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.
May 18th, 2008

As Americans we have mixed emotions regarding the word king. The American Revolution was fought to free Americans from the tyranny of a kingly rule. Since then we’ve had little enthusiasm for hereditary, life-long reigns. Our political traditions mostly involve elected officials who serve a set term of office and then retire to private life. The U.S. Constitution maintains a “balance of powers” among the different branches of government to prevent any one branch from usurping a royal authority.
Even in the world at large, hereditary monarchies are fading away. Those which remain, as in Great Britain, have come to assume largely a ceremonial function as heads of state, with little genuine…

May 18th, 2008

As Christians, this may be the most important question we can ask. Certainly St. Paul thought so. He once declared that if Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain.
Yet the gospels give surprisingly few facts about such an significant and in fact essential event. There are no details about how God raised up Jesus. There were apparently no witnesses to the resurrection itself, no one to describe what had occurred or when. All four gospels tell us that on Sunday morning, three days after Jesus had died, some of his disciples found that the tomb in which his body had been placed was empty.
This fact alone did not bring faith to the disciples. The absence of Jesus’ body caused some bewilderment or led…

May 18th, 2008

I’m happy to assure you that the Catholic Church has never taught that unbaptized babies go to hell. In fact, such a belief was explicitly rejected by Pope Pius VI in 1794, in response to the severe teachings of an group in Italy called the Jansenists.
The fate of unbaptized babies after death has been, however, a topic of discussion in the Church since at least the 4th century. The discussion centered around how to interpret Jesus’ words in the gospel of John (3:5) “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”
Whether these words of Jesus applied to babies was apparently not a concern for the earliest Christians, since they baptized only adults. The practice…

May 18th, 2008
If for example, John Smith were my best friend and a strong believer in reincarnation, would we accept him? I mean, would we accept his belief that he will be incarnated, or will we simply shut down his beliefs and say he is destined to heaven or hell?

Thanks for your question.
First and foremost, the question of what happens to us after death leads us into a place of mystery. We don’t have a photograph or a road map. The most basic decision that Christians make in the face of death is to trust in the reality of a God who wills eternal life, not death for us. The first letter of Paul to Timothy speaks of “God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:3-4). As Catholics, we believe that God’s will for salvation for all is conditioned by our human freedom to say “yes” or “no.” God does not force Divine life and love upon us. God’s gift of salvation is given to anyone…

May 18th, 2008

The earliest Scriptural reference to prayers for the dead comes in the second book of Maccabees. The books of Maccabees were among the latest written books found in the Old Testament. They recount the struggle of the Jewish people for freedom against the Seleucid Empire, around 100-200 years before the birth of Christ. They are written from an Orthodox Jewish point of view. The second book of Maccabees tells how Judas Maccabee, the Jewish leader, led his troops into battle in 163 B.C. When the battle ended he directed that the bodies of those Jews who had died be buried. As soldiers prepared their slain comrades for burial, they discovered that each was wearing an amulet taken as booty from a pagan Temple. This violated…

May 18th, 2008

It’s no surprise that you find you can’t get a straight answer from anyone on this question, because everything about life after death is basically a mystery. We don’t have a blueprint, a map or a photograph of heaven. Life with God is beyond our human imagination’s ability to conceive. Our imagination is rooted in our earthly experience of time and space and life with God is without time and is not limited by space–which is what we mean by the word “eternal.”
However, our imagination can give us hints or clues, based on our experience in this life. My favorite definition of hell is that of the Russian novelist Dostoevksii that “hell is the suffering of being unable…

May 18th, 2008

From the quality and concern of your question, I would judge that you are a conscientious and compassionate person of faith.I wish that there were an easy and equally straightforward way to answer your question, but there isn’t.We have to consider many factors that don’t bump up easily against each other.
The Catholic church (in its official teaching) has a problem with same-sex marriage for at least two reasons. First, the church has maintained an opposition to sexual relationships between people of the same sex dating back to the prohibitions found in some of the letters of St. Paul. Since marriage of its nature involves a sexual relationship, two persons of the same sex cannot enter into it. A longterm…

May 18th, 2008

To answer your question I have to provide a little history.
Up until 1965, Mass was celebrated everywhere in the Catholic church in Latin according to the “rite” (order or ritual or worship) determined at the Council of Trent and issued by Pope Pius V in 1568.
The Second Vatican Council wrote a “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” (1963) which advocated that Mass be celebrated in the native language (“vernacular”) of a particular region or country. This was so that “the Christian people, so far as possible, should be able to understand (the texts and rites) with ease and take part in them fully, actively, as befits a community.”
This document also asked for…

May 18th, 2008

“Lectio” is the Latin word for reading. In Catholic language a lector is a reader and a lectionary is the book of scripture readings. So the Latin “Lectio Divina” translates into English as “Divine”, “holy” or “prayerful” reading.
To understand how this practice developed in the Church, it’s important to understand that the skill of reading is a relatively modern phenomenon. Books did not become easily available to people until the invention of the printing press in the 16th century. Until then, Bibles and other books of prayer were copied by hand. This became one of the tasks of a monastery, or community of monks. Monks learned the skills…

May 18th, 2008

A good place to begin is with your own diocesan newspaper. Most dioceses publish a weekly or monthly newspaper and these often contain excellent movie reviews or an evaluation of current films with respect to their suitability for family viewing. A few years ago Paulist Productions developed an annual “Humanitas Prize” to acknowledge television programs which promote human and Christian values and articulate a positive moral code. The Humanitas prize continues in existence and has been a force for influencing tv programming in a positive way.
Another response is to set a good example in your own use of the media. Your own good example will have the strongest effect of all in influencing your family’s…

May 18th, 2008

Opus Dei is what is known as a “personal prelature” of the Pope. This means that unlike a diocese or a parish, Opus Dei has their own Bishops and priests that aren’t connected with a geographical diocese.
At the basic level, Opus Dei is a Lay run organization of people committed to living a spiritual life in the everyday.
John Allen has the best book on Opus Dei and I’d recommend it for further study.…

May 18th, 2008
I am very interested in investigating paranormal activity, such as trying to contact spirits or search for "energy" using audio or electrical equipment. I have not done any of this yet because I'm conflicted with this as I do not want to go against the Church. What does the Catholic Church think about this and is it okay for me to do my investigations?

