Busted Halo
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Richard G. Malloy, SJ :
103 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).
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

August 12th, 2013

Is foreplay against Catholic teaching?  Can I touch my girlfriend since her orgasm is not tied to fertility?…
Catholic teaching is set within a larger context, i.e., the invitation to form ourselves as the loving and generous persons God, and we, deeply desire ourselves to be.  These “is it against the church?” questions always make me want to challenge the minimalist assumptions behind the question.  Such questions are analogous to the ubiquitous classroom query, “Will this be on the test?”

God doesn’t ask us to do the minimum.  God asks us to do the more.  We are to be more loving, more generous, more self sacrificing, more habitually virtuous as a result of our relationship with Christ.  Reaching

August 9th, 2013

Why can’t people live together before marriage?…
Erma Bombeck once said “Living together is to marriage as babysitting is to being a parent.”  If living together before marriage was such a sure fire way to ensure a marriage’s success, divorce rates for those who cohabitate would be lower than those who don’t.  Actually the opposite is the case.  The Catholic Bishops website that helps young couples preparing for marriage www.foryourmarriage.org reports that marriages that come after cohabitation are 46% more likely to end in divorce.  Children are particularly vulnerable to the painful experiences that result from the dissolution of adults’ relationships.  “Forty percent

August 6th, 2013

Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Humanae Vitae… (On Human Life), clearly states there are at least “two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning” (HV #12). Certainly a husband and wife who cannot conceive a child are called to continue to express their love for one another (the unitive meaning). Sex is a gift and gifts are to be accepted and enjoyed. Just as a couple who are past child bearing years can relax and enjoy sex even more as their love deepens and ripens with age, so too can those who unfortunately cannot conceive still grow in their love for one another and express that love through their sexual union.
Secondly, the couple has no control over the natural rhythms

February 14th, 2012

Question: At bars, I kiss my roommate (we’re both female) to get the attention of guys. It’s just kinda fun and we think it’s harmless and we don’t go farther than that. Is that a sin?

There exist thin lines between harmless, dumb, stupid, harmful and sinful. Two women using their sexuality in “harmless” ways can often verge on doing or causing great harm. Why are you trying to get the attention on guys this way? What’s the difference between this and flashing your naked breasts?
Chastity is the integration of sexuality into our lives (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2337). Does making out with your girlfriend integrate or disintegrate sexuality in your lives?
St. Ignatius teaches

December 14th, 2011

Question: Should I have my kids only receive gifts for a charity this Christmas or would that be against our tradition?  We’re pretty well off but I understand that we really should exchange some kind of gift during the Christmas season?…
We live in convoluted and confusing times.  Before the present economic crisis, people in the USA spent $200 Billion a year on Christmas gifts (de Graff cited in Malloy 2007:144).  That’s $850 per person! (I need go get better friends).  All this to celebrate the birth of Jesus born in poverty.  We often give someone something they really don’t want or need, and, a few months later, cannot remember what the gift was (or what was given us in return).
Nowhere in canon

February 15th, 2011

Read Bustedhalo.com daily! =)
And read some of the classic reflections on faith and service like Thomas Merton’s letter to a young activist or the “Oscar Romero” prayer (which actually was penned by Bishop Ken Utener.
Read about the great ones: Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Read good contemporary spiritual writers: John Dear, S.J., Annie Lamott, Anthony DeMello, S.J., Richard Rohr, Megan McKenna. There are many more.
Read and re-read the gospels and try and attend Mass often. Usually, busyness can make it seem we have no time for prayer and reflection, but there are always 10 minute spaces where one can pull out the rosary beads.
One practice many young people doing a year of service find helpful…

February 8th, 2011

The answer to this question is a bit above my pay grade. As a Jesuit, I’m not in the loop of the diocesan priests’ world. They better know who is moving up the ladder of ecclesiastical offices. The priests who study in Rome seem to get to know one another and they would have a better sense of who from other countries has a chance of becoming Pope. If you really want the inside gossip on such matters, the respected blog “Whispers in the Loggia” is the site to click.
The Center for Research in the Apostolate in Washington provides some great info on the world wide church. In 2025, there will be some 606 million Catholics in Latin America; 228 million in Africa; 81 million in the USA (Malloy 2007, p. 168). So you can see the…

February 1st, 2011

The simple answer is that statues of saints remind us of the saint and their heroic efforts on behalf of the people of God and the spreading of the Gospel Good News so needed in every age. We gaze upon and ponder statues and pray to become like the great witnesses to God’s love and mercy and justice. We don’t worship the statue or the saint. We let our imagination be fired up by thoughts of who that saint was and what he or she did. We hope to grow to be like the saint in their dedication to God and God’s people.
I have coffee mug with an image of a young St. Ignatius on it and a famous quote of his. Every morning, the image and the quote remind me to strive to be a faithful and loving Jesuit as St. Ignatius wants us to be.
Graven images…

January 18th, 2011

Symbols matter and communicate. What we wear “says” something. One would not show up at a Philadelphia Eagles game in a NY Giants jersey and expect to go unnoticed. A man who takes off his wedding ring before going on a business trip to Las Vegas would be questioned closely by his wife.
Funerals are times of sober reflection, prayer and celebration of a deceased person’s life. If I am not going to wear black, I need to think about what my attire communicates. Does my choice of dress or suit say I care about the person and appreciate and understand the profundity of the occasion? Or do my jeans and tee shirt or tank top say, “This is no different than a quick trip to Target.” If I choose not to wear black, why do I choose…

