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 15th, 2014
Using Disney’s Frozen to talk with kids about the Passion

frozen-holy-weekHere at Casa Kim we have Frozen on the brain. We have the dresses. We have the dolls. We have the entire soundtrack committed to memory and at the ready for a spontaneous all ages, flash mob-style, no holds barred, highly choreographed musical extravaganza. Now that Holy Week is upon us and now that the Pickles Kim are big enough to have serious questions about what this journey from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday is all about, I wanted to find a way to talk with them about the Passion that was 1) age appropriate, 2) would capture their imaginations, and 3) would help them to grow in love for Christ and for each other. This is where Frozen comes in.

Frozen is not, of course, meant to be an exposition on the saving power of the cross. As far as I can tell it’s a clever reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale The Snow Queen. But it has shades and hints of the story of Jesus. What follows are some ideas for conversation starters and activities to try with the little people in your life who might have big questions about what Jesus did for us and what …

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 …

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 3rd, 2014

Are you stumped / confused / intimidated / flat out terrified by Lent? Have no fear! Your favorite convert comes to the rescue with the basics for Lenten newbies and some words of comfort for the journey. If this is your first time observing Lent in the Catholic tradition, it can be tricky. Believe me. I’ve been there. But don’t be intimidated! Lent is about making a good faith effort to be contrite (i.e. truly sorry for your sins) and to be more like Jesus (i.e. loving, just, merciful, willing to give of yourself for others) in anticipation of our celebration of the Resurrection (i.e. Easter). Do your best. Don’t be discouraged if you mess up. It happens. Pick yourself up and try again. After all, our God is the God of second chances.

Lent (just the facts, ma’am)

Lent is a 40-day period of repentance and fasting in preparation for Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday (March 5) and ends on Holy Thursday (April 17). (Yes, sticklers for mathematical accuracy, this adds up to 44 days. Sundays aren’t technically part of Lent.) Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday are referred to as the Easter Triduum.

Practice Abstinence

From …

February 24th, 2014

deactivated2Well, I did it. I deactivated my Facebook account.

Before I launch into my reasons for leaving, I want to make a few things clear. First, I begrudge no one their enjoyment of Facebook. In fact, for the first two years I was home with our gaggle of pickles, and my superhero husband was slaving away at three jobs while working on his comps and dissertation, Facebook allowed me to intellectually engage with other adults in a way that kept me from going, if you’ll pardon the expression, bat crap crazy. Second, I am not now nor will I ever be holier than thou. This is laughable. A real knee-slapper. Third, I don’t think technology is “evil.” I think technology is (for the most part) morally neutral. It can be used for grave evil. It can also be used for the glory of God.

OK, all that being said, I really did deactivate my Facebook page. Let me tell you, it feels AWESOME. As a pilgrim on her journey to sanctification (a journey wrought with more than its fair share of moral failures and spiritual shortcomings), this seems like the right path for me. It might not be the path …

February 4th, 2014

mission_mother-teresaDecember 11, 1979, a diminutive nun in a blue and white habit assumed a grand stage in Oslo, Norway. With a quiet and steady voice, she delivered the following message:

There is so much suffering, so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. It is to God Almighty — how much we do it does not matter, because He is infinite, but how much love we put in that action. How much we do to Him in the person that we are serving.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta spoke these words — to her Norwegian audience and to all the world — in her Nobel Lecture following her acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. She shared her view that peace is not some lofty, unachievable ideal. Instead, she suggested, peace is a reality that we strive for every day in our own homes and in our own communities. Sowing peace does not necessarily involve living amongst the poor in Calcutta or embarking on some other noble …

January 28th, 2014
Thoughts on sexual violence for the Feasts of Saints Agnes and Agatha

agnes1People of God, we need to pray. Hard.

With the joyous signs of Christmas packed away, we find ourselves again in the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. Today we find ourselves between the feasts of two significant early Christian martyrs, St. Agnes (January 21) and St. Agatha (February 5). These young women possessed heroic virtue. These young women laid down their lives for their faith. These young women were survivors of sexual violence.

People of God, in honor of these women, we need to pray.

