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Richard G. Malloy, SJ :
102 article(s)

Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D., is Vice President for University Ministries, the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, and author of A Faith That Frees (Orbis Books).
July 23rd, 2014

Q: The Movie Son of God has details that do not appear in the Gospels, e.g. Peter returning from the empty tomb and immediately celebrating the Eucharist. Is this allowed?
Sure. St. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises suggests the person making the retreat imagine Jesus appearing to his mother Mary. The Gospels don’t tell of this, but our imaginations can envision such an event happening.
Movie like Son of God are imaginative recreations of the central truths of the Gospels. God often works powerfully through our graced imaginations. Our love for and appreciation of who Jesus was, is and will be, is often powerfully influenced by imaginative works from Dante’s Divine Comedy to Jesus Christ Superstar.
Einstein…

July 16th, 2014

It seems to me that God is much more concerned with what happens in our board rooms than in our bedrooms. Billions on this planet live in poverty. Most Americans have no awareness of how money is really distributed in our country.
Our faith clearly states concern for the poor and economic justice is central to our faith.
Here are three quotes from the Catechism:
“There also exist sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women. These are in open contradiction of the Gospel” (CCC #1938).
“Solidarity is manifested in the first place by distribution of goods and remuneration for work. It also presupposes the effort for a more just social order…” (CCC #1940).
“The equal dignity of human persons…

July 11th, 2014

This question was submitted to Busted Halo’s Summer School Contest.
Q: In some denominations, the primary function of missionaries is to attempt conversion of the unchurched or non-practicing members of another religion to Christianity. Is this type of direct evangelization a common practice in Catholicism? Parishes are often asked to support missionaries, but we are asked to support a mission of service, not conversion. Just wondering.…
In years prior to Vatican II, there was often a sense that if one died without being baptized in the Catholic Church they would be denied entrance into heaven. 16th century missionaries like Francis Xavier were greatly concerned with getting people baptized. Developments

July 9th, 2014

God is love and all we believe and do must be congruent with that primordial and primary truth. So preaching “hate” is always contradictory and unacceptable. What the Church teaches and preaches is chastity, i.e., “the successful integration of sexuality within the person.” (Catechism #2237). We should know homosexuality is not a sin. There are many people who experience homosexual orientation. The reality of finding one a homosexual is not a sin. Homosexual sexual acts… take place outside of sacramental marriage and cannot fulfill an openness to procreation within that act, which is a requirement for marital sexual relations.
Heterosexual sexual acts also are considered sinful by the Church when

July 2nd, 2014

As often as necessary. We need to form our habits for our habits form us. To repent often and whole heartedly turns us into people who are habitually open to the transformative grace of God’s mercy. Scott Hahn has a good book on confession. In there he says confession is like medicine. You keep going to the Doctor and getting the pill you need for your blood pressure, or ointment you need for that nagging rash. In the same way, we go to the sacrament of reconciliation as often as we have “missed the mark,” which is the literal translation of the Greek word for “sin” (harmatia) in the New Testament.
If you haven’t been to confession in some time here’s a video that details some of the steps to confession.…

May 26th, 2014

Q: How do we remain optimistic and keep the faith when we are in the valley, during our lowest of the low? When we feel like Job — everything goes wrong, everything bad happens, and we are ready to throw in the towel, when it becomes a pity party and we don’t WANT to hear advice from others…
“Life is Difficult” were the first words of Scott Peck’s phenomenal late 1970s best seller The Road Less Traveled…. The first thing to do when we are suffering is to know this is normal. Everyone suffers; why should not we? The psalms are full of laments. Secondly, pray and try and know that God is in the suffering. God doesn’t promise us a life without suffering, but God does promise to be with us in our suffering.

May 19th, 2014

No, your friend did not go to hell.
The Catechism clearly states,
“We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives” (#2283).

We realize that those who take their own lives are often mentally impaired, and really think that their death will make things better for everyone. There are many good websites where we can educate ourselves about suicide: see http://www.afsp.org/ and http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/…

May 12th, 2014

I hear this question rather frequently from college students. I gently reply, first, in the Catholic church, we don’t “take,” we “receive,” communion. By receiving communion we are signaling, i.e., sign-ing (Sacraments are “signs”), that we are trying to live our lives according to the teachings of the Catholic faith. Communion is not the cookie at the end of the meal. Communion is much more like a fraternity or sorority pin. You can go to the GREEK party, but you don’t wear the frat’s pin unless you pledge and join the fraternity. I invite those who are not receiving communion to feel free and encouraged to come forward and receive a blessing by crossing their arms across their chest to signal…

January 10th, 2014

As Catholic followers of Jesus, we are called to love one another. How to do that in situations where people need to migrate calls for bold discernment and communal discussion. Justiceforimmigrants.org is the official website of the U.S. Bishops teaching us how to respond to immigration issues. Having recently spent a week at Border Links and KINO Border Initiative on the Arizona Mexico Border, I am more and more aware that real people suffer the insanities of our present immigration policy. For them, we need real immigration reform with a path to citizenship.…

January 9th, 2014

Not at all. St. Ignatius taught that in order to serve God we are to follow our deepest truest desires. God will place in our hearts and minds the desire to do what will best serve God and others. Parents often find such desires to serve their children welling up from the depths of their own hearts. Priests too find the desire to preach, celebrate sacraments, and serve the people of God welling up in our prayer. A priest’s relationship with Jesus is central and often cause for great joy, despite challenges. Married couples too find joy amidst the challenges. Single people receive the graces they need for their state in life.
Too many people have the deeply mistaken impression that priests are unhappy. Actually research…

