Busted Halo
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Fr. Joe :
74 article(s)

Fr. Joe Scott, CSP, has been a campus minister, pastor and editor as a Paulist priest.
December 1st, 2011

The Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins, S.J., has called the writings of the prophet Isaiah “the fifth gospel.” By this he means that so many of the themes of the gospels, enfleshed in their portrayal of Jesus, have their scriptural beginnings in Isaiah. Isaiah’s connection to the story of Jesus seems particularly strong in the Advent and Christmas seasons. Even the prophet’s name — Isaiah means “Yahweh saves” — foretells the Christmas story.
The book of Isaiah is one of the longest books in the Old Testament and the writings within it were composed over a period of so many years that most scholars believe there were at least three “prophet…

October 4th, 2011

Your question is one of the most frequently asked “religious” questions. It has become a big question becauseso many people, like yourself, have pets for whom they feel affection and therefore sadness when their pet dies. The most honest answer to your question is that we don’t know.
Death and what comes after death is a mystery. We Christians believe that there is life after death and that God desires us to live forever in his presence. “Heaven” is a word we use to describe a relationship of love with God that exists beyond death. We believe that it is a state of complete happiness and that it involves “being with” God. Other than that we have no photograph or blueprint…

December 27th, 2010

The stole is a scarf that was used as a symbol of authority for Roman officials. It would be something like the badge that a police or fire official wears today. The Catholic Church, when part of the Roman Empire, adopted the stole to indicate when a priest is engaged in his role as presider during the celebration of a Sacrament.
The colors for the vestments used in the celebration of sacraments and other liturgical events were selected by Pope Innocent III, a 12th century bishop of Rome, for their symbolism (white for Christmas and Easter, red for the feasts of martyrs and the Holy Spirit, green for ordinary time, and purple for Advent and Lent). They also evoke a particular mood. The color purple has a cool, calming effect…

February 18th, 2010

The Catholic view of cremation has changed in recent years. Cremation was the common practice of the Roman empire at the time of Jesus. In contrast, the Jewish community followed the practice of burying the bodies of those who had died. In the tradition of his time, Jesus, after his death on the cross, was buried in a tomb, probably a cave. The early Christians appear to have followed the Jewish practice. They buried their dead in cemeteries, or the underground caves we now call catacombs. A special regard was attached to the bodies of martyrs who had died violent deaths rather than deny their faith. Their tombs became places of prayer.
The practice of cremation disappeared after Roman times, re-appearing only as…

December 24th, 2009

Catholics differ from some Christian Churches which accept the Scripture as the only source of God’s revelation. Catholics have a strong belief in the truth of Scripture, but we also believe in tradition as a way in which God continues to reveal truth to us. Tradition can include beliefs, customs, prayers, and worship, the teaching of popes, bishops, theologians and Church councils. It’s our process of continually reflecting on the way in which the Word of God encounters our own experience as a community of faith.
Catholic understanding is that tradition includes the Scripture, and began before the gospels and letters were written. We do believe that Scripture is a unique revelation from God and…

December 23rd, 2009

There are many prayers to St. Joseph referring to him as “the dispenser of the treasures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” but I’ve been unable to trace the origins of this phrase.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus grew gradually over the Middle Ages but did not become a widespread Catholic devotion until the private revelations of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1673). In his encyclical (letter) on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, titled “Haurietis Aquas”(1956), Pope Pius XII noted that the heart of Jesus was nourished by the loving home life he shared with Mary and Joseph.
I’ve been unable to find any further history of the tie between St. Joseph and devotion to the Sacred Heart. Perhaps…

December 10th, 2009

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates an appearance of the Virgin Mary at Tepayac, a hill northwest of Mexico City. For evidence we have both a story and a painting.
The story tells of an Indian convert to Christianity around 50 years of age. His Aztec name had been Cuauhtlatohuac, but at his baptism he was given the name Juan Diego. While walking in the hills he heard music and saw a bright light. This led him to a beautiful lady at Tepayac, on December 9, 1531. She had the features and the dress of a young Indian woman. She wore a blue mantle covered with stars. She spoke to Juan Diego in her own Nahuatl language and called herself “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and “the Mother of the True God through whom…

