hundreds of thousands of young people, all different, yet united by their faith, have gathered together here. Imagine a huge amount of Catholics coming together to worship at Mass. Now imagine them representing their countries with pride and talking about what faith is like back home. Finally, throw in a four mile beach that serves as the church. Ok, now stop imagining and watch it all right now!…

July 25th, 2013

President Barack Obama talks about the Trayvon Martin case at the White House. (CNS photo/Larry Downing, Reuters)

President Barack Obama talks about the Trayvon Martin case at the White House. (CNS photo/Larry Downing, Reuters)

I was at a restaurant in the H Street corridor, a so-called up-and-coming neighborhood in northeast Washington, D.C., a couple weekends ago. Edison bulbs hung from the ceiling. Diners enjoyed 12- and 14-dollar artisanal drinks. Much of the menu consisted of organic, farm-to-table ingredients. At the bar, a group of three white men were drinking when the local Fox affiliate interrupted the Nationals baseball game. The jury in the George Zimmerman trial had reached a verdict. As it was announced that Zimmerman had been found not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the three white guys erupted into cheers. My friend and I paid our bill and left the restaurant. On the walk back to our car, the contrast between the scene inside the restaurant, a mostly white crowd enjoying fairly expensive meals, to the still transitioning neighborhood, home to mainly low-income minorities, was stark.

Over the past several days, the response to the Zimmerman verdict has included protests in major U.S. cities, countless editorials and blog posts, and even a reflection by President Obama. …

July 24th, 2013

It’s an understatement to say that it has been an absolutely amazing time for us since landing in Rio. Having never traveled to another country, I didn’t know what I should expect, but everything seems to be coming together, as if God was guiding this whole Busted Halo® pilgrimage.

Shortly after we arrived, we found out that the pope was going to drive right past us — and, boy did we get to see him close up! We spoke to a few other young Catholic pilgrims from all over the world about this unique experience. Reflecting on this whole event, it’s hard not to say that God isn’t guiding it with his own hand. Knowing this, I’m filled with confidence and excitement for all that the rest of the week will bring us.…

July 24th, 2013

A Camino pilgrim rests in Burgos, Spain. (CNS photo/Felix Ordonez, Reuters)

A Camino pilgrim rests in Burgos, Spain. (CNS photo/Felix Ordonez, Reuters)

“Did you go with anyone?” she asked. I was at a Camino talk hosted by our local chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino. Future pilgrims come not just to hear the presentation, but to ask their questions to those of us that have been there.

“No, I went alone,” I told her.

“Really? You went to Spain to walk 500 miles all by yourself?”

Yes, indeed I did. From the moment I decided I would walk the Camino I knew I’d do it alone. Some people considered joining me, and if it was meant to be it would have worked out that way, but it didn’t. I tell most people I highly recommend doing your first Camino all by yourself. Here’s why:

I could stop wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.…

July 23rd, 2013

music-inthe-moment3
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.” — Plato

Live music has always been an important part of our summers. It began when my wife and I were college students in Nashville. We would throw our bags in the car and head up Interstate 65 at a moment’s notice to see an Over the Rhine concert in Clifton, head north to Chicago for a U2 show, travel south to Atlanta to see Pearl Jam, Oasis or REM, and follow our friend Bill Mallonee and his Vigilantes of Love just about anywhere within a 500-mile radius.

I have always found a sense of freedom and wonder in chasing the horizon over open roads; it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I wrote a book about God’s nomadic nature called Holy Nomad.

Today, even with four kids and a world of responsibility, summer means we head out like Jack Kerouac and friends (er, ok, so, maybe more like Clark Griswold and company), en route to sonic bliss. Some of the details are different — our road trip soundtracks that used to begin with John Cusack-High Fidelity-style …

July 22nd, 2013
Will Pope Francis continue with the World Youth Day pilgrimage after Rio?

lastworldyouthday-1I’ve been to two World Youth Day events and they were indeed spectacles. I even dedicated an entire chapter to World Youth Day in my first book, Googling God. These pilgrimages that bring youth and young adults together from all over the world were the brainchild of John Paul II and will probably be what he will be remembered most for as pope. He wanted to bring college students together for a “jamboree style campout” with the pope at the helm. The result was a Pope-as-Rock-Star event that brought hundreds of thousands of young people together from around the globe.