January 11th, 2011

Born in Spain in 1580, Peter Claver, a bright student, entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and spent most of his life serving the slaves in Cartagena. From 1610 until his death he reached out to those captured by slave traders and brought to the new world. A third of the imprisoned Africans died in transit, the dreaded middle passage. Claver made his life’s mission outreach to these people caught up in the horrors of the slave trade. For over 40 years he brought small gifts (medicine, fruit, brandy, bread, etc.) to those held in cargo holds and shipside slave pens. He catechized and baptized over 300,000 slaves. When invited by the slave traders to lodge in better quarters, Claver chose to stay with the slaves.…

January 4th, 2011

St. Peter Canisius, a Dutchman known as the second apostle of Germany, was a 16th century Jesuit in the forefront of the effort to respond to the critiques of the Catholic church being made by protestant reformers in Germany, Switzerland and other parts of Europe. His pastoral strategies were built on the Jesuit idea of trying to see the good in the ideas and opinions of one’s interlocutor. He felt clarification of the church’s teaching was more helpful than decrying the ideas of the Lutherans and others. The three catechisms he published left a lasting imprint on the religious formation of many, many people of his times. He was one of the most respected and influential churchmen of his age, advising Emperors…

December 14th, 2010

St. Edmund Campion was born in 1540 and rose to great political, ecclesiastical and academic prominence in Elizabethan England. The Queen (the daughter of Henry VIII) and others recognized Campion’s talents and many spoke of him as a future Archbishop of Canterbury in the young Anglican church. To be a Roman Catholic in Elizabethan England was a crime punishable by death. In his early 30s, Campion chucked it all and went to Rome where he entered the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. At the age of 40, he returned to England to preach the faith. Soon imprisoned for his work, the Queen offered him honors and influential offices if he would renounce the Catholic faith of Rome. Campion refused. He suffered torture on the…

December 7th, 2010

“The mandatum is fundamentally an acknowledgment by Church authority that a Catholic professor of a theological discipline is a teacher within the full communion of the Catholic Church” (http://www.usccb.org/bishops/guidelines.shtml ). The mandatum is a relational reality between a Bishop and a Catholic person teaching Catholic theology within the diocese. A Catholic teaching Buddhism, or a non-Catholic teaching church history are not given mandatums. The Bishop is expected to give the mandatum to the theologian (“If all the conditions for granting the mandatum are fulfilled, the teacher has a right to receive it and ecclesiastical authority has an obligation in justice to grant it. (Cf. http://www.usccb.org/bishops/guidelines.shtml…

November 30th, 2010

Tell them the church is a hospital for sinners, not a showcase for saints. The transformation that begins at our Baptism is, for most of us, an affair of one step forward, three steps sideways, two steps back, and two steps forward. The human condition is characterized by original sin, the truth that things are not as they should be. The good news is that God comes to save us from the sinfulness of our lives and times.
Also, challenge those who will eschew the church because of the hypocrisy of some members. Sure there are some hypocrites, but what about the millions of Catholics of good character who authentically integrate the practice of the faith into their lives of love and service? Do other institutions (education,…

November 23rd, 2010

The answer is “No.” And many people wonder why. I have met many men who would gladly serve as deacons, but they cannot promise to remain unmarried if their wife should die. Most cogently say, “How could I deny my children a women who would love them as their mother did if she died? They would need a new Mom.”
It is little known, but a married deacon whose wife dies can petition Rome for permission to remarry. See Deacon Greg Kandra’s cogent comments on this issue.
On some different lines, a married protestant minister can now be ordained a deacon and then a priest. His wife and children attend his ordinations. There are dozens of such married priests serving in the Roman Catholic church in the USA today…

November 16th, 2010

Question: I have had to be away from my wife of ten years and our children for several weeks as I am taking a Christian course but my sexual urge is driving me “crazy” now. It’s almost all I think about and I am not happy about that.  I need to focus on other things but sex is almost all i think about! Would it be a sin against God if my wife and I were to masturbate with each other over the phone?

Our contemporary world presents us with possibilities and choices never thought of in previous times.
On one level, I wonder if you should strive more to control your sexual appetites and not allow your sexual urge to drive you “crazy.” Easy for me to say. And I’m the guy who cannot resist eating an extra Tastykake

November 4th, 2010

Mike Hayes, one of the editors at Bustedhalo® opined in response to this question, “I think kissing WITHOUT passion might be a sin.”
Mortal sin is “deadly sin,” sin that separates us from the community and God on a deep and real level. To persist in mortal sin, knowingly and will full intention of the will, cuts us off from the life of grace, the power of God to save us and bring us to eternal life.
It is difficult to argue that passionate kissing by itself could rise to the level of mortal sin. Now if you’re kissing another person’s spouse or your close relative, consequences may be more complicated.…

October 26th, 2010

The Church is very clear. Full, complete, genital sexual activity is reserved for those in the sacramental covenant of marriage.
Let me gently challenge the “where should the line be drawn” type questions. Love is not a reality that is measured and molded by rigid rules. The reality of love, God’s very self, is the transformation of human persons into beings who can live forever with God. That transformation begins when we are conceived and is marked by our Baptism. Any and everything we choose to do should be in tune with that transformation of our hearts and minds and souls.
The challenge for those who are not married is to find appropriate and just ways of expressing what their relationship means. The “100…

October 12th, 2010

The simple answer is “Yes.” The priest may just have forgotten to lead the community in the prayer or may have a good pastoral reason for omitting it (e.g., a baptism during Mass, time constraints, etc.)
Could I also gently challenge the questioner? Where do these “does it count” questions come from? What spirit elicits in us this need or desire to worry about what “counts”? For some, Mass devolves into doing the bare minimum: “Does Mass “count” if I’m there from offertory to communion?” And those who leave before the final blessing make me wonder why they come at all, although again, maybe someone has a real need to leave immediately after communion: e.g., a sick child or elderly parent who…

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