Busted Halo
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July 15th, 2014

I applied to become the leader of my school’s Global Outreach (GO!) project to Quito, Ecuador, on a whim — a whim that took into account neither the fact that I would be responsible for the lives of nine other people in a foreign country, nor any concern that I had never even traveled outside of the state without parental assistance. This whim, however, was connected to an intense desire to serve. The added bonus being the opportunity to help the people in whose culture I had been raised.
As I would later share with my guinea pigs (the endearing title I gave to my team), though I was not born there, Ecuador had always been my motherland. I grew up with the my mother’s stories of living with papito Nicanor in the farmlands…

July 10th, 2014
A reflection on Peter denying Jesus and the modern-day dilemma of identifying as a Catholic

I’m Italian. When this fact comes up, and people respond, “Ohhhh, you’re Italian?” I’m never quite sure what will follow. But usually, it’s something like, “Your mom must be a great cook!” What can I say? It’s true. She makes hundreds of meatballs on her meatball-making day, and they are a-mazing. Generally, the reactions I get to being Italian are favorable, a far cry from what Italian immigrants faced in the past, during times wrought with ethnic discrimination.
However, there are also parts of my identity that are important to me, but not always seen favorably by others. This has been my experience as a Catholic.
I’ve had a complicated relationship with Catholicism, I’ll admit. I grew…

July 9th, 2014

This is a hard article for me to write. It’s about one of the worst things I’ve ever done, or not done, actually. In advance, I want to tell the mother in the story that I’m sorry for being too scared. I’m sorry for being too selfish. I’m sorry for who you lost.
When I was in high school, often I was afraid to rock the boat. I didn’t want to make waves or make anyone mad. So when I heard a girl in one of my classes quietly saying that she was pregnant, I was caught. I knew what I should do, but that didn’t make it appealing.
I am pro-life, in theory at least. But like many people, when I have to sacrifice for my convictions, often I turn away. I was unsure what to say because I hadn’t…

June 11th, 2014

I had never really been a soccer fan. Growing up in the 80s, I played peewee soccer like everyone else in Southern California, but I wasn’t very good. Then the 1994 World Cup came to the United States and soccer mania broke loose. Still, I kept soccer at a healthy distance. As an Italian American I’m sure my relatives across the pond were disappointed and lamented the loss of an opportunity to bond with their American cousin. But I was just not ready for soccer. That would all change in 2002.
Aha Moment #1: Every team has a story…
My brother was studying abroad in Florence, and I went to visit during winter break. While there, I was inundated with soccer memorabilia and fandom. There were soccer jerseys everywhere! Scarves

May 27th, 2014

Recently someone came up to me and asked, “Andy, do you remember me?” Then it happened again a couple weeks later. My memory had to be jogged briefly on both occasions, but each person had remembered me from my time spent at two Jesuit universities in the last few years. I hadn’t seen these people in a while so it was nice to have the chance to chat and catch up. The joy, though, in each encounter was in being remembered.
The act of being remembered makes you feel appreciated and worthy. It’s the same as when someone tells you they were thinking about you the other day or that you came up in conversation. Consider the feeling you get when some past relationship or brief encounter that was sitting…

May 21st, 2014

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matthew 6:24
America’s first two Anglo settlements were Jamestown, Virginia, and Plymouth, Massachusetts. The first was a business founded by the Virginia Company of London that mentioned God in its charter as an afterthought. Plymouth, in contrast, was a group of pilgrims hoping to find spiritual refuge. Since the 1600s, the United States has wrestled between its love of God and money. Unfortunately, today it seems the pursuit of wealth is winning America’s heart while God is becoming more of an afterthought.
Take…

May 13th, 2014

Imagine walking into Sunday Mass and finding an extra 500 people crowded in the pews and spilling into the aisles. No, it’s not Easter. It’s a Mass mob.
The concept is taken from the popular flash mobs that invite strangers via social media (sometimes hundreds, thousands, even millions!) to participate in a group action. Flash mobs range from choreographed dances in public places to marriage proposals.
Mass mobs were created to intentionally invite strangers to attend Mass at a designated church. Beginning in Buffalo last November, Mass mobs have spread across the country to churches in Philadelphia, Cleveland, and most recently Detroit. The Mass mobs in these cities happened in older churches with the…

April 22nd, 2014
Are we focusing on financial freedom at the expense of the poor?