But there is a huge downside to World Youth Day. It costs A LOT of money — for the host diocese to produce and for the individual pilgrim to attend. Travel costs alone often range in the thousands of dollars (or high amount of your currency of choice) for many pilgrims. (World Youth Day in Sydney cost me a pretty penny to travel to in 2008!) The rising costs of World Youth Day may lead Pope Francis to re-think the event in its entirety.

A second thing that I know will bother the pope is the amount of waste …

July 21st, 2013

I often feel like I am trying to recommit myself. Whatever it is — work, relationships, healthier eating, exercise — there’s always room for improvement. Faith is no exception. Have you ever felt inspired to actively live and seek out your faith, but the next minute you feel unmotivated, tired, and ready to throw in the towel? The spiritual journey has been both bumpy and smooth for me. Faith takes discipline. For me it requires a constant recommitment. It’s never too late to hit the path. Instead of tomorrow, now is a great time to start the ultimate journey. It’s a journey in search of God. For better or worse, I decided to pack light and just go. The adventure starts now and it continues down in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day 2013. Come with me. Keep your eyes on the light. Let’s start the journey. …

July 20th, 2013

World Youth Day Rio 2013 is just weeks away. Want a quick catch-up on everything this event has to offer? Check out our latest 2-minute video giving a brief, yet expansive, lesson on what World Youth Day is, where it’s been held, and what exactly happens there.

And Busted Halo® will be right in the middle of the action! Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, will be broadcasting live from Rio on Sirius XM radio. Busted Halo® correspondent Mark Irons and Paulist seminarian Jimmy Hsu, CSP, will bring you videos, photos, personal reflections and more from the front lines of World Youth Day! Who knows — they might even bump into Pope Francis, who is making his first global trip as pope to this year’s World Youth Day! So, follow our WYD RIO blog and tune in to The Busted Halo® Show with Father Dave on Sirius XM satellite radio to keep track of all that’s happening at World Youth Day!

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

July 19th, 2013
Technology at its best and worst in Pacific Rim and the world today

pacific-rimIn Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, we see the world attacked by alien creatures called the kaiju (Japanese for “giant monsters”), which arrive through an interdimensional portal in the Pacific Ocean. In response to the kaiju assault, humanity responds by banding together internationally and inventing the jaegers, giant robots named after the German word for “hunter.” As protagonist Raleigh Becket admits in the movie, “to fight monsters, we created monsters.”

Why this classification, though? What is it that makes the jaegers just as monstrous as the creatures they were built to destroy? It appears that their danger lies in the way they appear to represent technology out of control. In the first few minutes of the film, it is revealed that early jaegers were intended to be piloted by only one human, but people were injured and possibly even killed by the process that linked them to the machines, thus leading to the invention of a two pilot system. But even this was risky, we learn, because it involved a practice known as “the drift,” by which the two pilots would link their thoughts, and essentially be inside each other’s minds. This could prove deadly to the pilots or to …

July 18th, 2013
With his humble ways attracting attention from all corners, Pope Francis is a celebrity in the secular world.

Pope Francis waves from a car during his visit to Castel Gandolfo, Italy. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters).

Pope Francis waves from a car during his visit to Castel Gandolfo, Italy. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters).

“The atmosphere was almost neighborly” when he spoke to the crowd in “a more conversational tone,” like a “universal leader.”

These quotes may sound like they describe a politician angling for votes. However, they are actually about the Catholic Church’s newest celebrity: Pope Francis.

But the pope is definitely not a typical celebrity. One of the main reasons is that rather than embracing his fame like a teen starlet, he has downplayed his actions. When choosing his new Popemobile, for example, he followed his advice to priests to use “more humble” vehicles and selected a 2008 Ford Focus. This was no publicity stunt- for Francis it’s just another way to be “Pope Everyman,” standing in solidarity with many poor and middle-class Catholics.

Since his election, the pope has become universally beloved for his simple message of outreach to the poor. His embrace by religious media is not surprising — it’s the job of magazines like America and Commonweal to cover the pope. What is striking, however, is the support for him from secular media; many magazines have written glowing articles about Francis since …

July 18th, 2013
My visit to a cathedral in Toledo, Spain, didn’t inspire admiration so much as a crisis of faith.

toledocathedral-12For Americans, visiting Europe has been a rite of passage since well before even Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad. And given the number of significant old cathedrals on the continent, Eurotours inevitably include churches we visit more as museums than as places of faith.