November 27th, 2013

I have personally known 2 women now who chose to become nuns, but midway through their education, had a change of heart. Did God call them to these positions but decide they’d be better fit as mothers?
Who knows? Only God knows the human heart. Vocations are mysterious and often take people on paths unexpected and rarely straight.
People enter religious life for many reasons. It’s an old observation among those of us privileged to be members of religious orders that, “You enter for various reasons; but you stay for other reasons.”
The most radical reality of our faith is that God deals with us as free persons (Gal 5:1). Life isn’t some game show where there is Door #1, #2 and #3 and you have to guess which…

November 21st, 2013

I assume you’re asking here how Jesus can be both divine and human. Well, that has been the question ever since the resurrection and before. A great old Jesuit theology professor ours, Brian Daley, S.J., once said the Mystery of the Trinity is “Three Whos in One What.” The Mystery of the Incarnation is “Two whats in One Who.”
Richard McBrien’s magisterial Catholicism roots the Christian understanding of God in the reality of the Trinity. But we could not know the Trinity without Jesus having come and “lived [literally ‘tabernacled’] among us” (John 1:14).
O’Brien goes on to say we are interested in Jesus because Jesus saves us. And, “If he is not truly God, then he could not SAVE us. If he…

November 14th, 2013

Question: When one of your friend’s, who does not attend church on a regular basis, states that he feels he is being called by God, what do you say?
Why say anything? Just say a prayer and ask God to guide the person. God is running things. We don’t have to be overseeing the movements of God’s grace. The Holy Spirit blows where the Spirit will. God moves in mysterious ways. It is much better to wonder and contemplate God’s mystery than assume we know how people should be acting.
Often those who don’t seem to be following religious practices, as we think they should, are open to God in ways we may not recognize. The “I’m spiritual but not religious” crowd is mostly made up of those who are actually neither.…

November 12th, 2013

Question: I have family members who are very into the Latin form of the Mass. These family members, every time they get a chance, try to shove their beliefs on my husband and I. They try to show us how the Novus Ordo form of Mass is wrong and not legitimate and that we shouldn’t still be a part of it. My question is, do you have any suggestions as to how to just make them SHUT UP! It is getting to the point that I am tempted to start making excuses to not go to family events.
You have heard the old adage, when spouses fight, they often aren’t really fighting about the thing over which they seem to be fighting.
First, ask yourself if you really want to fight with your family members over the Latin Mass. When they talk about how…

September 24th, 2013

Maybe it would help to ponder the famous saying of St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel always. Sometimes use words.”
We religious people can sometimes fall into the temptation of running ahead of the grace of God. Try and remember that God is involved in all this. It’s understandable that you want your husband to find the peace and power, the joy and justice, the life and love, that you have found by attending church. Still, you have to let God get to your husband’s mind and heart. Pray to know what God would have you do to help God reach your husband. Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit, not only our efforts. But don’t be afraid to gently challenge your husband. You want to invite, but not nag, your husband to…

September 17th, 2013

Questions: If God doesn’t live in heaven, where does God live? Maybe better formulated is, When does God live? In the past, the present, or the future?…
God is everywhere and every when. The great adventure of life is allowing grace to form us into persons who can be united with God forever. Pope Benedict XVI teaches in his magisterial Introduction to Christianity (1968) that heaven “is not to be understood as an everlasting place above the world or simply as a metaphysical region. … Heaven is not a place that, before Christ’s ascension, was barred off by a punitive decree of God’s, to be opened up one day in a positive way. On the contrary, the reality of heaven only comes into existence through the

September 10th, 2013

Dave Fleming, S.J, transposed St. Ignatius’ Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises into 21st century language. “The Goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.”
Faith is a gift given us. Faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen” (Heb. 11:1). We believe that God became what we are so we can become what God is. That’s not some Jesuit’s wild twist on theology. That’s St. Athanasius in the third century (CCC #460).
So, the answer to the question rests on what “having faith” means. Faith is not a thing one has; faith is a relationship one lives.…

September 3rd, 2013

The great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner said, “We know there is a heaven. We should be very humble in what we claim to know about it.” And quite comforting is St. Therese of Lisieux, who said “I believe in Hell, but I believe it is empty.” I Timothy 2:4 says,“God desires [that] everyone be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”
The truth is that all of us have lost loved ones. Where are they? How are they? Our beloved who have died are transformed. In their transformation in Christ, they have become and are being something radically transcendent and new. Rahner writes: “The great mistake of many people… is to imagine that those whom death has taken, leave us. They do not leave us. They remain! Where…

August 29th, 2013

If a marriage is unsustainable, or worse, violent, divorce is often the better option. No one should stay in an abusive situation. And I tell women, the first time he hits you, leave. Abusive, violent men rarely change. Our culture and our Church needs to do much more to teach men that physical violence against women is completely unacceptable. It’s not “wife abuse.” It’s “Cowardly Men Beating on Those Physically Weaker Than Them.” I wish newspapers would write headlines like, “245 lb. John Jones, a coward, beat up his 135 lb. wife last night. If you see him, turn him in.”
Abuse is also grounds for annulment. It signals that the person in question is not taking their marriage vows seriously and probably…

August 27th, 2013

Question: “Can I receive Communion even though I’m divorced? Why if you are Catholic and get divorced you can no longer attend the Church? Will that ever change? Is it better to stay in abusive marriages? I think not.
Answer: Spread this truth far and wide, because I hear too many who think divorced people cannot receive communion. You can receive communion if you are divorced. You are welcome to receive communion if you are divorced. My mother has been divorced for 46 years and has gone to Mass and received communion every Sunday. Our Church needs to provide more… programs for those who suffer divorce.
Divorce is hard and difficult. The Church recognizes with compassion that those who go through what is often

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