St. Agnes is a 13-year-old girl born to Christian parents in Rome during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. Agnes is much sought after by suitors of noble stock. When she refuses their advances because she has promised herself — body and soul — to Jesus, they betray her as a Christian. The Roman Prefect Sempronius orders Agnes to be dragged naked through the streets of Rome to a brothel to await her trial. While imprisoned in the brothel, Agnes prays for the son of the prefect (her imprisoner) who has died and the son is brought back to life. Sempronius recuses himself from her trial and Agnes is sentenced to death and martyred by …

January 13th, 2014

seeker-saintToday, January 13, marks the Feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers. (Go ahead and say “Poitiers” a couple of times. It’s delicious. I’ll wait.) St. Hilary was born sometime around the end of the third century in the city of Poitiers in what is now France. The son of pagan parents, he possessed a profound longing to understand the meaning and purpose of human existence. Hilary had an unquenchable desire to contemplate life as a gift and to discover its Giver. His lifelong spiritual journey took him to the great philosophers and he became a Neo-Platonist. By what St. Hilary described as chance, he stumbled upon Sacred Scripture. Within those divinely inspired words, he encountered the Gift-Giver he had been seeking. Along with his wife and daughter, St. Hilary was baptized and received into the Church.

This is not the end of Hilary’s journey. In many ways, this is the beginning. Despite the fact that he was married and despite his ardent protestation to the contrary, he was elected Bishop of Poitiers. With his ordination he was thrust into one of the greatest theological controversies in the history of the Church. He fought tirelessly against the wildly …

December 9th, 2013

A pilgrim carries an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe during celebrations marking her feast day in Mexico City. (CNS photo/Edgard Garrido, Reuters)

A pilgrim carries an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe during celebrations marking her feast day in Mexico City. (CNS photo/Edgard Garrido, Reuters)

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12) is my favorite Marian feast day of the year! (I’m doing my happy dance. While typing. I don’t want to brag but that takes serious skills.) Who is Our Lady of Guadalupe? What does she have to do with Advent? What are some ways to honor her feast day? Your favorite convert and self-proclaimed Marian nerd here with some thoughts on how to grow in faith, make a difference, and have a fiesta worthy of Our Queen!

The Story
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the name of a Church-approved apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which took place in Mexico in December 1531. She appeared on the hill of Tepeyac to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert to Christianity. Juan Diego was on his way to Mass when he heard beautiful music and a woman’s voice calling his name in his native language. He followed the sound to the hillside where he encountered a beautiful Aztec maiden emanating golden light and standing in a cloud upon a crescent …

December 2nd, 2013

A Ukrainian-made angel adorns the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A Ukrainian-made angel adorns the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Having emerged from your tryptophan-induced stupor, you awoke on Friday to the triumphant proclamation that it is Christmas. The TV says so. Every big box retailer in your neighborhood says so. The lights and wreathes and inflatable Santas that appeared like magic overnight say so. To this I say, bah. Humbug!

Ok, here’s the deal: I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas. But it’s not Christmas yet! It’s Advent. Advent is the liturgical season of preparation that proceeds Christmas. New to observing Advent? Your favorite convert gives you the basics to this beautiful season of hope.

A — Advent wreath: Every Catholic church and many Catholic homes display an Advent wreath. This wreath consists of an evergreen wreath, three purple candles, and one rose candle. The candles are lit one by one on the Sundays of Advent and are meant to symbolize Jesus, the Light of the world, coming to dwell among us. The evergreens in a circle represent eternal life. Pine cones or other seed-bearing decorations symbolize resurrection. The purple candles represent prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and the rose candle, lit on …

November 19th, 2013

darknessPicture a 22-year-old Catholic college student. She is studying electrical and mechanical engineering. She has a loving family and many friends. She is pretty and full of life. She wonders hopefully about her future. She is like your friends, classmates, sisters, cousins. She is like you.

Can you see her?

Now picture her forced to hide in a three-by-four-foot bathroom with seven other women. Picture her healthy 115 pound frame whither to a skeletal 65 pounds. Picture her cringe in silent agony and terror as she hears her family, friends, and neighbors brutally murdered outside the bathroom’s thin walls. Picture her breathlessly cling to a rosary as she hears her name called over and over again by the same machete-wielding men who mowed down those she loved most.