Ten years ago, I found myself on such a tour in Toledo, Spain. At Toledo’s very center is an enormous cathedral that was once a true seat of power for the Catholic Church. Begun in 1227, it took 250 years to finish this temple of Spain’s establishment religion.

I read about it in James Michener’s 795-page Iberia and went to visit with the book in hand. I went in part as a tourist, but also as an actual (if slightly disenchanted) twentysomething Catholic.

Walking in, I felt the Spanish sunlight immediately shut off behind me. The ceiling loomed nearly 150 feet above. The far wall stretched almost 500 feet away.

The space intimidated. Its massive size figured in, but so did its contents: joyless Christian iconography, battle and conquest depictions, and marble tombs. I kneeled in a pew but found I couldn’t pray.

Michener used terms like noble, tasteful, rich, beautiful and rewarding to …
July 17th, 2013

Rebecca's writing, maps, and mementos from her walk along the Camino. Photo courtesy of Morack Studios.

Rebecca’s writing, maps, and mementos from her walk along the Camino. Photo courtesy of Morack Studios.

“Tomorrow afternoon we’re going to make journals,” my writing teacher, Elizabeth Hunter, declared. I was at the John C. Campbell Folk School taking a week-long memoir-writing class. Bookmaking had not been part of the class description but my classmates and I took great joy in having something handmade in which to write after our time together was finished.

Eight months later, I prepared to depart for the Camino. I was thinking of how best to document my journey. Store-bought, bound journals weighed quite a bit, specifically their covers. My solution? Only take the guts of a journal: the paper. And upon my return, I could sew the pages into a book, just as I’d learned in that writing class.

A year after my return from the Camino, the pages sat in a ziploc bag, covered in my thoughts and prayers but as yet unbound. Then my friend Lois sent me an e-mail. It contained just one line.

“Unfinished projects drain creative energy.”

I read it and my mouth dropped open. I jotted a quick reply: This is so true! I remembered the relief I …

July 16th, 2013
Hiking in Grand Teton National Park with all God's creatures

A view from Elizabeth's hike in Grand Teton National Park

A view from Elizabeth’s hike in Grand Teton National Park

It was never on my to-do list or my hope-to-do list, but I did it.

A friend and I visited Grand Teton National Park over Memorial Day weekend. I’d never been there before but I have to say it has some of the most beautiful views I have ever encountered. The Grand Teton mountain range stands 7,000 feet above the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A hidden waterfall was running powerfully after a snowy winter season and scenic drives allowed us to see the Grand Tetons from different angles. If you are looking for a vacation destination, I’d recommend this one.

This year has brought a lot of firsts to my life. June 1 marked the first anniversary of my mom’s death. I walked in my first ever half-marathon. Walking 13.1 miles, for someone who is not so physically active, was a challenge but I finished in just under four hours. (My original goal was to be standing after I crossed the finish line — I was!)

I have never been too keen on the idea of getting up close and personal with God’s beautiful creatures (especially bears). Given …
July 11th, 2013

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in a scene from the movie "The Lone Ranger." (CNS photo/Disney)

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in a scene from the movie “The Lone Ranger.” (CNS photo/Disney)

“There come a time, when good man must wear mask.” These words, uttered by Native American guide, friend, and partner Tonto as the introduction to The Lone Ranger, cut straight to the core of the film. In The Lone Ranger, Texas Ranger John Reid responds to the death of his brother by trying to bring the men who killed him to justice. Tonto, however, in favor of protecting not only Reid, but the people he cares about, suggests that in order to do this, he put on a mask, and adopt a new identity — that of the Lone Ranger.

However, by the end of the film, these are not the only reasons that John acts as the Lone Ranger. John is given the choice between accepting a life of fame and prosperity if he removes his mask and renounces the Lone Ranger identity or remaining the Ranger and standing for justice in his own way. Naturally, he chooses to continue with his life as the Lone Ranger. Why leave a charmed life behind, though, to stay a vigilante? And how can we …

July 11th, 2013

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Lampedusa, Italy. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Lampedusa, Italy. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Well, it’s official. Pope Francis is a hit.