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every [kind of] garden herb, and [yet] disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Luke 11:42)
When some Christians talk about biblical principles in government, they tend to mean something very specific: small government, pro-life, anti-gay marriage, low taxes, government that respects the Christian heritage of the United States and a national law based upon the Bible are the main tenets. Freedom and liberty are considered by many in the American Christian community to be the backbone of the United States. Indeed, these are vital to any free society, but are they…

April 17th, 2014
Connecting an ancient practice of remembrance with the suffering in today's world

On Good Friday, Jesus not only reveals that he is our Savior, but also, more subtly, that he is our Teacher. During his Passion, was he quietly teaching us not to mourn his death specifically, but rather asking us to mourn human suffering in general? Is there even a way to contextualize Christ’s Passion in the 21st century?
Many Catholic Worker communities try to do just that. By designing their own living Stations of the Cross, they attempt to tie Jesus’ Passion intimately to those who suffer in their own neighborhoods, towns and cities, as well as in far-off places in the world.
I’ve participated in the Los Angeles Catholic Worker “Good Friday Stations of the Nonviolent Cross” (which Martin Sheen dutifully…

April 14th, 2014
Reflecting on the Boston Marathon Bombings one year later

Whenever I move to a city, something big seems to happen. When I moved to St. Louis in 2006, the Cardinals won the World Series. When I moved to Chicago, President Obama was elected in 2008 and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. And when I moved to Boston last year, the Red Sox won the World Series. Each of these events united the city I lived in, and I spent much time partying in the streets, as they say.
However, in April 2013, I experienced something that united a city, yet was a tragedy. Not only a tragedy for Boston, but for the entire nation.
The day of the Boston Marathon bombings began as a beautiful day. The sun was shining, and you couldn’t imagine better weather for a marathon. The entire city shut down, and…

April 11th, 2014

When I heard that Fred Phelps was gravely ill, my immediate visceral reaction was sinful in the extreme. My immediate visceral reaction was: good.
I am not proud of this.
If you don’t know, Fred Phelps was the founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, known for its protests of military funerals and its virulent homophobia. Church members, mostly Phelps’ own relatives, celebrated the deaths of American soldiers as acts of divine retribution. They touted signs proclaiming “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for 9/11.” The WBC has made hateful statements about not only homosexuals, but Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and various Protestant denominations.
So it isn’t surprising that Phelps’…

January 22nd, 2014

When I was diagnosed with pericarditis — an inflammation of the fibrous sac around the heart — while volunteering in Peru, the reaction of a number of people surprised me. Until that point, most of my Peruvian friends had demonstrated no medical proclivity whatsoever. Suddenly, I had no shortage of people anxious to share any tidbit of therapeutic information they could.
“You’re lonely,” said some. “You need a girlfriend. Or more male friends.” While I appreciated their concern that I was living with four female roommates, this theory seemed to fall short in explaining how my heart’s membrane swelled to unhealthy proportions.
“You are so skinny,” offered the cooks at the parish…

December 31st, 2013
College football bowl games capture the joy and hope of the holiday season

We are in the midst of a very special season of the year: College Football Bowl Season. Rarely do non-professional sports dominate American culture more than during the slew of college football bowl games that occur around Christmas and the New Year. As a college football fan, I have always enjoyed watching and attending bowl games regardless of who was playing. I’ve often observed bowl games as rather joyful experiences and filled with hope. Regardless of the trials and tribulations of the season, or if each team was playing in their most desired bowl game, teams and players always seem pretty jazzed to be playing in the game. They always give it their all and are dedicated to doing their best to bring home a victory.…