Her name is Immaculée Ilibagiza. She is a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide. From April to July of 1994, nearly a million Tutsis — one of the two prominent ethnic groups in the African nation of Rwanda — were killed after the Hutu (the other prominent ethnic group) president was assassinated. The genocide was a fierce campaign of retribution originated by the presidential guard and other military and political officials …

October 31st, 2013

A woman stands near the grave of a relative in Mexico City to celebrate the “Day of the Dead.” (CNS photo)

A woman stands near the grave of a relative in Mexico City to celebrate the “Day of the Dead.” (CNS photo)

In the last two years I lost both of my grandmothers. It is a strange and disconcerting reality being grandmotherless in this world. I feel their absence sharp and deep. As I sit with my grocery list planning meals for a family of six on a budget, I think of my Grammy Mary Louise who had a particular gift of making something out of nothing. When I am running all over the house like a madwoman trying to get ready for company, I think of my Grandma Pat and her effortless, artful hospitality. I think of how for so many years they were a simple phone call away and now — now that I am older, now that I am beginning to understand what it means to be the matriarch of my own little clan, now that I have swallowed my pride and realized that I have so much to learn about, well, everything — they are gone.

Throughout Latin America, in many parts of Europe, and in small pockets across the U.S., this week brings Dia de Los

October 21st, 2013

Young adults gathering in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

Young adults gathering in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

Well, it’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling, everything is suddenly pumpkin-flavored, and the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is starting in parishes all over the world. Whether you’re an inquirer (a person interested in learning more about the Catholic faith), a catechumen (an unbaptized person seeking to receive the sacraments), or a candidate (a baptized person seeking full communion with the Church), here’s a bit of advice from yours truly — a former RCIA participant and Adult Faith Formation parish minister.

1. Invest: Let’s talk about some tools it would be helpful to have on hand as you begin your journey. First, I highly recommend having access to a Catholic edition of the Bible. What’s that, you ask? Don’t all Christians read the SAME Bible? Great questions, you brilliant almost-convert! The short answer is: The Catholic Bible is the Bible that was used exclusively for the first 1,500 years of the Church. In addition to all that you would find in a standard Bible, Catholic editions contain books and chapters of books the …

September 30th, 2013
Or, Everything I know about Adoration I learned from my 2-year-old

guidetoadoration11This year, for the first time ever in Kim family history, the two biggest pickles are in school. (Ok, I’m getting a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.) So, Thursday mornings the two littlest pickles and I have a standing “praydate.” With Jesus. Yep, that’s right. We go to Adoration.

What is Adoration, you ask? Adoration (short for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament) is an opportunity for prayer that happens at almost every parish throughout the world. After each Mass, any consecrated host remaining after the faithful have received the Eucharist is placed in the tabernacle (the gold box on an altar in the sanctuary usually accompanied by a lit candle). During Adoration, the consecrated host (the Body of Christ!) is taken from the tabernacle and placed in a monstrance (a gold case) on the main altar and the community is welcome to come spend time with the Lord in prayer. Some parishes even have a chapel where Adoration happens around the clock!

Adoration is new to me… at least as a weekly spiritual discipline. Here are some important things I’ve learned about Adoration from our second youngest — the 2-year-old — the one who, thanks to her …

September 17th, 2013

A painting of Mary breast feeding the infant Jesus is seen at the Milk Grotto chapel in Bethlehem. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

A painting of Mary breast feeding the infant Jesus is seen at the Milk Grotto chapel in Bethlehem. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

I was waiting to see my doctor for my final post-natal appointment. And, because my doctor is kind of an awesome big deal obstetrical rock-star, I was waiting a long time. A woman and her mother sat down across from me. The mother began to chat with her daughter about a news story she had read about a woman in China who had been issued a warning for breastfeeding while riding a scooter. (I know it’s not polite to eavesdrop. Shame on me. I couldn’t help myself. I had read all of the magazines and I couldn’t watch another minute of early afternoon network television without causing myself serious psychiatric harm.) The daughter laughed. The mother remarked that the worst part of the whole story was that the baby was 18 months old. This, she assured her daughter, was disgusting. Breastfeeding a one and a half year old was the objectionable part of that story … not, you know, racing along on a scooter steering with one hand while holding an infant who was not properly secured.

