Busted Halo

Practical tools for your personal spiritual life from Phil Fox Rose.

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September 29th, 2011

I often hear people talking about living in the present moment as if it is a struggle, some cosmic game of attempting to grasp something that is fleeting, illusory. They say things like, “the moment I have it, it’s gone.” While this is true and can be frustrating, the last thing present moment awareness is about is grabbing serenity. I have always liked the metaphor of the river (borrowed from my Christian contemplative practice of centering prayer) in talking of the flow of thoughts. Imagine the stream of consciousness as a river, with boats and debris representing thoughts. You’re sitting on the bank of the river watching it. Normal awareness has you looking at each individual boat-thought, following it down the river with your eyes — and to strain the metaphor, getting on it and opening hatches — then suddenly shifting your awareness to another boat and so on. If your mind is particularly cluttered, you can feel overwhelmed by all the boats you have to look at and it can feel like that classic I Love Lucy skit with the conveyor belt at the chocolate factory, like you’re falling behind and they start slipping by. There can be a sense of panic that a thought that’s getting past you without attention is important and you’re missing it.

Present moment awareness is simply sitting on the bank and watching the river, not the boats. Boats cross your field of vision and you do see them, but you don’t follow them with your eyes or get on them. They’re not out of focus, but you don’t focus on them.

September 28th, 2011
Reconciling prayers of petition with the idea of God's Will

When we speak to God are we affecting His plans? Are we influencing the future? And if not, why do we persist in asking God to listen to our wishes? The most thoughtful people I know can’t help wondering.
Jesus taught his disciples to ask in prayer for specific blessings: for our daily bread; to forgive our transgressions; to help us in some way against temptation; and to deliver us from evil. But it feels less appropriate to turn our prayers into a wish list of our own desires, or a memo to God on improving his management style. Asking God to bring about something specific for me — a new job, acceptance to a school, approval for a mortgage – seems downright cheesy.
Even asking for good things to happen for other…

September 27th, 2011
Reconciling MTV, Pop Culture, and Catholic Values

I’ll admit it, I watch the “Jersey Shore.” I’m addicted to the antics of The Situation, the lovable Pauly D, and overly coiffed Snooki. I count down the hours every week to 11:35 Friday morning Central European time, right after the Shore airs in the United States, and I can finally finagle streaming the show overseas to my Berlin kitchen table. But while there is no disputing the bronzed bunch’s unexpected pop culture success, I often find myself wondering if their antics are something I should fill my head with.
How much do things I see on the show affect me? When Pauly D and The Situation bring home girls to the “Smush Room” every night, is there a point where this ceases to shock and instead becomes…

September 26th, 2011

Tekiah Shevarim Teruah…
It was a Saturday morning in New York City, in a class taught by Rebbetzin Harris, that the meaning of Rosh Hashanah became so extraordinary to me. I always remembered Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, as a holiday that my Russian Jewish family celebrated with a sense of patriotism, if one could have patriotism for a religion. The cognac and the dancing till the wee hours of the night contributed to the joy of this day. But that’s how us Russian Jews do it. Ignore the shrimp and lobster on the table or the dirty Russian jokes and Rosh Hashanah was, and will always be, a very special day in our family and in our hearts, even if we don’t know what it is we’re celebrating.
In Judaism, Rosh Hashanah

September 22nd, 2011

Let’s get one thing clear: I like the taste of meat. I like double bacon cheeseburgers. I like steak so rare it moos. On Thanksgiving I want turkey, on Christmas I want ham, and on my father’s birthday I want meatballs made from my family’s off-the-boat-from-Sicily recipe, so good they take five hours to make and five minutes to eat. So imagine my family’s reaction when I came home for Mardi Gras break my freshman year of college and announced that I was giving up meat for Lent and possibly forever.
“Oh, God,… Beth,” said my mom.
“More veal for me!” said my younger brother.
“[Expletive],” said my older brother.
“What are they teaching you at that school?” said my dad.
“That school” was a Jesuit

