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Mike Hayes :
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Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
February 17th, 2010

Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent,… when Catholics (and some Protestant denominations) take time to remind themselves that life indeed is limited: that we will die.
The Ash Wednesday ritual is simple.  Catholics place ashes on their foreheads as a visible reminder to others that they acknowledge that their bodies will turn to ash one day, that life is indeed precarious, but that they are also a resurrection people.
Catholics believe that more lies beyond this end, and so the ashes are marked by the sign of faith — the cross — at once a symbol of God’s destruction and His greatest triumph.
We listen to the words that the priest or minister says to us as he places the ashes on our forehead: “Remember that you are

February 16th, 2010

Literally translated as “Fat Tuesday,” Mardi Gras is a celebration that takes place the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The idea is that people pig out on the foods that they are going to restrict themselves from during the Lenten fast. In some ways it’s akin to storing up for the long haul, like a bear that goes into hibernation. In this case however, it’s a mostly cultural phenomenon that gives people an excuse to party and to participate in debauchery.
Other countries often have similar celebrations called “Carnivale” which is translated “without meat” and thus provides people the opportunity once again to eat much before depriving themselves of…

February 11th, 2010

Concupiscence is the term the church uses to describe our own human disordered inclination to sin.  These include disordered desires (desires that go against God’s plan for what’s best for us).  Even after we regain God’s grace in confession we still have this tendency to sin again.  None of us are perfect and we all fall under the weight of concupiscence but because God knows His creatures so well, he understands our nature and forgives us and gives us the chance to try again.
We all have things that tie us up and that keep us in their grip–all the things we are tempted by and that we desire in an unhealthy way can all be attributed to this weak tendency of ours which we term as our concupiscence.…

January 21st, 2010

Hamartiology is simply put, the study of sin.  Hamartia is a Greek word meaning “missing the mark” and coupled with the word logia or “discourse,” we get the word for studying sin.
In general, Hamartiology is a division of systematic theology, so when you are looking for courses on Hamartiology you would probably find it in courses that fall under the “systematics” genre in theology.…

January 7th, 2010

It’s always uncomfortable for people to give and get criticism.  But when offered and received from a place of charity, it can often be a good thing.
A priest friend of mine some time ago told me that he welcomes criticism, especially on the weeks that he knows he was feeling a bit “off” in his delivery or preparation.  In fact he also says that he needs to hear from his parishioners to know whether he’s reaching them and ministering to their needs as a preacher.
I would say the following.  A homily criticism shouldn’t be the first interaction that you have with your priest.  He deserves an opportunity to get to know you and for you to get to know him.  Secondly, in the waning…

December 18th, 2009

An interesting question that has more to do with art than religion!
The answer is that it really depends on the artist who made the crucifix.  Take a look at a number of different crucifixes…
Some have Jesus with his head bowed depicting his death.  The artist wants us to concentrate on a Jesus who died for us.  Another might show Jesus kind of pumped up and looking refreshed.  This artist wants to show that the cross cannot hold Jesus back from defeating death.  A third might show a twisted agonizing face of Jesus which allows the viewer to concentrate on a God who suffers for his people.
So yes, there is some symbolism there but it varies with each artist’s depiction of what they are asking us to…

December 16th, 2009

Yes.  A cross is simply the “t-shaped” instrument that was used for crucifixion which now, bears more of a symbol of triumph for Christians.  A crucifix however, is any image of that same cross with Jesus’ body (known as the corpus) depicted on it.
Catholics are free to wear either and to have either on display in their churches although most Catholic Churches would choose to have a crucifix on display while many Protestant churches opt for the cross.  In other cultures the image depicted on the crucifix may also be more vivid depicting a suffering Jesus more dramatically as well.

December 9th, 2009

Images of Jesus, Mary, and the saints usually painted in a gesture of blessing meant as an aid to prayer and meditation, directing our minds and hearts to that holy person.  These are very popular in the Greek Orthodox Church especially.  Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words so here is a picture of an icon.…

December 1st, 2009

The letters refer to the different “orders” that the priest or sister belong to.   For example:
Fr James Martin, S.J. :   S.J. stands for Society of Jesus which is the formal name for the Jesuits.  So Fr Jim would be a Jesuit priest.
Fr David Dwyer, C.S.P.:  C.S.P. stands for Community of St Paul which is the formal name for the Paulists.  So Fr Dave is a Paulist Father.
Sr. Christine Wilcox, O.P.:  O.P. stands for Order of Preachers which is the formal name of the Dominicans.   So Sr. Christine is a Dominican Sister.
As you can see sometimes the letters stand for what the order’s charism is as it does for the Dominicans who have a central mission regarding preaching.
Now I know what…

November 26th, 2009

The two most popular Catholic prayers that surround food traditions are the simple “Grace Before Meals” and “Grace After Meals.”
One need not pray these prayers on Thanksgiving if you are Catholic, prayers from your own words are, of course, fine.
However, if you are looking for more structure in your prayer these two simple ones work well.
Grace Before Meals
Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord.  Amen.
Grace After Meals…
We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for all thy benefits, Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.
While Grace After Meals is seldom ever prayed it indeed does express Thanksgiving.  The

