Busted Halo
author archive
Neela Kale :
169 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 3rd, 2011

Let’s imagine that your friend were sober and broke your phone by sheer accident. Should she feel obligated to compensate you? Yes. She is responsible for the damage, much the way one would be responsible for breaking a dish in a china shop. The fact that she was drunk implies negligence and increases her responsibility, rather than mitigating it. (Consider how a drunk driver who causes an accident incurs greater penalties than a sober driver.) So of course she should apologize for what happened and pay for the repair of your phone. It is reasonable for you to expect that.
As far as whether or not you should demand payment, ask yourself about the nature of your relationship. Is it a strong friendship, which will weather…

June 2nd, 2011

In the biblical notion of time, one day ends and another begins at sundown, rather than at 12:00 midnight. (Recall that “evening came, and morning followed – the first [etc.] day” in the creation story of Genesis 1:1-2:4a.) Thus when evening falls on Saturday, according to the understanding of the Church, Sunday begins. When you attend a Saturday evening mass, you hear the lectionary readings and prayers for Sunday; participating in this mass “counts” to fulfill your Sunday obligation. Anticipating the Sunday mass – celebrating it on Saturday evening – came about in the latter half of the 20th century, as the rhythms of modern life made attending Sunday morning mass increasingly difficult for…

May 19th, 2011

Certain holidays have greater importance in a given region or culture than in others because of the widely divergent traditions that are collectively called Hinduism. But some Hindu festivals are observed widely throughout India. Among these are Holi, the spring festival which commemorates the slaying of the demon Holika by Prahlad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Bonfires are lit to commemorate Prahlad’s escape from the demon; revelers throw colored water and powder at each other in celebration. The Durga Puja, falling in September-October, is a time dedicated to worship of the mother goddess Durga. Devotees prepare large images of the mother goddess and processions and worship services take place over a…

May 12th, 2011

Hindu religious texts are some of the world’s oldest sacred writings. A group of texts known as the Vedas, containing hymns and sacrificial formulas, originated in North Indian oral traditions and were written down from roughly 1500-500 BCE. These texts are described as “heard” and considered to be divinely revealed, as opposed to later “remembered” writings which are considered to be of human origin. Then the Upanishads, philosophical works that develop the spiritual teachings of the Vedas, emerged during the first millennium BCE. One particularly significant later text, embedded within a foundational epic called the Mahabharata, is the Baghavad Gita, the “Song of God.” It contains…

May 5th, 2011

The protests that have gripped the Middle East in recent months have had secular triggers: rampant poverty, high unemployment, government corruption and political oppression. While religious voices have been a part of the upheavals, they have not been at the forefront. Protesters clamor not for an Islamic state but for democracy and individual freedoms, ideas that some see as Western imports foreign to Islam. However, religion is so deeply rooted in culture – and vice versa – that the nascent process of political change in the Muslim world must chart its own distinctively Muslim course. Political turmoil exposes other fractures in society, as revealed by recent sectarian clashes in Egypt. In Egypt and…

April 26th, 2011

According to the formula of the Church established at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325, Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. (Note that the ecclesiastical designation of the spring equinox and the full moon does not always correspond to the astronomical designation.) This date was chosen in keeping with the date of the Jewish Passover, from which Easter, the Christian Passover, was derived. Eastern and Western Church authorities have defined the spring equinox and the full moon differently, however, and since the Gregorian reform of the calendar, the date of Easter in the Eastern and Western Churches is not always the same. Following the formula, Easter…

March 3rd, 2011

Officially, yes – Christianity is one of three religious minorities recognized by the Iranian government (the other two are Judaism and Zoroastrianism.) The Islamic Republic of Iran is officially a theocracy, in which political and religious authority are intertwined. Shia Islam is the state religion, but these three groups – which together make up barely 2% of the population – are protected and enjoy certain rights, such reserved seats in parliament. The majority of Christians in Iran are members of the Armenian Catholic Church or the Chaldean Catholic Church, both of which are in communion with Rome. Christians are viewed as ethnic minorities and must celebrate their liturgical rites in Armenian…

February 24th, 2011

Many cultures have traditions surrounding the Epiphany. In Spain and Latin America, Three Kings Day, rather than Christmas, is an occasion for gift-giving, and children set out their shoes the night before in hope of receiving a gift from the three kings. Greeks mark the day with a traditional blessing of the waters, when the ban on sailing on rough winter seas is lifted. German children sometimes carol in the streets carrying a star on a pole. And in Louisiana, Epiphany marks the beginning of the Carnival season; cakes are served with a small doll inside representing the baby Jesus.
The feast of the Epiphany (from a Greek word meaning “manifestation”) celebrates the revelation of God as a human being in Jesus…

February 10th, 2011

The word “cult”, in its original sense, refers to a collection of practices and rituals associated with a religion or with a particular aspect of a religion. This is how the word is primarily used in academic discourse. Thus we can speak of the cult of a particular saint in reference to the devotions associated with honoring that saint in Catholic Christianity, or the cult of worship of Vishnu in Hinduism, for example.
However, in more popular usage, the word “cult” has come to refer to exclusive or separatist religious groups, especially new groups, whose beliefs and practices fall outside the perceived mainstream. The word is often used pejoratively, to label a group’s expressions as threatening…

February 3rd, 2011

Q:  Do Hindus believe in Jesus? A friend told me that they believe in all gods.
Hinduism is an umbrella term for the indigenous religious traditions of South Asia, a vast subcontinent which is home to a wide diversity of belief and practice. However, certain principles are common among Hindus. Among these is the belief that there are many gods and goddesses, all of which are manifestations of one abstract supreme being. Unlike the Christian Trinity, one God in three persons, there is greater distinction among these deities, which have different mythologies and personalities. An individual person or a local community will have a particular devotion to one or a few of the deities, expressed in that person or community’s…