September 21st, 2011

As a recent college graduate, I know a thing or 12 about doubt.
There are plenty of reasons for that. I spent the last four years working toward a degree in theological studies. I don’t know if I’m looking at the wrong numbers, but statistics seem to indicate that theologians are prone to reaping spiritual and intellectual rewards far more often than they are financial gains. Which is great, but still.
I’m also weeks away from embarking on a six-month trip to Vietnam, something that was inspired by a three-week trip I took there last summer with a group from school. On paper, it’s totally the kind of thing that makes me swoon — one of my friends and I will spend six months hopping around Southeast Asia, relying…

September 19th, 2011

“I actually enjoyed unemployment.”
I don’t remember who said this to me, but I do remember agreeing. It seems strange to enjoy an unwanted thing, but I agreed because not every part of it was unwanted.
I came to Chicago in 2007, fresh out of college and brimming with idealism. I was going to save the world and do two years of a faith-based service program, teaching high school English on the south side of Chicago. Sure, it wasn’t the most financially sound decision ($100/month really does mean another day another dollar — or three), but what did that matter? All I needed was a noble cause to feed my praxis-hungry undergraduate mind.
2010: I am very much in love with these teenage girls, even if my classroom…

September 16th, 2011

Here we go, it’s just about fall, and that means it’s football time. College football is quickly becoming the new religion in this country, and there are those who live and die by the success or failure of their beloved football teams. Thousands upon thousands of “parishioners” attend football services every Saturday during the fall, not to bow at the altar, but to stand in the bleachers and cheer on their personal saviors who believe they can lead their team to the promised land of a national championship. Having personally witnessed this strange worship as an alumnus and employee of the University of Notre Dame, I have become acutely aware of the mix of spirituality and college football that I believe…

September 15th, 2011

My last column, about waiting patiently for a late bus, provoked some interesting comments and reactions (on the site and directly) that tease out the bigger issues involved. While I wrote about waiting for someone who’s late, two commenters brought up the flipside of the same time management coin — what to do when you’re going to be late yourself through no fault of your own. Fellow Busted Halo contributor Ginny Moyer wrote…

September 14th, 2011

Imagine doing everything required to go back to school — buying books and school supplies, and signing up for classes — but instead of everything being a familiar routine, it’s all new because you’re in a new country where you don’t speak the language. Maybe you’ve never been to school. Sounds a little overwhelming, right? Well, that’s the experience of the 53,000 refugees that resettled in the United States in 2010.
For the past year I worked with refugees from Asia and Africa at Catholic Charities’ Immigration and Refugee Assistance Program in Buffalo, New York. Part of my job was to help refugees register their children for school because very few of them could speak, read, or write…

September 13th, 2011

The poet W.H. Auden said, “Civilizations should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.”
Indeed, civilizations are made or lost based on the amount of togetherness people work at having and keeping. Unity is a quality we all desire — especially in the church. But even there, with a God who wants us all to be unified, it doesn’t stick around very long.
The simple definition of unity is “the state of being one; oneness; the state of being of one mind or feeling, as in harmony or agreement.” We’ve grown up with the image of the ideal, thinking when we find the perfect mate, elect the perfect official, or do the best for our community everyone will be happy and content.…

September 12th, 2011

Mary was very perplexing to me before I became a Catholic. She was like some unnamed bird that I could not see and did not know, perching in a tree nearby. I knew she was there — I also knew she was important to some people, but I had no idea why.
Even after coming into the Church, I struggled with my beliefs about Mary: Did I believe in the Virgin Birth? Was that even important? Wasn’t it odd that the Church insisted on Mary’s continued virginity (poor Joseph!) when the Bible clearly represents Jesus as having brothers and sisters? Was she some kind of holy gal I could never emulate or was she more powerful, more funky and more earthy than I could possibly imagine?
I didn’t come to Mary until the tires…

September 10th, 2011

I probably shouldn’t say this, but I REALLY do not like the Sunday Gospel… the one where Jesus says that you have to forgive “not seven times but seventy-seven times.“  I think today, I’d rather read a Gospel like Luke 17:1, where Jesus says, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” …
A question that has been asked of a lot of people over the past few days is, “Where were you ten years ago today?” I was walking into work—with a cup of Dunkin Donuts in my hand—and without having heard what was