November 11th, 2009

Question: Should we use every means medically possible to keep an ill person alive? What is the Catholic teaching on this question?…
I reviewed some of the general principles that Catholics apply to the question of using medical technology to sustain or prolong a person’s life. Such questions are in the realm of the discipline of bioethics, which explores the ethical questions that arise in the presence of such dramatic advances in medical technology as we have seen in recent years. Bioethics is a relatively recent field, mostly developed since the 1960s, and represents the best attempts of ethicists to respond to rapidly changing situations in the light of the fundamental values of life, freedom, and

October 28th, 2009

Question: Some of my Pentecostal friends believe that speaking in tongues is a sign that you are “saved.” Does the Catholic Church have an official stance on speaking in tongues?
I don’t believe that the Catholic Church has an official stance on speaking in tongues. In recent years its approach to this phenomenon seems to have been one of cautious acceptance, with an emphasis on the “cautious.”
Speaking in tongues (also known as “glossolalia,” from the Greek word “glossa” meaning tongue or language) has been part of Catholic experience at two periods of our history.
The first was in the very early Church, as recorded in the New Testament. There are…

October 21st, 2009

Certainly God knows when we are sorry for our sins. And since God’s only relationship with us is one of unconditional love, whenever we turn to God with a sincere sorrow for sin and a desire to make a new beginning, God is there to meet us with forgiveness.
As human beings, however, we may need a more concrete way of experiencing God’s love for us. A person who loves us might show his or her love by making time for us, writing us a note, treating us to a special meal, or buying us a gift. We may already know that our friend cares for us, but the concrete attention is a confirmation and reassurance that human love requires. We Catholics believe that God has given us the sacraments as a way of showing that we are receiving…

September 26th, 2009

The church doesn’t have any strong feelings on body piercing. The Catechism warns against mutilations (e.g. cutting one’s arm or leg off) but nothing else is found. A recent article in U.S. Catholic Magazine showed a picture of someone receiving communion on their tongue and it was pierced!
However, the church would expect you to be respectful of your own body and not to do anything that would be viewed as unhealthy (e.g. using dirty needles for piercing and risking serious infections!) or dangerous. Piercing and tattoos could put you at risk for HIV as well–so be very careful and only go to reputable places to get these things done.
Some other thoughts regarding modesty and intention:…
I would

September 6th, 2009

Over the past 200 years, the Catholic church has consistently held a favorable attitude toward labor unions and the rights of workers to organize. A key step in attaining this position was the action of an American Cardinal, James Gibbons of Baltimore, in pursuading Pope Leo XIII not to condemn the Knights of Labor in 1887. The Knights were an American attempt to organize workers and some bishops argued that the group possessed the characteristics of a secret society. But Cardinal Gibbons saw that it was important to support the recent immigrants to American shores, many of them Catholic, whose work conditions were hard and often unjust.
Pope Leo XIII agreed, and in 1891 wrote a groundbreaking encyclical, Rerum…

October 16th, 2008

What the texts of the Bible reveal is a gradual evolution toward an appreciation of the value of marriage as an equal and lifelong partnership between a man and a woman. Our understanding of marriage has evolved even within our own lifetime and over centuries it has evolved considerably.
The Old Testament indicates that the polygamy was practiced by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as it has been by many nomadic peoples, particularly in ancient times. In these patriarchal societies the husband was chief of the family tribe and wives were purchased from another patriarch. While the stories of Abraham and Sarah and Jacob and Rachel indicate that love might be a part of such relationships, women were also treated as possessions,…