December 12th, 2013
Remembering the hungry during seasons of plenty

It’s difficult to write about hunger. First, hunger isn’t a pleasant topic. It challenges us to ask hard questions about how we meet everyone’s basic human needs. Second, I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said. I could talk about the obscene number of children who go to bed hungry each night. I could talk about the proposed cuts to SNAP benefits (aka food stamps). I could talk about food deserts and lack of access to nutritious foods. I could talk about how healthy food is more expensive than junk food, and many who can’t afford it face health problems like obesity and diabetes. I could talk about how people with disabilities and people who are elderly have disproportionately…

November 19th, 2013

Every year on Thanksgiving, 20 to 30 members of the DeRose clan descend upon one cornucopia-adorned suburban Chicago home for turkey(s), mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Each year on this particular holiday, I am reminded of the many blessings in my life, especially the blessing of family. I am overcome with gratitude for the community and all the chaos that these folks bring to my life. (Roll around with a toddler on the floor for 30 minutes after turkey and two glasses of wine, and you will feel both exhausted and filled with pure joy.)
Many family traditions for Americans mirror my own. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate all that is bountiful in our lives and give thanks for the gifts we are given. It is also a time…

October 29th, 2013
How to avoid compassion fatigue and continue to help those affected by tragedy

It’s been a year since Hurricane Sandy killed 72 Americans and did $65 billion worth of damage to the East Coast, not to mention the lives and property lost in other countries. I’ve never been to the Northeast, where Sandy wrought the bulk (though not all) of her destruction, but I have a pretty good idea of what people up there have been going through for the past 12 months: an endless tug-of-war with insurance companies and contractors, crippling financial hardships, and a whole lot of emotional stress.
For those of us far from the affected areas, it’s easy to forget about natural disasters. Life gets busy, the news cycle moves on, and the stories and images that made us pull out our checkbooks and our rosaries…

October 22nd, 2013

This evening, as I left an Amman café after sharing a croissant with an old friend, I was greeted simultaneously by the echoes of the evening call to prayer and a bright full moon in the fading light.
“Allahu akbar!” called the muezzin, “God is greater!” The moon, perfectly round like a communion wafer, was suspended above the power lines and square, cement rooftops.
At the end of a day which included more joys than I can count, and a month of challenges, including moving, missing family and friends, and settling into life in a new city, I couldn’t help but notice this more-than-coincidental convergence of aural and visual. These two very ordinary events — the call to prayer…

October 10th, 2013

The headlines at the top of the NYTimes.com website today were all about Washington. I noticed one story buried on the page about Syria, and caught myself comparing the government shutdown here to the civil war there. Things are no better off for the Syrian people than they were two weeks ago, but our attention has shifted. Syria’s just so far away.
I remember an evening six or seven years ago when one of my college classes met at our professor’s house for dinner. Somehow the discussion turned into a debate on the war in Iraq. After a few points and counterpoints had been shared, a classmate stopped the argument in its tracks. She said that it was impossible for us to imagine what it meant to live in a war-torn land.…

October 9th, 2013
Different opinions on the controversial new burger topped with a communion wafer

Who doesn’t like a good burger? Well — that depends on who you ask and in this case, what the toppings are. A Chicago restaurant called Kuma’s Corner is serving up a new menu item this month called a “Ghost Burger.” It’s a 10-ounce patty topped with an unconsecrated communion wafer and red wine reduction sauce. Sounds a little bit like…Hey wait a minute! The burger was created to honor the Swedish band Ghost and has stirred up some controversy. Louis Sullivan, Busted Halo Intern and Contributor, and Fr. Steven Bell, CSP, Busted Halo Associate Director, weigh in on the question: Is Kuma’s Corner Ghost Burger offensive?
Louis Sullivan:… Personally, I don’t have a problem with the Ghost

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