September 8th, 2011

At 13, I walked the halls of my middle school proudly as the smart Egyptian girl who brought in stuffed grape leaves for lunch and baklava for dessert. Like most teens, I was still trying to figure out what it meant to be “me” as I navigated the awkward early years of my teenage life.
I grew up in Deltona, Florida, where I was one of a handful of Muslims in the city. That being said, I was known as the “token Muslim.” I felt happy and comfortable being a commodity while most people were still just trying to fit in. At some point I realized I could never fully assimilate, no matter how many shirts I bought from Aéropostale or Limited Too. I would never be cool, but that was ok. I embraced my differences and tried to be a good…

September 7th, 2011

The first picture I ever saw of Father Mychal Judge was a photo of his dead body. In the days following 9/11, I was haunted by the image of four men carrying the New York City fire department chaplain away from the Twin Towers. With the firefighters he served, Judge answered the calls for help, only to lose his life at Ground Zero. He was the first registered death of 9/11.

At first, I saw him as a tragic figure, a searing example of this country’s wounds. Since learning about his life, though, my perspective has shifted. Now I see him as a symbol of compassion, a vivid example of what it means to heal and be healed.

September 2nd, 2011
A Prayer for Labor Day

Lord, we see our neighbors hurting as they lose their jobs to layoffs and plant closings and their homes to foreclosure. We pray that in the midst of turmoil, they feel your presence.
Lord of compassion, hear our prayer
Lord, our elected officials are seeking solutions to this economic crisis; let them not forget workers, who through the sweat of their brows, keep this country going.
Lord of compassion, hear our prayer
Lord, as we face the uncertain future, give us the spirit of integrity, that we would hold up those who are in severe distress, as we are all your children and made in the image of God.
Lord of compassion, hear our prayer
Lord, we pray for employers that they would not bow to idols in the worship of wealth,

September 1st, 2011
Standing With the Unemployed in Faith, Hope, and Solidarity

God calls us to announce the good news of God’s preferential option for the poor, for those who suffer the most among us. Indeed God’s love enfolds the entire human community equally and unceasingly, but it is with those who endure hardship that the Holy Spirit swells up foremost. And it is among them that we are called to stand in faith and solidarity.

August 30th, 2011

Facebook and I are not friends at the moment. We’ve been good acquaintances for years, overall no major qualms. If I had to classify us on Facebook, I’d say we’re “In an open relationship.” I don’t want any kind of serious or committed relationship with it lest I become a serious addict.
Earlier this year Facebook viciously turned on me, throwing me into an incredibly awkward situation. I have this friend, let’s call him Boy Z. We were flirtatious co-workers with the worst of timing. He had a girlfriend. Then I moved to Germany for nine months. Then he decided to major in computer science and never see the light of day. But senior year fates swung in our favor. Both back in the same country, both newly single,…

August 29th, 2011
Developing a Spirit-centered approach to service

For my first few years as a librarian, I felt richly rewarded, a shining star of helpfulness. In a nutshell, I get paid to give people advice when they ask me for help, and then they thank me. Smart! Altruistic! Serving the public! What’s not to love? As my younger brother said when I first got the job, “Well, Anne, you do love to tell people what to do.” But after a few years, the unrewarding aspects of the work began to overshadow the more enjoyable ones.
Some people dismissed my advice. Some were rude. Troubled souls came to me with problems a librarian couldn’t solve. At times, I felt like the public wanted to tear me into pieces and chew me up. I had panic attacks and migraines. I took a lot of sick…

August 26th, 2011

What Not To Pack:
1. Your judgments:
You’ll find that some of your professors and classmates have a completely different perspective about political, social, religious, or spiritual issues than you do. While your reaction might be to dismiss these ideas as incorrect or misguided, remember that there’s a good chance that those who hold these different viewpoints feel the same way. So, take the time to really listen to people’s opinions — more likely than not, you’ll find some common ground, and learn something new.
2. Your bad habits:
This is the perfect time to get rid of all those negative routines you’ve been clinging to. Whether you’re addicted to nail biting, Cheeto-binging, or procrastinating,

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