January 27th, 2011

Catholics believe that death is not the end of the human soul. The dead face a particular judgment which leads to damnation or salvation; those led to salvation may enter eternal life immediately or after a period of purification in purgatory. We don’t actually know what purgatory entails, although we do believe that we can have contact with the dead who have gone before us. That’s what we do when we pray for the intercession of the saints. But the Church does not teach that tormented souls linger on earth like the ghosts of popular imagination.
The Catholic Church does teach that a person or place can be possessed by the Evil One, although this is extremely, extremely rare. In such cases a Rite of Exorcism can be…

January 20th, 2011

What is the best Catholic response to any problem? Pray, then act.
Pray for those who suffer from religious violence and persecution, that they will find safety and be able to live free from fear and coercion. And pray for the conversion of those who enable or perpetrate violence, that they will come to respect the human dignity and freedoms of all people.
Then act. Educate yourself about the causes and effects of religious conflict in an area of the world that is important to you. Find an organization that is working to promote non-violence, tolerance and human dignity in that area and ask how you can help. You may be able to support the organization financially, educate others about the situation, join in a letter-writing…

January 13th, 2011

Tithing (from an old English word meaning “tenth”) is the practice of donating a tenth of one’s income to the Church. Since its earliest days the Church has taught that all its members have a responsibility to support its mission and ministry; tithing is a shorthand way of describing that obligation in financial terms.
However, like many shorthand expressions, it ultimately comes up short. God does not measure out blessings to us, but pours them out until our cups are filled up and running over. We are called to be just as generous when we share our blessings with others. To a wealthy person, ten percent may be so insignificant that he or she is called to give more; conversely, a poor person may be able to share…

January 6th, 2011

While the essentials of the Catholic marriage rite are the same throughout the world, the countless accoutrements that surround a wedding vary tremendously according to culture, region and economic status. Some Catholic brides in India wear red saris, while others choose white Western dresses; some couples stage elaborate engagement ceremonies, bridal showers and wedding receptions while others have much more humble celebrations. The Indian subcontinent is home to hundreds of cultures and each one has cherished traditions for the celebration of a wedding.
Here’s just one custom, to pique your interest: some Catholics in India incorporate the giving of the mangal sutra (also called a thali), a sacred…

December 30th, 2010

Historically the most significant religious violence in India has involved its two largest religious groups, Hindus and Muslims. Christians in India (the majority of whom are Catholic) make up scarcely 2% of the population, and thus for many years they have remained largely on the sidelines of the conflict between these larger groups. However, high-profile murders of priests and Christian religious workers have occurred in recent years, and devastating violence broke out against Christians in Orissa state in 2008 after the murder of a local Hindu guru. As in many parts of the world, issues of class and socioeconomic status conflate with religious identification, and the caste system, though officially…

December 16th, 2010

Once a couple has been properly prepared for a Catholic marriage, the actual celebration of the sacrament is extremely simple: all that is required is the presence of the couple, a priest or deacon who is the official witness of the Church, and two other witnesses. The couple express consent in the exchange their vows and then the priest or deacon gives them a nuptial blessing. All of the other trappings, from the white dress to the flower petals to the exchange of rings, are cultural. These expressions are important; they help to place the sacrament of marriage in the cultural context of the couple and their community and thus give meaning and joy to the celebration. Because the cultural symbols surrounding marriage…

December 9th, 2010

Exact statistics are elusive, but according to a survey by Forbes.com, an estimated 20 million pilgrims visit the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City every year. (By comparison, visitors to the Vatican number approximately 18 million.) The shrine houses the cloak of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, to whom Mary appeared on the hill of Tepeyac in 1531. She brought a message of hope and consolation to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, who had been brutally colonized by the Spaniards only a few years before. According to legend, she sent Juan Diego to the bishop with the request that a church be built in her honor on the site. When the unbelieving bishop asked for a sign, she sent Juan Diego to gather roses…

December 6th, 2010

St. Nicholas, upon whom the figure of Santa Claus is based, was the bishop of Myra (today called Demre), on the Mediterranean coast of modern-day Turkey. He lived from 270-346. Nicholas was renowned for his generosity and also revered as a miracle worker, although little is known about his life. According to legend, Nicholas secretly tossed bags of gold into the window of the home of a poor family whose three daughters had no dowry; by providing them the means to marry he saved them from a life of destitution. Nicholas was also said to have left coins in shoes left out for him as he passed by. Out of this legend grows the tradition in which children set out their shoes on the eve of his feast day, December 6, in the hopes of…

November 25th, 2010

Although Thanksgiving, with its roots in early colonial harvest festivals, is observed as an American civic holiday, the very idea of giving thanks points toward religious celebration. It is to God, first and foremost, that we give thanks. For Catholics, the most appropriate way to observe Thanksgiving is to go to mass: celebrating the Eucharist (a word which means “thanksgiving”) is our great way to offer thanks to God for our many blessings. Other Christians also observe thanksgiving with worship services.
But gratitude to God is a common theme across religious traditions.
For Jewish people, the seven-day fall harvest festival of Sukkot entails giving thanks to God for the gift of the harvest. Though…

November 18th, 2010

St. Teresa of Ávila, who lived from 1515-1582, was a Spanish theologian, writer, and mystic. She entered the Carmelite order as a teenager and, as she deepened her vocation and commitment through a dedicated practice of contemplative prayer, was dismayed by the laxity and worldliness that surrounded her even in religious life. In response she shepherded a significant reform of the Carmelite order which led to the founding of the Discalced Carmelites. She was especially known for her writings, including The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle and her autobiography. These striking examples of mystical literature trace her own experiences of faith and illustrate how the discipline of contemplative prayer…

powered by the Paulists