Busted Halo
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Richard G. Malloy, SJ :
94 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).
June 22nd, 2010
Seeking the sacred in soccer

For me, the World Cup intimates something of what God is and can be for us. The principle guiding our getting together and enjoying life. The meaning of our days. The joy of our victories and our consoler in defeat. If, as St. Ignatius taught, we should seek God in all things and God wants to be with the people of earth, then He has to be at the World Cup in South Africa this summer. Look for Him there.
It was 1982. I was teaching an English class of fifty primeros (high school freshmen) at Colegio San Mateo, the Jesuit school in Osorno, Chile, deep in the South of that beautiful country. Class was rolling along. The Chilean kids were always respectful and well behaved. Suddenly, they all just started standing up and walking…

June 8th, 2010

That priests are somehow “different.” I’ve often been told, “I can’t believe you’re a priest.” I don’t know if that says something about me, or the priests they have met. One of the nicest compliments I ever received was when I was told, “You’re cool. You’re not what I expected a priest to be like. You don’t walk around like you have a stick up your behnd.”
In my experience, so many people really don’t know priests. Especially young people, college age, don’t know any priests under seventy years of age, so when they meet someone like me who is a fanatical fisherman, a faithful Phillies fan, plays the guitar, knows the movies they’ve seen, and can just hang out with them, they are surprised.…

June 1st, 2010

Mortal sin is deadly sin, those freely chosen acts and dispositions that make the reality of God’s grace (i.e., his love and power) dry up in us. God can no longer relate to us because our sins have pushed God out of our lives. Pride, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Greed, Envy, Sloth, freely chosen and acted on, can ruin our lives. Take gluttony. A 1200 lb. person is not able to live happily, the way God desires us to live. Or the destruction and greed that Bernie Madoff caused. Social sin, like war or corporate malfeasance, can also be mortal, i.e., deadly.
Mortal sin is not easy to commit. The sinner must know and realize the act is grave matter, have full knowledge he or she is committing such sin, and give full consent of the will…

May 25th, 2010

The word God speaks to us is our life. Sit quietly and ask yourself the following question:
What really fills me with joy and passion?
God is speaking there. We can think about this in a number of ways. Who do you really love and who loves you? God is in those relationships, communicating who and what you and the persons with whom you are in relation are becoming for all eternity. What injustice or evil makes your blood boil and calls for your action(s) to set things right? God is very likely in that experience. How do you prepare for Mass? Too often we walk into the work of the liturgy with less preparation than we make for seeing a Friday night movie. Read the readings all week before Sunday Mass and see how God’s communication…

May 20th, 2010

The quick answer is that bread and wine during the Eucharist are not transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus of Nazareth, but the glorified reality of the risen Christ. The sacramental signs of bread and wine are substantially (trans-substantiation), by the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit, become Christ present to us and in us. As Catholics, we receive the Eucharist (we don’t “take” the Eucharist). The sacrament achieves by signifying. A too literal reading of the words means one misses the deeper realities communicated by metaphor and meaning.
The deeper answer needs more awareness of what a sacrament is and how a sacrament achieves the mediation of God’s grace. The question presupposes…

May 18th, 2010

Ghosts are figments of novelists’ and Hollywood movie makers’ imaginations. Ghosts are the souls or spirits of the dead that somehow manifest themselves to the living. Despite popular stories (Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, etc.), no one has ever proven the existence of Ghosts. For decades, James Randi has offered a prize of $1,000,000 dollars to anyone who can prove the paranormal. He hasn’t had to pay anyone yet.
As those who follow Jesus “We believe… in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” The transformation in Christ that begins at baptism reaches culmination when we die. Death is when our souls separate from our mortal bodies and our mortal bodies decay. We hope and trust our souls…

May 11th, 2010

Contact the proper authorities. Any parish, diocesan office or local police station can hear your suspicions, help you evaluate the evidence you do have, and take appropriate action. If the priest has several other allegations against him, even if you do not have proof, another person voicing suspicions will call attention to the matter. Still, make real sure of your suspicions. Has the victim told you he or she has been abused? A false allegation can destroy people’s lives, both the life of the supposed perpetrator, in this case the priest, and also the suspected victim. No one, especially a child or adolescent, wants to be embroiled in the fantasy of someone’s overactive imagination, and have everyone…

May 6th, 2010

The first thing I wonder on reading your question is why you feel the need to make such a distinction? Jesus commands, “Stop Judging that you may not be judged” (Mt 7:1). St. Ignatius counsels that the first question one should ask if one feels the need to correct another is if one is, in truth and love, the one to make the correction. Maybe the correction will be better received and appropriated if the appropriate person suggests the correction.
On another level, the answer to your question is rather obvious: ask the person. Only a person in the sanctity of their own conscience can decide if he or she is rejecting the Catholic faith. Only the person can tell you if they are rejecting the faith. And, even if they do so…

April 20th, 2010

Well, you can.  The question is should you?  More importantly, what is God asking of you in this situation?  Mostly consider refraining from sex until after the wedding.  Even if you are now in a “committed relationship” you are still immersed in a culture whose first commandment is, “If it feels good, do it.”  Maybe the idea of “Wait! It will feel and be even better!” is worth considering.

There is so much wrong with the hook-up culture in which so many young people try and form their minds and hearts and prepare for marriage.  But the worst thing about hook-ups (solely physical sex without any expectation of any further connection, let alone relationship) is that such encounters make sex so much…

April 15th, 2010

If I know some of the products I buy (like Nike sneakers for example) were made in sweatshops, am I morally bound by the church not to purchase them?

