Busted Halo
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Neela Kale :
166 article(s)

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
June 6th, 2012

Did your future brother-in-law do something silly and harmless, or was it inappropriate enough that you have concerns for your sister’s well-being? If his behavior reveals a pattern of disrespect for himself, for your sister, and for the marriage vows he is about to take, there is more at play than one evening’s indiscretion.
A good approach might be to speak with him first. Tell him that you are concerned about what you saw because of what it might mean for the future. Suggest that he talk about it with your sister — if something serious happened, it’s better for her to hear it directly from him. But if he’s defensive about it, then you probably should speak with her. If her fiancé’s…

May 3rd, 2012

The word “hex”, meaning a spell or curse, derives from a German word for practicing sorcery; the word “jinx”, meaning something that brings bad luck, may derive from the Latin name of a bird used in witchcraft in ancient times. Catholics do not believe in either, nor in the many similar superstitions abounding in popular culture. The idea of a supernatural being who can be called upon by a magic formula to bring harm to another belongs to a medieval world view. Today, we know that the mischief of Satan – the word means “adversary” or “accuser” – happens within. Human beings cause plenty of damage out of our own sinfulness without any outside help. Things like hexes and jinxes exist only on the pages…

April 26th, 2012

It is always better to root for someone than to root against someone. What you really hope for is your team’s success, not the opponent’s failure, even though the latter is a necessary consequence of the former. (An even better attitude would be to hope that the best team may win, but for many sports fans that’s too much to ask.) In any case, your question applies to healthy, friendly competition on the playing field. In that realm, as you’re perched on the edge of your seat lauding or lamenting, it’s okay to wish that every play go your way. It would be a sin to cheat or sabotage the game to put your team at an advantage. But just cheering for the outcome you desire is fine. And when the game is over, be gracious, set…

April 19th, 2012

Suffering and death are part of life, for humans and animals alike. We strive to eliminate unnecessary suffering brought about by cruelty and sin. But there is no such thing as a life without suffering, in spite of what popular culture promises. For human beings, suffering can be redemptive and lead one to a deeper commitment to Christ who suffered and died for us on the cross. For animals, the natural suffering of old age also seems to be a part of God’s plan for them as God’s creatures.
In an affluent culture, some people spend money on medical interventions to prolong pets’ lives in a way that would have been unimaginable a generation ago and that remains unimaginable in places where such sophisticated medical…

April 12th, 2012

In a word, yes. Our whole moral law rests on the great commandment given to us by Jesus: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. … You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:36-40). It is difficult to imagine truly loving our neighbors without attention to their needs, especially if they are poor. And one of the most beautiful and challenging implications of Christianity is that everyone is our neighbor. Just because someone looks different or lives on the other side of the world doesn’t mean that he or she is not my brother or sister. I still have a responsibility to any fellow human being in need.
That can be a daunting responsibility,…

April 5th, 2012

Question: If I’m poor, can I drive to work with an expired registration and risk not getting caught? Or am I morally bound to renew it as a Catholic?
Being poor does not give you an excuse to break the law – imagine what would happen if everyone decided to stop complying with regulations that seem unaffordable. Revenue derived from them is public money, to be used on public projects for public benefit. (How well this happens in every particular case and jurisdiction is outside the scope of the question.) Without this money, services would suffer. While exact formulas vary from state to state, car registration fees generally pay for transportation-related services like road maintenance, which we all need. As…

March 29th, 2012

No matter what your profession, you can’t leave your moral obligations at the door when you report for work. You have to strive to do what is right, whether no one ever sees you or whether you’re dogged by cameras 24/7. And anyone in the public eye has an extra responsibility to avoid causing another person to stumble (that’s the literal meaning of the word “scandal”: a stumbling block.) Catholics must never give the impression that what they are doing is right if in fact it’s not, lest others imitate them and end up sinning by ignorance. So you’ll want to ask yourself carefully what might be required of you as an actor on a reality show. Will you be pressured to be disrespectful or exploit others? How will…

March 22nd, 2012

The image of marriage in popular culture, as presented on “The Bachelorette,” is a serious distortion of the real meaning of marriage, as understood in the Catholic tradition. Both involve two people expressing love for one another and making some kind of promise. But the scripted, syrupy progression of love on reality TV — heavy on romance and sexual attraction, light on sacrifice and profound commitment — can’t hold up to the stresses of real reality.
One of the underlying questions in Catholic morality is, “Who do I want to become, and how can I get there?” Rather than just asking if something is a sin and acting accordingly, asking this question helps you grow into a better person.…

March 15th, 2012

Did your future brother-in-law do something silly and harmless, or was it inappropriate enough that you have concerns for your sister’s well-being? If his behavior reveals a pattern of disrespect for himself, for your sister, and for the marriage vows he is about to take, there is more at play than one evening’s indiscretion.
A good approach might be to speak with him first. Tell him that you are concerned about what you saw because of what it might mean for the future. Suggest that he talk about it with your sister — if something serious happened, it’s better for her to hear it directly from him. But if he’s defensive about it, then you probably should speak with her. If her fiancé’s behavior at his…

March 8th, 2012

The Masons are a worldwide fraternal organization which originated in 18th century Europe. Membership includes ritual practice, charitable activity and adherence to a moral code; members seek to develop a broader sense of the self in relation to the divine. Masons must declare belief in a supreme being, but more specific views are not required. Hence Masons admit members of any religion, but many tenets of Masonry directly conflict with Church teaching. Masons hold a deistic rather than personal view of God, which precludes the Catholic understanding of God as Father, Son and Spirit. They also take a relativistic view of truth and religion, while Catholics believe that objective truth does exist and can be…

