Busted Halo
Features : Religion & Spirituality
August 13th, 2004
The sacraments, the internet and the wisdom of Andy Warhol

Supposedly, Andy Warhol once said that sex and parties were the only two events where you actually had to be there.
For a long time I’ve been wondering—are sacraments the third?
Virtual JesusIn May of 2004 BH operations director Mike Hayes and I were leading a discussion on faith and the media at the University of Notre Dame. Everything got a little wacky when we introduced the topic of Eucharistic adoration online.
If you’re already confused, here’s the deal: Eucharistic adoration is the Catholic custom of placing before the people a large host that has been consecrated at Mass in a special sun-shaped viewing chamber (called a monstrance) on the altar for a special period of prayer and meditation.…

August 3rd, 2004

August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which Catholics believe that Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul after her death.

This does not mean that Mary did not die, nor does it mean that Mary was all powerful and rose from the dead and ascended into heaven under her own power. Rather, Catholics believe that Jesus, out of love for his human mother, assumed her body and soul into heaven after her earthly life was over.

Catholics believe that Mary’s assumption is a foretaste of what all believers will undergo at the end of time. In other words, Mary’s assumption is a pre-view of our own bodily assumption when the world ends.

Nothing certain is known about Mary’s death. The earliest…

July 18th, 2004
A Modern Look at an Ancient Prayer

A few years ago, I remember watching a network news report about the beneficial effects of meditative prayer. The report first featured a Catholic women’s group that was devoted to praying the rosary. The women shown were primarily in their fifties and sixties. Then the report moved on to meditations inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism. The women who practiced that were in their twenties and thirties.
For me, that report signified the Catholic Church’s problem of attracting young people, especially with traditional devotions that have an image of being outdated. Having grown up in a Catholic family, I have an affection for some of these devotions myself and would like to see them continue among members…

July 18th, 2004
Amidst protest the Archdiocese of Boston attempts to close 65 parishes.

“This was nothing but a war zone,” said 30-year old Sixto Merced to a local Boston newspaper, “Church was the only place that you could go that was safe.” Sixto knows what it’s like to have a second chance at life after having survived the violent streets of his inner-city Roxbury neighborhood. St. Mary of the Angel’s youth group offered him a sense of belonging that kept him from joining the local gangs. In his neighborhood where many youth don’t graduate from high school, Sixto got his diploma and went on to become a neighborhood police officer. Now he and hundreds of other church members are back in the streets, this time struggling to save the life of the church that…

July 7th, 2004
How the inspiration of a 19th century woman's incredible life helps me keep the faith

We would, of course, roll our eyes. That’s what teenage girls do when being told something for the millionth time. Still, repetition does have its effect, and so when our teachers at our small all-girls school run by the Sisters of the Holy Child in suburban New Jersey reminded us of how we were meant to “meet the wants of the age”…
—one of the many mottos of the order’s Foundress, Cornelia Connelly—it usually stuck.
Connelly (1809-1879) founded the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in 1846 in England and in the process broke all the rules about what a woman in the Church was supposed to be. She was a wealthy Philadelphian who in the span of 30 years lived a life that would have made any soap-opera

June 24th, 2004
Through his recent book and Yoga DVD, Father Thomas Ryan is reclaiming the body in Christian spirituality.

Whether it’s Pilates or spinning, marathoning or extreme kayaking, Americans love their exercise. No doubt the number of new gym memberships and fitness-related New Year’s resolutions will spike in a couple of weeks, right after we’ve all ingested too many rum balls and glasses of egg nog.
Physical activity for the sake of good health is certainly a noble goal. No one would debate the health benefits of an after dinner walk, a daily run, or taking the stairs whenever possible. But Fr. Thomas Ryan a Paulist priest as well as a certified yoga instructor and avid skier, believes physical activity enhances both bodily and spiritual health. In other words, taking good care of our bodies has spiritual…

June 24th, 2004
The Busted Halo Interview with the author of the New York Times Bestseller Father Joe.

