Busted Halo
author archive
Ann Naffziger :
123 article(s)

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
November 17th, 2015

Question: How does the person doing the reading know to say “letter from Paul” when in the prayer book it just says Corinthians, etc.? I’d like to do the readings, but I don’t know these details.

Answer: …Lectors who are doing the readings from the Bible at Mass read them from a book called the lectionary. The lectionary is formatted to show the lectors which Bible passages to proclaim in which order on which day. Printed above each reading is the preface, for example, “A letter from Paul to the Corinthians.” After the Bible passage the lectionary prints a conclusion such as, “The Word of the Lord” or “The Gospel of the Lord.”
If you are interested in doing the readings at Mass, simply approach

November 13th, 2015

The Bible, like any written document, betrays the cultural context of the authors. In the case of the Bible, we are dealing with not one book, but with many books and thus many authors, all of whom wrote about 1,900 to 3,000 years ago. These authors were members of patriarchal cultures that had different views about gender roles, rights, and responsibilities than we do in the United States today. For example, in the ancient Hebrew society, women were considered possessions more than individuals in their own right, so there are laws in the Hebrew Scriptures dealing with the ownership of women passing from their fathers to their husbands at the time of marriage.
In the New Testament, Paul objected to women speaking…

November 10th, 2015

Question: What aspects of the seven sacraments are in the Bible? Are there any that are not?

Answer: The seven sacraments celebrated by Catholics all have their roots in scripture, although some are featured more prominently than others. There are many references to baptism, of course, beginning with Jesus’ baptism by John. The eucharist was instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-29). Confirmation, though not specifically named in the Bible, is traced back to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism and on his followers after Jesus’ resurrection (see John 20:22 and Acts 2:1-4). The sacrament of reconciliation,… while not practiced in the same way in biblical times as we know

November 3rd, 2015

Question: If the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Father and is rated among the 10 commandments as equally important, how is it that Sunday has been chosen for worship and the Seventh Day forgotten?

Answer: …The Hebrew Scriptures make many, many references to honoring the Sabbath, beginning with the injunction to honor it because that is when God rested from creating the world. For hundreds of years Jews did this — resting on the seventh day of the week, what we recognize now as Saturday. Jesus, his family, and his apostles did this in his lifetime, attending the synagogue and refraining from unnecessary work on those days.
A change happened several decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection because

October 28th, 2015

You won’t find a listing of the Holy Days of Obligation in the Bible because they aren’t there. They aren’t there because they weren’t instituted when the Bible was written and compiled. Like so many things in our Catholic tradition, the practice of celebrating Holy Days developed over a period of centuries as church leaders reflected on the importance of particular events (for example, the Epiphany and the Ascension of Jesus) and developed traditions around other aspects of our faith, (for example, the Immaculate Conception and All Saints Day). Here’s a list of Holy Days celebrated in the United States:

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Epiphany (celebrated on Sunday)
Feast of …

October 20th, 2015

Question: Thinking of movies that focus on the “rapture,” how does the Catholic Church view this topic? Movie trailers make it look scary and violent. I have read the scriptures on this but often wondered about the Church’s view on how it would happen or how it is interpreted.

Answer: …The reference to a Christian “rapture” (meaning “the carrying off of a person to another place or sphere of existence”) originates in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 where St. Paul envisions the faithful being caught up with Christ in mid-air upon his return to earth. In more general religious terms, the rapture includes the notion that some will be “left behind” to endure an extended tribulation on earth

October 13th, 2015

People ascribed many different titles to Jesus in his lifetime with “Son of God” being chief among them. He never protested or corrected people when they called him this (see Matthew 14:33 and 26:63).
On the other hand, although Jesus didn’t openly walk around Palestine with a megaphone claiming, “I am God — come follow me!” there were times, especially in John’s gospel, when he talked in theological terms that some people would have recognized as equating himself with God.
For example, in the Hebrew Scriptures, God revealed his name to Moses in the riddle-like form of “I AM” (then translated to Yahweh). I AM — or Yahweh — was the… primary name for the Divinity. In John’s

October 6th, 2015

At the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus sends the disciples out to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). This is the origin of the Church’s “trinitarian formula.”
The understanding of the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity itself developed over the first few centuries of Christianity as church leaders pondered the many and various passages in the New Testament about Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Some passages speak of Jesus as the Son of God (for example, Luke 1:35). There are passages in which Jesus promises that God will send the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ death (John 14:26).…

October 2nd, 2015

Question: What kind of father leaves his innocent children (Adam and Eve) in a place (Garden of Eden) with incredible dangers to them (tree of knowledge of good and evil, serpent, etc.) and only a warning to “protect” them? After the mistake (eating of the tree, disobeying God), they are cast out of the garden. A real father with real children knows they make mistakes even when forewarned. What kind of loving father throws away his children like that? It seems as if we have been set up to fail from the beginning.
Answer: …The biblical story of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden helps us understand something about the human condition on a grand level: What human beings are like, how we make choices, and what

September 9th, 2015

Question: I know the New Testament was written in Greek. However I have been told that there were a few verses from Jesus in Aramaic. Are you able to share with me exactly what verses in the New Testament are Aramaic?
Answer: You are correct. The New Testament was written in Greek with only a few Aramaic words or phrases scattered here and there. They are generally recognizable because when you are reading along in English, or hear the scriptures read aloud, these words jump out at you:
Talitha cum meaning “Little girl, get up!” (Mark 5:41)
Ephphatha meaning “Be opened.” (Mark 7:34)
Abba meaning “Father” (Mark 14:36)
Raca meaning “fool” (Matthew 5:22)
Rabbouni meaning “teacher”… (John 20:16)