February 23rd, 2012

Question: If I caught a student cheating, but he’d lose a scholarship to a good college if I turn him in, should I look the other way? He is poor and from the inner city.…
This is a complex moral dilemma. Catholic moral teaching is that one cannot do evil that good may come of it — thus in spite of his noble goal of going on to college, the student’s cheating cannot be justified. Similarly, no matter how noble your goal of ensuring his scholarship, you cannot justify overlooking his dishonesty. However, the Church also recognizes that any moral act is comprised of the object, the intention and the circumstances. No moral act happens in isolation; the object (the nature and severity of the particular act of cheating),

February 22nd, 2012

If you’re already familiar with the US Bishops’ document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, you’re off to a good start. This document, reissued in 2011 in anticipation of the presidential election cycle, helps Catholics discern how the teaching of the Church can apply in matters of public policy. Check out the USCCB website at http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/ for the full text of the document and many other excellent resources. Your next step should be to inform yourself more deeply about the particular issues that are at stake. What policies are being proposed on your local or state ballot, and what does the Church have to say about these issues? What local, state and national offices…

February 16th, 2012

As Catholics participating in civic life we have the responsibility to inform ourselves about candidates and issues and to form ourselves with the teaching of the Church, rather than blindly (or lazily) following any kind of party line. Thus you should ask if the positions of the Tea Party are in keeping with the principles of your Catholic faith. The Tea Party, actually a coalition of local and national groups rather than a political party, promotes fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free market economics. A key principle of Catholic social teaching which can be instructive here is subsidiarity — the idea that decisions should be made at the most local level possible in…

February 9th, 2012

The Catholic Church’s teaching on all aspects of human sexuality is derived from our belief that God created human beings, male and female, out of love, and gave us a special vocation to love and to communion. As summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity” (CCC, 2335). Thus much of our teaching on sexuality flows from reflection on that special union of man and woman. We believe that certain sexual expressions are reserved to that sacramental union. We also teach that sexual intimacy between a husband and wife has twin purposes: their union, as a couple, and procreation, expressed…

February 5th, 2012

Q: I’m a college basketball player. Am I bound to wear the Nike swoosh on my jersey and wear their sneakers if I have a problem with their human rights record? The school has an exclusive deal with them.
To answer your immediate question, look closely at the terms of your agreement with the school. You are probably required to wear your official team gear when you play or travel in representation of the college. Talk with a coach or counselor to find out if there is a conscience exception. If there isn’t, draft one and submit it to the appropriate campus official. To address your larger question, recognize that as a leader on your campus, you have an opportunity to use your status to work for change. Tell everyone that…

January 22nd, 2012

Q: As a real estate agent can I ask for a price above fair market value if I believe that the client will pay it anyway?
A: In negotiating a real estate transaction, you must consider the value of the property, your own time and effort, any additional costs associated with the sale, and the needs and means of the clients you represent. We depend on the market to weigh these valid competing interests. But the market, shaped by macroeconomic forces, does not always reflect the understanding of justice found in Catholic social teaching. A good question for you to ask yourself is: What is just? It is just for you, as the real estate agent, to receive appropriate compensation for your labor. It is just for the purchaser to pay…

December 22nd, 2011

One beautiful Christmas tradition in the Philippines is the novena known as Simbang Gabi, from Tagalog words meaning “night worship” (sometimes translated as “misa de gallo” or “mass of the rooster” because of the early morning hour at which these masses are celebrated.)
Spanish missionaries instituted the custom of celebrating masses on the nine days before Christmas, bringing together the entire community to prepare for the birth of Christ; the early morning hour allowed fishermen and farmers to participate before setting out for the day’s labor. After the Simbang Gabi masses, villagers would socialize and share festival foods.
Today Simbang Gabi masses are celebrated not only in the…

November 24th, 2011

Marriage in the Catholic Church is different from civil marriage. It is no mere legal contract, easily made and easily broken; rather, it is a covenantal relationship in which a man and woman commit their whole selves to each other, in love and fidelity, for the rest of their lives. The Church recognizes marriage as a sacrament, a special sign of God’s love in the world for the couple and for those around them, especially any children that they are blessed to have. In short, it’s a big deal. So the Church wants to be absolutely certain that couples enter into marriage only after the proper preparation that, with God’s grace, allows them to freely make this commitment and be true to it for richer or poorer, for better…

November 17th, 2011

Fees for a wedding ceremony go directly to the parish and are generally applied to administrative expenses: church upkeep and utilities, staff time and paperwork. The pastor receives a salary from the parish; weddings and other celebrations are part of his job and he isn’t paid according to how many he does. But, as you well know, a lot of time and energy goes into preparing a couple for marriage and into preparing for the wedding liturgy itself. Also, as you can probably imagine, the pastor isn’t paid very much – no one enters the ministry seeking to get rich! Thus it is gracious of you to offer a small sum to the priest who witnesses your marriage, as a way to thank him for his effort in helping you to prepare. The…

November 10th, 2011

If you’re planning a Catholic wedding, then you and your fiancé have been working closely with your priest throughout the preparation process. He has probably met with you many times, helped you to arrange for an engaged encounter and/or marriage preparation classes, and guided you through the liturgical planning for the ceremony. Over this time you have come to know each other fairly well and he has become an important support for you as you prepare to enter the sacrament of marriage. Not only is it appropriate for you to invite him to the reception, but it is also a kind way to thank him for helping you on the journey. He would be delighted to celebrate with you – priests enjoy a good party as much as anyone else!…

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