Hearing from the Halo

BustedHalo a great site that puts a lighter spin on spirituality. It’s run by Paulists, so there’s a large Catholic presence, but I really like the balanced, “seeking” way it treats other faiths as well. (Except for that article about the alleged religious sister who loves The Vagina Monologues….) Plus, I won a signed copy of James Martin’s A Jesuit Off-Broadway!

There have been some exceptional interviews lately. The Faith Between Us, by Peter Bebergal and Scott Korb, details the personal religious journey of the two men, who sought to be a Jewish mystic and a Catholic priest respectively, but found meaning else. Says Korb:

I was sitting there with my stepfather in the days before he died and he said to me, “Look, you have to take care of your mother when I’m gone.” And that became my Christian inheritance, and that became my experience. My stepfather was a very devout Catholic and for him, his experience was that his own afterlife didn’t seem to matter to him in the moment, but only that we—his children—would take over where he left off in taking care of my mother.

I think this moment is less about his stepfather’s focus on this world instead of the next, and more about his focus on leaving his family secure because he knows he’s going on. In that moment, heaven wasn’t as important as making sure his family would be okay. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking about heaven like “a very devout Catholic.”

For twenty years of my life I was sure that I knew how to be a Catholic, that I knew how to live as a religious person, and that meant to be as disciplined as I could and to develop an eating disorder and to decide I wanted to be a priest because I thought that that was what God wanted—was for me to be lonely my whole life. And that’s not to say that I think that priests are lonely. That’s to say that in my perception of the priesthood I was lonely and I wanted to make loneliness—as I say in the book—my vocation.

I can understand this. A lot of times, I fear that I’m too legalistic in my practice of Catholicism. What it is, though, is that I just like living my faith that way. I like following the specific practices and traditions that have come down through the centuries. It’s comforting for me to do the same things at every Mass, every day. There’s no one single way to be Catholic (though I think his self-described “Catholic atheism” pushes it). Some priests (and laypeople) do well in the silence. Some crave activity and live fellowship. The apostles were all very different men, after all.

The magazine also featured an interview with Braddigan of the band Dispatch, which I think I’ve heard of in passing. Clearly, I need to pay more attention, because he is so profound and eloquent.

I think a lot of people identify with Christianity or any faith for that matter as a kind of external clothing. Something you were born into, a tradition, something that stays on the outside and it is in this box and then your life is in this box. People tend to approach their lives like there are the three or four boxes that.

[…] I don’t really understand exactly how as an athlete and as a musician and as a person who loves the Lord—how can I put all that stuff together. He said “You just live one life. You are never supposed to believe that ministry was over here and maybe church is on Sundays and your work Monday through Friday and your vacation…it’s one life and who you carry inside you internally, Christ, the Holy Spirit, this light that the Lord talks about that can’t be hidden…that’s your greatest gift.”

Later, he quotes St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Braddigan really understands that faith is not something you can relegate to a box to check and a place to go on Sundays. Faith gives us life. Faith is life.

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