August 7th, 2015

What is a sign (from God)? What “signs” might appear to us today, and how is God still speaking?…
There are many events, supernatural or otherwise, that happen in the Bible, which can loosely be termed “signs from God.” Some appear in dreams, like the image of Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:11-22). Others happen during waking hours, as when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-15). Some, like those in the Gospel of John (One example — Jesus changing the water into wine at the wedding at Cana), are more often thought of as miracles, although the gospel writer used the term “signs.” What they all have in common is that they were unexpected or extraordinary

July 31st, 2015

Imagine a timeline stretching back millions of years. Scientists believe that dinosaurs became extinct about 66 million years ago, tens of millions of years before humans evolved from our primate predecessors. Fast forward to the centuries when the books in the Bible were written, a mere two to three thousand years ago. At that time, dinosaurs had been extinct for many millions of years. Continue to fast forward to the beginning of the 1800s. That is when dinosaur fossils were first recognized and began to be studied to the extent that they are now. So the reason dinosaurs are not mentioned in the Bible is simply that the authors and their contemporaries did not have any knowledge of their existence.
However, occasionally…

June 3rd, 2015

The biblical writers themselves never uses the word “homosexuality,” but the few Biblical passages referring to homosexual acts (less than 10 passages in the entire Bible) refer to sexual acts between people of the same gender. The most prominent verses are in Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27. Interestingly, there is not a single mention of homosexuality in the four gospels, and we have no record of Jesus addressing the topic. The Old Testament authors and St. Paul were unaware of a modern psychosexual understanding of persons whose sexual orientation is determined early in life, if not genetically. Certainly they didn’t make a distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behavior as…

May 27th, 2015

No. The Bible is better described as a set of books within a book, and as such, it’s not just a book of history.
Certainly it sketches some of the history of our Jewish ancestors, the life of Jesus, and brief glimpses of the early Christian churches, but most of the Bible was not written to be a detailed historical document. It’s aim, rather than telling history, is far greater. It is nothing less than to woo people into a love relationship with God. It’s writers attempt to persuade people to come to a belief in the God who created us and continues to work on our behalf. It is meant to help us know God through Jesus, who gives us a glimpse of what God’s compassion, healing, and justice looks like. It…

May 8th, 2015

Jesus told his disciples to go out and spread the word of God. We are all disciples of God, and as such, we should be spreading the word of God as well. How would you suggest a normal, everyday person go about sharing our faith with others?
Pope Paul VI and the United States Catholic Bishops addressed this very question in some of their writings. They suggest a three-fold process. First, of course, is that you should be “converted” to the gospel yourself; not just being a Christian in name, but in you your deeds as well. Second is to “witness” to the gospel and your faith by how you live your daily life. Love God and your neighbor as yourself. Strive to speak and act with compassion to others. Practice justice and generosity…

April 29th, 2015

The first and most important thing you can do in this vein is to buy a children’s Bible and read it with them. The Bible is confusing enough for adults to understand, so why would we assume children can make sense of it if we only read them one with adult language?
There are some great children’s Bibles available, and they are geared to children of different ages, from toddlers through college students. You can check out this link for suggestions of age-appropriate ones: http://www.growingupcatholic.com/finding-a-bible.html
Pick a story or two to read as a bedtime story in the evenings, or read the children’s version of the Sunday gospel to them. The stories they hear will prompt questions,…

April 24th, 2015

Q: Most Bible scholars agree that Paul’s letters are the oldest portion of the New Testament, i.e., these were written before the Gospels. Why then, does Paul not mention the virgin birth, not mention any miracles, not mention the empty tomb? Why does Paul cite a spiritual resurrection but not speak of a physical resurrection? If Judas committed suicide, then why does Paul state in I Corinthians 15:5 that Christ appeared to 12 Apostles?
Raymond Brown, a renowned New Testament scholar, answers this very question in the first chapter of his book An Introduction to the New Testament.… The early Christians were slow in writing down the stories of Jesus’ life because they believed that Jesus would be returning

April 9th, 2015

In first century Palestine where Jesus was living, tax collectors were individuals who worked for Roman administrators. They were responsible for collecting taxes to support the Roman Empire, which governed Jesus’ homeland. (Think of the IRS in our day.) Some of the taxes levied on the Jewish people might have been oppressive in themselves, but sometimes it was the tax collectors who made the situation unduly difficult by collecting more than was due and pocketing the difference. We know this because at one point when John the Baptist called for repentance, he warned the tax collectors to stop collecting more than what is due (Luke 3:12-13). Other citations in scripture equate tax collectors with prostitutes…

February 3rd, 2015

Let’s face it: The Bible can be an intimidating read. After all, it’s a compilation of texts written 2,000 to 3,000 years ago in Hebrew and Greek. It’s full of strange metaphors, unfamiliar references and baffling context. Plus, the English we have translated it into is often stilted or archaic. Sadly, the most common translations of the Bible aren’t always “accessible” to most people without graduate degrees in scripture. So, even when someone is looking for moral guidance or spiritual sustenance and really wants to read the Bible, it is easy for them to give up on it.
But what if the Bible spoke like we do? Biblical scholar Eugene Peterson took it upon himself to write a translation that would do just…

January 28th, 2015

Q: I’m in a three-year Pastoral Institute course that our diocese is offering. This is my third round of taking these courses in two different dioceses over a 20-year period, and I have never been taught scripture like this. The current course is on the Old Testament being taught by a religious sister of 72 years. I believe she knows her stuff, but I am questioning too much. Maybe you can help? I have some serious questions that are really making me look at how I understood the bible.
When did our understanding of the Bible stories change? Why were we taught/still taught that Jonah lived three days in the belly of a whale if, in fact, it is just a symbol? Did a snake talk to Eve in Genesis? She claims they never talked,…

Page 1 of 712345Last »
powered by the Paulists