Perhaps it is fitting that it took someone whose job it is to satirize sacred cows and poke fun at hypocrites to write one of the most powerful spiritual memoirs in recent memory. We live in an age of irony and skepticism where nothing is precious and every motive is doubted; where institutions are generally reviled and authority is sneered at. Who better to speak about something as unexpected and sobering as a personal faith journey than someone who shares our culture’s sense of contempt?
Tony Hendra’s name may not be a household word yet, but anyone who has been awake and interested in popular culture over the last 30 years will certainly know his work. The British-born Hendra moved to the United States…

June 9th, 2004
Drunken Taunts, Childhood Regrets

I was just walking my dog on a peaceful Sunday afternoon.
From beyond a grassy knoll of lavender and roses, someone beckoned me from a second floor apartment balcony. I looked up to see a shirtless man leaning against the rail. He was too far away for me to make out his features, but I could tell he was young, blond, and—from his unsteady swagger—drunk.
“What kinda dog is that?” he yowled. A greyhound, I responded, continuing to walk.
“I’ll bet he can kick some ass,” he bellowed, taking a swig of something I safely presumed to be beer. “I’ll bet he can kick some major aaaaassss” he repeated.
“Naw, he’s friendly.” Still not breaking pace,…

June 6th, 2004
Mercy and Mourning for My Enemy

I couldn’t help it. “Good riddance,” I mumbled, as the news came through that Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States, had died on Saturday, June 5, 2004.
In these days following his passing, it has seemed like nearly every other American was praising his achievements—the president-savior who gave us “morning in America, the tough guy who felled the Berlin Wall, the grandfatherly “Great Communicator” who reassured us.
I scowl, feeling like the man in Bermuda shorts at the winter formal. By my accounting, President Reagan bequeathed our world one nightmare after another. How does someone like me honestly mourn his passing?
Ronnie and me back in college…

June 5th, 2004
Philadelphia Catholics Moving Toward Healing with AALM

Although the horrors of slavery, Jim Crow laws and segregated facilities may no longer exist in the United States, there are other, less visible and less formalized aspects of racial prejudice that persist–even, unfortunately, within faith communities. In particular, a parish in Philadelphia with a history of racial tension is helping members of their congregation understand and deal with existing prejudices thanks to the influence of the African American Leadership Ministry (AALM).
A ministry is born
AALM was started in 1996 by a group of black members and white allies at St. Vincent de Paul parish who saw the need for black leaders in their church congregation. Black parishioners desired a voice…

June 3rd, 2004
...or how I learned to turn the other cheek to the other #%*!$ drivers I share the road with.

I’m a big fan of peace and harmony. Because of this, I generally don’t struggle much when it comes to forgiving others. Subconsciously, it feels far better than carrying an unpleasant conflict around in my heart.
But there’s one thing that I am loath to forgive. It’s embarrassing to admit to something so petty, but I can’t forgive rudeness from other drivers.
In my defense, I come by this honestly. My grandfather, an
infinitely kind and gentle man, nonetheless remembered every insult that had ever happened to him on the road. I distinctly recall his outrage when, in his words, “a chick in a Rambo truck” cut him off on the freeway. I don’t know whether to blame nature…

June 2nd, 2004
A review of Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions edited by James Martin, S.J.

To an older generation of Roman Catholics, the mention of traditional devotions like the eucharistic adoration and liturgy of the hours might elicit either chilling memories of a repressive, bygone Catholic era or perhaps a sense of nostalgia for the way things used to be. What they might not expect is that these same devotions are experiencing a renaissance of sorts among a younger generation for whom these practices are new and carry less cultural baggage.
In Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions editor James Martin, S.J. has gathered the reflections of a diverse group of authors—many of whom are in their thirties and forties—on their “favorite” devotions. The…

May 18th, 2004
God Places a Bet at the Kentucky Derby

Smarty Jones, your 2004 Kentucky Derby champion, is God’s Horse.
Seabiscuit for the new milleniumYou see a horse like that and a story like this maybe once in a lifetime. Twice, if you’ve seen Seabiscuit.
Smarty came to the party with a trainer, a jockey, and a couple of owners who had never been to the Kentucky Derby before. He lined up in the starting gate with seventeen other horses who cost more, were bred better, and were backed by connections who had been through this ten, twenty, fifty times before.
He won.
God’s horseKentucky Derby winners are named Secretariat… Affirmed… War Admiral. Not “Smarty Jones.” Not something that sounds like it just fell out of the comics page.…