Attempts to contact or communicate with the spirits of the dead are warned against both in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Leviticus 19:31, I Samuel 28:8) and in the teaching of the Catholic Church (Acta Apostolicae Sedis 9-269). Some of the reasons given for this are: (a) a context of superstitious beliefs and practices, (b) the frequency of fraud and deception in the methods of mediums and channelers, (c) the possible influence of the demonic. The New Catholic Encyclopedia article on “Spiritism” notes: “it is understood, however, that what is condemned is superstitious abuse and that there was no intention to preclude legitimate scientific study, provided there is no recourse to…

May 18th, 2008

You asked how adoration chapels came about. I found a link that should prove helpful which describes the history of Eucharistic adoration. It is from the old Catholic Encyclopedia:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01152a.htm
It seems that Eucharist adoration (and the designation of places for it to happen) gained popularity sometime in the 13th century.
I’m not sure what you meant by, ” Doesn’t this go against Jesus’s teaching of praying in private?”
Perhaps you are referring to Matthew 6:6 where Jesus says, “When you pray, go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.”
If that’s what you meant, I would say that in this particular…

May 18th, 2008

Jesus is very clear in the gospels that we can and should ask God to help us with our needs and that we can depend on God to respond. In fact, there are two prayers in the gospels that Jesus himself prays — and both contain requests of God. “The Lord’s Prayer” asks God to “give us the bread for this day,” to “lead us not into temptation,” and to “deliver us from the evil one.” And Jesus in the Garden at Gethsemane prays that God will “take this cup (his suffering and death) away from me.” In fact, neither of Jesus’ prayers was answered in the way he hoped. He was tempted, he was delivered into the hands of evil, and he did have to “drink…

May 18th, 2008

First of all, I’d like to encourage you in your desire to pray on a daily basis. Daily prayer is an important way of maintaining and fostering a relationship with God. You mentioned that your daily prayer consists of sitting in a chair and reciting a bible verse or prayer as a mantra. There are many different ways of praying, and prayer that is Scripture-centered is always on target. Your own practice seems very much within the tradition of Christian prayer.
A “high” feeling or an erotic feeling or sensation may indeed occur in prayer. The fact that an erotic poem, “The Song of Songs”, is included in the bible shows that our relationship with God can include erotic feelings. The experiences…

May 18th, 2008

In the language of the Bible, a prophet is someone who speaks a message from God. Sometimes the message is addressed to the king or some prominent person. At other times it’s meant for the people as a whole. Prophets don’t appear among the people of Israel until there are kings. They function as an important counter-balance to the ancient belief that kings spoke in the name of God and therefore their actions were not to be questioned.
The first prophet is Nathan, who is sent from God to King David to warn him that he has sinned in murdering his loyal soldier Uriah, so that he could marry Uriah’s wife. In this story David listens to the words of the prophet and acknowledges that he has done wrong (the story…

May 18th, 2008

I wish I could have sat in on your discussion. I might then be able to respond to your question more clearly. Revelation is not so much a set of propositions or a list of facts as it is God’s self-disclosure of love for us and God’s invitation to us to enter into a relationship of love with God. This is an invitation that is offered to the whole world, but needs to be received concretely by individual persons. It often passes from person to person as a flame passes from candle to candle. Christians believe that receive this revelation as inviduals but that it is nurtured, supported and preserved within the context of a community of believers.
There are a variety of ways in which we might encounter God’s…

May 18th, 2008

The rosary is not the most important Catholic prayer–that “honor” belongs to the Eucharist–but it has been a popular and widespread devotion among Catholics from the Middle Ages until the present day.
Jesus would not have prayed the Rosary, which is actually a collection of prayers. Only one of these, the Our Father or “Lord’s Prayer,” is attributed to Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The first section of the “Hail Mary,” the most frequently recited prayer in the Rosary, is adapted from two passages in the gospel of Luke: the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:28) and the words of Elizabeth to Mary (Luke 1:42). The Apostle’s Creed…

May 18th, 2008

Catholics believe that suicide is a serious evil in and of itself. It’s a sin against God, who is the author of all life, against the love of one’s own self as a creation of God, and against neighbor because it breaks the ties each person has with the human family. In Catholic teaching it is not permitted under any circumstances.
Even though suicide is considered such a serious sin, we cannot make any judgment about the eternal state of someone who has committed suicide. There are at least two reasons for this.
One reason is that we have no idea what the interior state of the person committing the act of suicide might be. So often persons who commit suicide do so because of depression, mental illness or because…

May 18th, 2008

Thanks for your question to Busted Halo. Whether you sinned or not depends on whether you intended to do evil or turn away from God by visiting a psychic. You don’t indicate that this was your reason, but only you know the answer to that question. The Church discourages participation in magical or superstitious practices that involve an attempt to control nature (become like God) or that see the meaning of life as found in something other than the God of Jesus. Here are some general principles that can help you understand what practices are of God and what may be leading you into evil:
1. St. Paul says that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness…

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