May 18th, 2008

Certainly God knows when we are sorry for our sins. And since God’s only relationship with us is one of unconditional love, whenever we turn to God with a sincere sorrow for sin and a desire to make a new beginning, God is there to meet us with forgiveness.
As human beings, however, we may need a more concrete way of experiencing God’s love for us. A person who loves us might show his or her love by making time for us, writing us a note, treating us to a special meal, or buying us a gift. We may already know that our friend cares for us, but the concrete attention is a confirmation and reassurance that human love requires. We Catholics believe that God has given us the sacraments as a way of showing that we are receiving…

May 18th, 2008

I’m sure that God forgave you when you celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation many years ago. However, the fact that the act of taking money from another still bothers you after all these years indicates that there’s an additional step that you need to take before you can feel completely at peace. When we harm someone it’s important to make restitution, that is, to repair as much as possible the injury we did to the other person.
The first step is to make an attempt to pay back the person or institution from whom you took the money. This doesn’t have to be done openly, but can be in the form of an anonymous donation or secret gift.
Of course, after so many years the person from whom the money…

May 18th, 2008

Yes, the saints are human just like ourselves. They are in no way gods or super-humans. In the early church, the word “saint” was used to describe anyone who was a member of the community that expressed faith in Christ. Christians believed that death did not end one’s membership in the family of faith. The bonds of faith and love continued between the living and the dead. So when someone who had lived a good life died, they were presumed to be still members in good standing of the “communion of saints.”
After a while, Christians who had lived lives of remarkable holiness, or who had accepted death by martyrdom rather than deny their faith in Christ, were honored by their contemporaries…

May 18th, 2008

This is a question that many Catholics are asking after hearing the recent statement of Bishop Sheridan of Colorado Springs that he would refuse to give commununion to a political candidate whose views are not in line with church teaching against abortion. Archbishop Burke of St. Louis has established a similiar policy, as have two bishops in New Jersey, but these seem to be a minority among the American bishops.
Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston said last summer that Catholic politicians who support legal abortion should stop receiving communion by their own choice. But Archbishop O’Malley added that the church does not deny communion to people who come to receive it, presuming that they do so…

May 18th, 2008
I am a thirty-something woman who is single and chaste. I do however, suffer from uncomfortable menstrual periods and was prescribed birth control by my gynecologist...since I am not married and engaged in any sexual activity, there is no chance of my contraceptive blocking life...does the Church have an official position on the use of birth control for medical reasons NOT involving actual conception of life?

The short answer to your question is: you are taking the medication prescribed by your doctor in order to regulate your menstrual cycle and ease your discomfort. The medication is achieving this effect. Neither you or your doctor intends that this medication be used for the purpose of birth control. In your case the situation is made even clearer by the fact that you are not sexually active and do not intend to be so. So your assumption that there is no sin involved in your taking the contraceptive in these circumstances is correct.
Now some background. The Church has a traditional guideline for determining the morality of such an action. It is called “the principle of double effect.” This applies to…

May 18th, 2008

Catholic teaching holds that abortion is always immoral. This is a strongly held position and dates back to the earliest days of the Church. For example, the Didache, the earliest known book of basic instructions for Christians, contains a prohibition against abortion. One of the distinctive features of the earliest Christian community was its strong stance against abortion and infanticide as practiced within the Roman empire.
The Catholic position on abortion is based on the following principles:
1. The life of an embryo is consistent with the life of a fetus which is consistent with the life of a newborn baby. No change in being ever takes place. Life is therefore “human” from the moment of conception…

May 18th, 2008

You are correct in sensing that there is more unity than difference in the way Catholics and Lutherans understand and celebrate communion. In fact, since the Second Vatican Council there has been a “coming together” of these different Christian Churches with respect to communion. The Catholic Eucharist (Mass) is now celebrated in the language of the local community rather than in Latin. The communal celebration of the Mass is much preferred to the private celebration by a priest that was common before Vatican II. And Catholics have restored the ancient practice of communion under the forms of both bread and wine.
In dialogues between Lutheran and Catholic theologians in 1968, Lutherans agreed that the…

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