Esquire magazine, not exactly an outlet that praises the Catholic Church on a regular basis, highlighted some of the reasons why Francis is so “awesome”:

”He has said that he believes priests should be ‘shepherds with the smell of the sheep’ and he is living that way. He has, pointedly, not moved into the papal apartments, remaining at a cheap hotel where reportedly he eats breakfast with ordinary people. He refuses to take the papal limousine, traveling by minibus instead. More significantly, on Holy Thursday this year, Pope Francis became the first Pope in history to wash the feet of a woman. Not only did he wash the feet of a woman, but that woman was a Muslim. Not only was she a Muslim woman, she was a female inmate at a local prison. He has become famous in Rome as the ‘chatty’ Pope, stopping to embrace children with disabilities.”

Just yesterday, the Italian edition of Vanity Fair chose Francis as its person of the year, noting his humility and authenticity. If that isn’t surprising …

July 9th, 2013
He's not headed to the usual papal vacation destination, but Pope Francis will still make time to chill this summer

francis-staycation-2-finalDespite the stifling Roman heat, Pope Francis is remaining in Vatican City this summer instead of escaping to the usual papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo, a favorite place of his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Pope Francis also recently said that he resides in his present apartment in the Domus Santa Marta for “psychiatric reasons,” prompting many to laugh at the thought that the climate of the Vatican bureaucracy may drive the pope insane.

But the heart of the matter here is what a vacation or time away provides for us. How do we refresh and renew ourselves? Pope Francis has said repeatedly that he needs to be around people and can find himself growing lonely in the grandness of a huge job like the papacy. So, staying nearby with his housemates and friends is in fact how he relaxes best.

And perhaps on our own career-driven paths, we too should think about how we renew ourselves. Is it really necessary to take a lavish vacation to the South of France or a tropical island resort? What do those comforts really provide? Perhaps in the drive to overwork, we also tend to “overplay” in order to trick ourselves into …

July 2nd, 2013
Four Ways to Freedom this Fourth of July

caitlin-freedomHamburgers, hot dogs, sparklers, fireworks, fun with family and friends … that’s what the Fourth of July is all about, right? Well … kind of.

July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. This document declared the independence of a fledgling democracy from imperial rule. It declared that the people living on this continent were claiming the freedom to forge their own destiny as a sovereign nation. Every year Americans gather in backyards, national parks, and other places throughout the country to barbecue, watch fireworks, and celebrate this freedom anew.

In the Catholic Church we have a pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world called Gaudium et Spes. This document, like the great American document we celebrate July 4, declares the necessity of freedom. All human persons must have freedom. Freedom from oppression, slavery, war, poverty, sexism, and all forms of discrimination. In addition to all of the evils from which we must have freedom, the great theological, pastoral, and philosophical thinkers at the helm of the Church advocated that we also must have freedom for excellence — meaning we need to be free (really free) to choose the good with ease and pleasure. …

June 27th, 2013

A man holds a program and U.S. flag during the opening Mass for the Fortnight for Freedom observance at the Baltimore basilica. (CNS photo/Tom McCarthy Jr., Catholic Review)

A man holds a program and U.S. flag during the opening Mass for the Fortnight for Freedom observance at the Baltimore basilica. (CNS photo/Tom McCarthy Jr., Catholic Review)

This summer, Catholic bishops in this country are again devoting the 14 days prior to the Fourth of July to their “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign. These two weeks, they said, will be spent educating Americans about what they see as the government’s infringement on the freedom of religion. As such, it’s also a good time to reexamine how we, as Catholics, contribute to the public square. How do we, as disciples of Jesus, live our faith today?

The campaign, now in its second iteration, is the result of what the bishops view as government involvement into what counts, from an IRS perspective, as ministry. The bishops believe that hospitals, schools, and other church-affiliated social service industries are ministries in themselves. The government has a seemingly more narrow view of ministry, and, for tax and regulatory purposes, has deemed such institutions as ancillary to ministry.

What caused the standoff?

Framing the debate

Part of Obamacare, the term preferred by Democrats over the more sterile “health insurance reform,” includes a mandate that employers, through …

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