November 25th, 2009

Question: I was just wondering why does there seem to be a definite split between different religious orders (Franciscan, Jesuit, Benedictine, ect)?  I know that each was founded by different people of faith with different emphasizes.  I guess my question is why does there seem to be some negativeness between certain orders?  Is there a negative history between certain orders or is it like college rivalries, where you, for example, don’t like Purdue just because you root for Indiana University?…
You are correct in stating that there are wide differences between religious orders and sometimes these differences even cause splits WITHIN religious communities.  Just look at all the

November 18th, 2009

My question: My Spiritual Director says that if I am in touch with Jesus and keep a regular and good relationship with Him (through personal prayer, Word of God, mass etc), I can receive all I need from Him i.e. all my needs can be satisfied from Him. However, I personally feel that there are some things that I cannot receive from Him. For example, sometimes when I pray, I dont get the comfort that I would have got if I had spent that time with a friend. Many times I feel the need for a hug or a touch. If I pray at that time, it doesn’t satisfy as much as getting a real hug. Is this because the ‘quality’ of my prayer hasn’t reached that level OR is it because some needs just have to be fulfilled from other humans…

October 23rd, 2009

Since you’ve only known this girl a few months I would be very cautious about jumping into marriage too quickly. It’s the number one reason that annulments and divorces happen. Let’s put that out there first of all.
I think you need to explore the reasons as to why you have cold feet. It also sounds to me like perhaps people are pressuring you to get married –which is never a good reason to get married. I might suggest talking with a counselor or a priest that you trust about this.
Marriage is a sacramental partnership and it is never a 50-50 partnership. Rather it is a 100%-100% partnership where each person totally gives themselves to one another and grows in love. You needn’t be the “Head…

October 3rd, 2009
Making my peace with the blessing of the animals

If you’ve ever seen dog owners walking to church with their pooches in ridiculous outfits, sprayed with doggie perfume and a bow in their fur you’ve stumbled upon the annual “blessing of the animals” on the Feast Day of St Francis, October 4. In years past I witnessed one woman’s dog in a top hat and tails. Another dressed in a doggy business suit. A third looked like a clown (both dog and master).
I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when I overheard conversations in the pews about how smart their silly mutt was and how much love they received coming home to the wagging tail that greeted them at the door. Owners shared recipes about what they cook for their pets, talked about what…

September 19th, 2009

There are a few. BustedHalo.com is a sub-division of a larger ministry outreach called Paulist Young Adult Ministries, a national ministry for young adults. If you check out our Church Search and Events sections (under faith guides) you should find some good places to go.
Secondly, NCYAMA is the National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association and we work very closely with them. In fact, I’m the President of the board of directors. Check them out at www.ncyama.org or by calling 1-888-ncyama1.
Mike Hayes is the Senior Editor for Googling God…

September 13th, 2009

The answer, simply put, is “yes,” but it is also not merely up to the priest to decide.  If by your question you mean that the priest sits before the eucharist is reserved by the deacon to the tabernacle than yes, that is OK.  There is no prescription that states that he cannot sit and the faithful also do not have to take their lead from him. They can remain kneeling even while he is sitting.
If you are saying that the priest simply left the Eucharist on the altar and didn’t return it to the tabernacle before mass finished, than that is actually against the rubrics.
However, it doesn’t sound like that is your question:
Cardinal Arinze who is the prefect for worship at the Holy See stated that…

September 2nd, 2009

A bishop is a priest who receives “the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders” (CCC, 1557) and is the visible head of a particular local church. Their first task is to be a teacher of the faith, “preaching the gospel to all” (CCC, 888). Bishops are also “sanctifiers,” meaning they are the ones who ordain other men to the priesthood.
Bishops stem from the first Apostles. Christ chose the Apostles to be the people who would spread the gospel to all nations. They acted together as a body or a “college,” but they also spread out to preach the good news to local areas. Bishops have succeeded these original disciples and have a presence as the rulers of the Church in local…

August 29th, 2009

Your question is an interesting one and one we’ve talked about before.  While you have good intentions in trying to keep your Sunday obligation to God by listening to the podcast of mass, you’re missing one of the main elements that we have at mass which is the community.
Mass is not just about our own relationship between God and oursleves but also it’s about our relationship to the community that we live in as well–it’s about coming together as a community and praying with one another.  We remember that not one of the disciples shared the last supper with Jesus alone, rather they ate the first Eucharist together.
So the question here is not merely about punching your mass attendance…

August 27th, 2009

Dreams are simply manifestations of one’s UNCONSCIOUS mind.  For sin to be considered sin we have to CONSCIOUSLY choose them.  So no, your sin in your dream is not something you need to confess.
However…(there’s always a however) you may be pushing down some of your innate desires and they are manifesting themselves in your dreams.  Dreams indeed do tell us a bit about ourselves and what we truly wish we could do, or perhaps they invent solutions to things that are troubling us that we work out in our subconscious.
So as an example, if we dream about having a liaison with someone we’re not married to, we might want to address what our dream is telling us and to try to have more chaste…

August 22nd, 2009

Burying the statue of St Joseph in your backyard offers no guarantee of the house actually being sold.  What it does offer is that St Joseph will pray for a successful sale of your home.
That sale may just take some time.  Perhaps he is looking for the right buyer, or the right time, or when the economy is better?  Who knows?  But suffice it to say that burying the second statue certainly can’t hurt your chances of it being sold–nor is it something that you shouldn’t do.  Burying the statue upside down is simply an old ritual that people developed themselves and that some have found success with.  But it’s not a magical formula that guarantees a sale–that would mean…

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