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Mike Hayes :
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Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
November 19th, 2014

In this season of giving, I have been reflecting on how thankful I am for the inspiration that Pope Francis has given me, especially in the past few months. While this space could be filled with dozens of examples, I whittled my list down to these grace-filled moments.

Emphasizing mercy
Francis continues to be “The Pope of Mercy.” In October, during a meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, Pope Francis said: “It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples’ lives from an unjust aggressor.”
Then he went one step further: “Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty.”
The pope…

November 12th, 2014

Q: I have a question about forgiveness. I have a coworker that really annoys me – to put it mildly. I have been trying to be more forgiving of the people with which I work, but this one guy I have not forgiven for anything yet. It is hard for me to do it. He has such a hyper-critical, superior, selfish, angry, and exasperating attitude that I am at the point where just want to avoid him – or publicly dress him down – or maybe crack him over the head. When he thought I was not around my desk today, I caught him mocking me. Now, I really do not want to forgive him. I know I cannot avoid him indefinitely. I know I should not take him down either verbally or physically. I know forgiving him is what I should do. How do I prepare and…

October 15th, 2014
Halftime at the Synod brings with it an “earthquake” regarding the Church’s attitude toward the LGBT community.

As the extraordinary Synod of Bishops shared a midpoint document summarizing dis-cussions so far, we should remind ourselves that the Synod is far from over. In fact, there will be another session next year when Pope Francis will issue his own teachings on the subject of family. Nonetheless, several issues raised in the conversations so far should cause us to sit up and pay attention.
#1 New Attitude Toward the LGBT Community… — While the Synod upholds Catholic teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, there was a remarkable change in tone toward gay couples that the acclaimed Vaticanologist John Thavis called “an earthquake.” The document states first and foremost that “homosexuals have

October 7th, 2014

An excellent question! The incarnation of Jesus is not bound by human biology. So we are talking about a supernatural event that we are trying to limit by our own natural biology.
That said, Jesus was indeed both human and divine. So it is not important to emphasize the biological necessity of a male donor, but rather the emphasis is on the divine one entering into humanity through our human birth to a woman. Does this happen by a male sperm uniting with a female egg. Almost certainly, but not necessarily. It is a true mystery of our faith with regards to “how” this all happened scientifically. The faith element of this event is what we need to emphasize here. The point of the story is that God entered into our…

October 2nd, 2014
Pope Francis is setting a course for compassion ahead of the Synod of Bishops

As the Church prepares for the upcoming Synod (or meeting) of Bishops on the Family, is Pope Francis sending us signals as to what we can expect?
Everyone is on edge waiting to hear what Pope Francis has in mind. Will he lift the ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion? Will he talk about couples who live together before marriage? Will he address questions on birth control? It’s anyone’s guess as to what direction the October gathering of bishops is going to take.
But recently the pope may have tipped his hand when he presided over the weddings of 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome, many of whom already had children or had been living together.
During the wedding Mass, Pope Francis said, “This…

September 21st, 2014

Q: If my father watches porn he catches me watching it what should i do?
A: My initial reaction says that you should simply turn off the porn! And that is a good idea in general. Pornography, besides being addictive (especially online), does great harm to others, not merely objectifying them for your own sexual pleasure and limiting them to that, but pornography is often linked with human trafficking, bullying, prostitution, drug use, and much more. This is a great article about the damage resulting from pornography addiction as well. And, awhile back, I did a three-part feature on sexual addiction and porn addiction here at BustedHalo.com. It is a serious problem besides being sinful.
However, more to your point…

September 19th, 2014

No. Television and Internet broadcasts of Mass are useful for the sick or those unable to get to Mass because of some other infirmity. If you were to miss Mass because you are purposely choosing to attend another event (say, a baseball game) that is a violation of the commandment to honor the Sabbath.
As the Catechism notes:
You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.

What is required is to gather as a Christian assembly of faith, not necessarily Mass, per se. There are plenty of parishes in the country, and many…

September 10th, 2014

Question: My brown (cloth) scapular breaks frequently. Is it “OK” to wear a medal scapular?
Do I need to have each (new) scapular blessed?

Yes, but some restrictions apply here. The scapular is generally blessed at an investiture ceremony, in other words, those who wear the scapular shouldn’t just initially buy it in a store and start wearing it. They should have some affiliation with a religious order that uses it as part of their habit. For example, I was a parishioner in Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish when I was a child and we would often pray to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on her feast day and then all would be given a scapular which would be blessed in a ceremony.
If that scapular (which is usually made…

September 5th, 2014

No. Holy Water is a sacramental, a material object that is blessed and used to increase devotion and should not be thrown out into sewage systems. Holy Water can remain in receptacles for long periods of time if need be or if there is a need to clear out fonts or holy water receptacles, one should take the water and use it to water the earth outside a church or it can be poured down the sacrarium in the sacristy which is a sink where the pipes go directly into the earth.…

September 3rd, 2014

Question: I was raised Catholic but there are things I don’t believe any more, like praying for the dead and praying to Mary. Jesus is the only way to heaven. Can I attend Mass?