May 16th, 2004
Saving the Sacred from the Absurd in Church

“Why is there a monkey on the tabernacle?” my friend asked herself as she walked into church one Sunday morning.
Apparently, a religious education teacher was planning a discussion on Noah’s Ark for the second grade and had placed inflatable animals all around—even on the small chamber which holds what we as Catholics believe to be the Body of Christ.
Aside from its Bizarro nature, that story struck me as being indicative of a larger problem in the modern Catholic Church.
Celebration timeSince the Catholic Church went through the changes
of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, there has been a greater emphasis on Mass as a communal celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection…

May 15th, 2004
A young woman's reflections on the journey back to her faith

Last month, I freed my rosary from hiding. We’ve had a tumultuous relationship. I never used the thing on my own, dragging it out mainly for various parochial school events. My rosary was a gift. The kind of thing my grandmother suspected I would need after my Confirmation. So far, she was wrong. But getting my rosary out now at the age of 25 sparked the start of reconciliation between me and my religion.
Though I attended a Jesuit university, I haven’t taken Communion since my freshman year. As I was sharpening my critical thinking skills, it didn’t take long for me to aim that razor toward my faith. Severing me from Catholicism were some major points: women’s role in the Church, celibacy…

May 10th, 2004
A Grad Student's Spiritual Adventure in Brussels

A Grad Student’s Spiritual Adventure in Brusselsby Jessica M. AlampayLeaving homeSt. Mark’s University Parish in Santa Barbara was like my second home. During my time there, I invited and welcomed people to parish activities as if it actually were my own home.
I estimate eating one-third of my dinners at St. Mark’s during my sophomore year of college.
Six months ago I left St. Mark’s and California for Brussels, Belgium. I came to Brussels to complete a one-year M.A. program in International Conflict Analysis, to experience life in Europe, and to get some work experience here.
Different tableauI knew that my experience in Belgium would be different and it certainly has been. The people…

May 10th, 2004
Celibacy as Spiritual Practice

You may not envision being called into relationship with God through a classified ad.
Nevertheless, perhaps God is calling you to live the vocation of singlehood—that is, the vocation of celibacy, of intimate union with the Divine.
‘This is celibacy calling, will you accept the charges?’
Single male (at least in portraits) seeks committed relationship with a beloved. Likes music, long walks on the beach. Seeking friends first, maybe more? You: Single, young Catholic, playful, sense of humor, open to adventure.
As young Catholics we hear about the “calling”to religious life and the “calling” to marriage, but rarely do we hear about the calling to be single, or celibacy.…

May 9th, 2004
Mudslinging is not a Gospel Value

There’s been yet another casualty in the culture wars that have raged in the United States over the past decade. On August 18, 2004, Deal Hudson, publisher of the conservative Catholic journal, Crisis , resigned his position with the Bush campaign as an adviser on how to court the Catholic vote. The scandal surrounding Hudson stems from an accusation of sexual misconduct with a female student approximately ten years ago at Fordham University where he was a tenured philosophy professor.
This might not even merit a mention, considering the lurid personal tales that the American public has been treated to over the past few years (Bill Clinton, William Bennett, and James McGreevey come to mind), but Hudson’s…

May 4th, 2004
A Chicago Play Captures Boston Clergy Sex Scandal As Tragedy

The scandal of Catholic clergy sexual abuse of children is, after two years, still on the front pages of the nation’s papers. But playwright Michael Murphy, director David Zak, and the actors of Chicago’s Bailiwick Repertory Theatre have managed to give the story the feel of a classical tragedy.
SIN—A Cardinal Deposed is a two act drama distilled from transcripts of (now resigned) Boston archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law’s depositions taken between August 2002 and February 2003 in civil actions against priests of the Archdiocese of Boston. The Cardinal is portrayed (with remarkable fidelity to Law’s real-life mannerisms) by actor Jim Sherman.
SIN casts Law as a man of remarkable…

May 3rd, 2004
True tales from the pews #2

Fr. Jim Martin’s recent article recounting the worst homilies ever heard sent an all-too-familiar chill through my born and bred Catholic bones. Unfortunately, I’ve also sat in the pews many times thinking that I’d rather eat paste with kindergarten children than listen to another second of a preacher’s mindless drivel.
While I try to support my parish community as much as I can, I do so under certain conditions. I’ve determined that my family can afford to give $20 a week as our offering. (I’m a lay minister and my wife’s a teacher—you do the math.) But after sitting through countless bad sermons I decided to take matters into my own hands. Let’s face facts,…

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