As a …

September 3rd, 2013

miley-cyrusDear Miley Cyrus (and women in their late-teens/early 20s and the me of several years ago),

Hi. It’s me. At the ripe old age of 30-something, I consider myself to be somewhat of an elder stateswoman in the realm of young adult womanhood. After the debacle that was your performance at last Sunday’s MTV VMA’s (which inundated my Facebook feed on Monday morning, which we didn’t see live because 1) we’re old and don’t watch “the MTV” and 2) we have a gaggle of little people for whom that channel is — part and parcel — utterly inappropriate), I think we need to talk. Like right now.

I know you didn’t ask for my advice. Too bad.

Listen … I get it. You want to be seen as a grown woman. Fair enough. The thing is that I’ve learned some stuff over the past decade or so that might be helpful to you. Some of this knowledge was hard won. I’m trying to give you a leg up, sister. I care about you. And, seeing as how we’re both sojourners on the road to figuring out what it means to be a woman in this world, I want to help …

August 26th, 2013

I want to tell you a story. It’s a story contained in the pages of one of our children’s favorite picture books. It’s a true story. It goes something like this:

Once upon a time (c. 1200 A.D.) in a land far, far away (Italy) there was a town called Gubbio that was plagued by a ravenous wolf. The wolf attacked and devoured not only the animals residing in the town, but also the humans. The people of Gubbio lived in constant fear of the beast and all of their attempts to catch or kill it resulted in more villagers succumbing to the insatiable and terrible jaws of the wolf. One day Francis (St. Francis to you and me), a man renowned for his holiness and kindness, came to stay in the town. He saw that the villagers were held captive within Gubbio’s walls for fear of the wolf. Filled with compassion for them, Francis set out to find the wolf.

The good people of Gubbio begged and pleaded with the friar to stay safe within the walls of the village, but he set out on his way. As Francis left the safety of the village the wolf came bounding …

August 19th, 2013

having-it-all-2The August 12 issue of TIME Magazine features a cover story entitled, “The Childfree Life: When having it all means not having children.” Before this convert explores the values championed in this article relative to a Catholic worldview, she’ll endeavor to give you a brief summary of Lauren Sandler’s exposition on why more and more adults (and, in particular, women) are choosing to remain childfree.

Here we go: “The Childfree Life” examines the rise in the number of American women opting out of motherhood in pursuit of what Sandler calls “a new female archetype, one for whom having it all doesn’t mean having a baby.” The women she interviews express frustration with the constant questions from well-meaning friends and family about why they don’t have kids (a pressure, Sandler posits, that has become exponentially more intense with the advance and increased availability of reproductive technology). They lament the disappearance of their friends with kids into their respective small domestic spheres. They enjoy a life, as one woman puts it, “free from all the contingencies that come with children.” They treasure the opportunity to throw themselves completely into their careers, to travel frequently and on a whim, to spend money on …

August 5th, 2013

not-sleepingThere is a healthy, beautiful newborn baby girl at our house. Glory Alleluia, y’all!

That being said …

Did you know that newborns sleep an average of 16-18 hours a day? Furthermore, have you been apprised of the fact that very few of these hours are consecutive? In addition, are you aware that newborns need to be fed approximately every two hours? (They’re kind of like adorable, significantly less hairy Hobbits in this regard.) Let’s do the math. That’s a lot of getting up at weird hours of the night for the person with the milk (read: me).

I love to sleep. I am (if I may be so bold as to brag) an awesome sleeper. When our first baby was born, the sleeplessness that comes with caring for an infant was a total shock to me … not because no one had ever told me about this delightful aspect of motherhood, but because I had absolutely no practice. I have never had insomnia. I don’t like to stay up late. For all I know a nocturnal tap-dancing mariachi band could have lived in the apartment above mine during my entire graduate school career and I would have been none …

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. …

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