Yes. Actually, anyone can attend mass. Non-Catholics and even non Christians can attend Mass. All are always welcome and encouraged to come even out of mere curiosity.
I believe however, you are actually asking if you can receive communion. While the reception of communion is up to each individual, I would encourage you to think about this carefully. By receiving communion you are stating that you believe in all the elements of the creed. If there are things in the creed that you don’t believe, then that’s a good sign that…

September 2nd, 2014

The easy answer to start off with is that the water that is used is not holy water. It is ordinary flat water from a bottle or a faucet.
During the offertory part of the mass (Which begins the Liturgy of the Eucharist) the priest pours just a few drops of water into the chalice and then says: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
This is done to symbolize the water and blood that flowed from the side of Christ on the cross (John 19:33) after he was pierced with the soldier’s lance. It calls our attention to the fact that what is human (our gifts of bread and wine) will become divine soon in the consecration.
The prescription…

August 13th, 2014

Question: I know its a touchy subject but I was always taught that people who committed suicide would go to hell. I read a article that said the churches got together and literally started saying this to keep people from killing themselves because their lives were poor, ect and thought they could just kill themselves and go to heaven to be in a better place. Does this make sense? So is this teaching untrue?…
The Church’s teaching is ever evolving with new discoveries and her teaching on suicide is no different.
In today’s times, we know much more about mental illness than ever before. We now know that anyone who commits suicide is not in control over their own actions. For something to be sinful, by definition,

August 8th, 2014

This question was submitted to Busted Halo’s Summer School Contest.
Q: My question is about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As a convert, I have always wondered about the sins I committed before I became Catholic. Because I was Protestant, I did not go to confession, but instead asked for forgiveness directly from God, without a priest in prayer. Are those sins forgiven or do I have to go to confession for them? Am I living in past sin?…
Forgetfulness is not a sin, so if you merely forgot to mention these, then it’s just suggested that you add them to your next confession. If you purposely withheld them, then that is a sin (often called a sacrilege), and you will need to confess that you purposely withheld these

August 1st, 2014

Lately, we’ve been bombarded with so many sad events. From the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down in Ukraine, to children and others fleeing Central America because of unbearable gang violence, to the fighting between Israel and Palestine, the world indeed looks like a precarious place.
In times like these, we are called to pray for and to do whatever is necessary for peace. And Pope Francis has given us good examples of both.
Regarding the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, Pope Francis drew attention especially to minors seeking asylum from the violence and oppression in a speech directed mostly at Mexico, but with a clear call for U.S. immigration policy officials to pay attention.
“Such a humanitarian…

June 20th, 2014
How to pick your team for World Cup 2014

Having trouble picking a team to root for in this year’s World Cup? As the competition heats up, here’s a guide (broken down by World Cup groups) to some of the teams’ Catholic roots.
BRAZIL (Group A)…
Not only is Brazil the host country of World Cup 2014, but for centuries Catholicism has been the biggest religion in the country. Brazilians threw one heck of a party for Pope Francis on Copacabana beach last summer during World Youth Day, and that might be enough reason to give them your support. The team has a player named Hulk who gives them a clear edge. He was recently injured and is muddling through the tournament. But you can’t keep a Hulk down for too long. By the way, there’s a huge statue of Jesus in Rio de

June 19th, 2014

“I remember in Brazil, they’d provided for me an enclosed Popemobile, but I cannot greet the people and tell them I love them inside a sardine can, even if it is made of glass. For me it is a wall.” — Pope Francis to La Vanguardia, a Spanish newspaper…
We’ve got one cool pope. The guy greets large crowds all the time, kisses kids on the head, drinks coffee from strangers, and reportedly sneaks out at night to visit the homeless.
So, perhaps the popemobile, a vehicle with bulletproof glass on all sides, is sending the wrong message.
I remember when the popemobile first arrived on the scene after the attempted assassination of John Paul II. We all thought it was kind of cool, but it did seem to restrict

May 16th, 2014

Earlier this week, Pope Francis ordained 13 new priests, and he took great pains in announcing what he considered their main job to be as clerics: Be merciful.
In his homily, the pope said that he gets upset when he no longer sees people going to confession because people were “scolded” by their confessors, “as if the church doors were closed in their face.”
“Please don’t do this,” the pope told 13 new priests he ordained in the basilica. He used the example of Jesus who never tired of showing mercy to others. Pope Francis said priests should remember that Jesus “didn’t come to condemn but to forgive.” More from Vatican Radio:
He called on the newly ordained to “be…

April 29th, 2014

Q: Sometimes I cannot keep an erection long enough for my wife to climax. Is it a sin if I manually or orally complete her climax? Is it a sin if my wife manually or orally completes my climax? The older I get (I am 71) the more often this happens. I love my wife and could not see a day I would not like to try to make love to her.
Not every single sexual act, per se, need be procreative, but within a “sexual session,” if you will, there needs to be “openness” to procreative activity. In this case, you are in fact being open to procreation, but your age and your physical limitations prevent the pregnancy naturally. Normally, these acts would only be used as “foreplay” to pro-creative sexual activity…

April 25th, 2014
Papal Saints John Paul II and John XXIII will be canonized — is Oscar Romero far behind?

Upon the death of John Paul II, the chants began in the streets of Rome: “Santo Subito! Santo Subito!” (“Sainthood now!”)
Now a pope doesn’t make a saint willy-nilly; this takes careful deliberation. When the process of making saints began, they were named by acclimation of the people in a particular area. That is why we have names like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Anthony of Padua. When the full population in an area followed the example and began calling a person a saint, it stuck. (Obviously, that kind of system can be abused and actually the Church has gone back and removed some saints from the rolls because they frankly just didn’t measure up.)
John Paul II will be named a saint by Pope Francis. Some would…

April 23rd, 2014

We usually talk about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost, the feast we celebrate 50 days after Easter when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. These spiritual gifts are given to us by God and are intended to guide the way we live our lives. It’s God’s hope that we nurture these gifts in order to become who God wants us to be.
Signs that we are appropriately harnessing these gifts are the Fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The presence of these fruits in our lives is a good sign that…

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