Are you morally bound by the church or your conscience?  The church teaches you must follow your rightly formed conscience.  Check out this video of Jim Keady who gave up a job as a soccer coach at St. John’s University rather than wear Nike apparel.

Jim now spends his life trying to educate us on the issues you raise.  Visit his website  http://educatingforjustice.org/

Walter LaFeber’s Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism… (Norton 2002) revealed that Nike paid Jordan more per year to be Nike’s “face” than they paid all the women combined who labored

April 13th, 2010

Sure you can.  The question is should you?  More importantly, what is God asking of you in this situation?  A helpful book for you would be Dean Brackley’s The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times.


More intriguing is the fact you are asking the question.  Obviously, you are aware that as Catholics, we find pornography abusive and troubling on many levels.  Pornography “does grave injury to the dignity of the participants… since one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others” (CCC #2354).  The Catechism goes on to speak of porn’s more subtle and  insidious damage.  Porn immerses one in “a fantasy world.”  Such fantasy can make it very difficult to live with reality. 

April 7th, 2010

Question:  I am a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution which is the right to keep and bear arms.  I currently carry a small revolver almost everywhere i go.  I pray to God everyday that I never have to use it.  I am also very seriously discerning a call to the priesthood.  My question is are there any rules about priests being armed is it allowed at all?  if it is allowed must it be concealed?  etc.  Thank You very much and I hope you can clarify this for me. I have also read many scripture verses that would seem to support the idea of good upstanding Christians being armed for the safety of themselves and others.  If I am misinterpreting these passages I defer to Holy Mother Church.  In Christ,…

April 6th, 2010

We live in incredibly complex times.  So often the corporations that provide us with products and services are so large and so interconnected, we can hardly extract ourselves from connections to them.  Years ago, I was in a Jesuit community that decided to boycott Nestle because of that corporation’s practices in marketing infant formula in the third world.  I was amazed when I saw the two page list of food and other companies from which we could not buy products in order to boycott Nestle.

If you can find a health care plan that in no way, shape or form has anything to do with abortion or hospital services that provide abortions, or doctors who graduated from medical schools that taught how to perform abortions,…

March 30th, 2010

If I have a gay brother am I bound to not attend his “commitment” ceremony if I am Catholic?…

You are bound to do what is loving and just.  You are required to follow your rightly formed conscience.  Most importantly, “Ama Deus et fac quod vis” (Love God and do what you will).  St. Augustine, Bernard Lonergan and Matthew Fox all say that.  If you’ve got those three on the same side, it must be Catholic!

It was only in 1972 that the American Psychological Association decided that homosexual persons were no longer to be considered mentally ill.  Society has changed a great deal in understanding of and attitudes toward homosexual persons in recent decades.  The church teaches that homosexuals

March 23rd, 2010

We’re “against” it (LOL).  Seriously, we are called to be stewards of creation.  The church, like all sane and sensible institutions, knows the shift in global weather patterns are deeply dangerous and threaten humanity.

We’re slugging through the snowiest winter in Philadelphia history (I’m writing this on yet a fourth school snow day in 2010.  In almost 20 years of college teaching I’ve only had five snow days, but four of them have been in the past month!).  The wild swings in Philly winters show me that “global weirding” is happening.

The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is measurable.  There were 260 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere before the industrial revolution. …

March 16th, 2010

Question:  What’s the Catholic teaching on plastic surgery?  If I want to get a tummy tuck or a breast enhancement am I committing a sin?

Sin is the rejection of God who is love.  God gives you, well, your, body and soul!  Do you accept yourself as you are?  Is getting this or that plastic surgery rejecting God’s gift of your body, or does the surgery serve and achieve a truly therapeutic function?  There is a major difference between having breast reconstruction surgery after a radical mastectomy and getting a “nose job” as a high school graduation present so that you look “cuter.”  The real horror that plastic surgery has done to Burt Reynolds, Joan Rivers, and Kenny Rogers (and did to…

March 9th, 2010

Question: At work, I lie often. As long as I am taking care of my family and community, does God really care?…
As Dumbledore told Harry Potter, “It is our choices that show what we truly
are, much more than our talents and abilities” (Rowling, Chamber of
Secrets, p. 333).
To strive to tell the truth means one cannot be bought.  Choosing to
lie, consistently and often, makes us untruthful, unreliable,
untrustworthy persons.  Maybe we’re not as bad as Bernie Madoff, but
somewhere along the line he started shading the truth and eventually
thousands lost millions.  Lying gets easier and easier to justify.
Soon, we no longer know what we’ve said, or who we are.  We lose
ourselves in

March 2nd, 2010

Some definitions to start:
“The Vatican” is the 108 acre plot of land in Rome, West of the Tiber River.
“The Papacy” is the office traced back to St. Peter who traditionally is considered to have been buried at “The Vatican,” so could we say he was the first Pope to “live” there?
The Lateran Treaty of 1929 created Vatican City as a political city state. Constantine gave Pope Militades the land in 313 AD. In 326, the Constantinian Basilica was built on what is thought by many to be the tomb of St. Peter. Pope Symmachus (498-514 A.D.) constructed a palace on Vatican land. Popes have lived at the Vatican since the return from Avignon in 1377.
Ask why the area is…

February 23rd, 2010

Any Introduction to Sociology Textbook would have the numbers on world
religions, and www.adherents.com provides wonderful info on world
religions.  Their 2005 snapshot shows that 33% of the worlds
inhabitants, some 2.2 billion people, consider themselves Christian
(some 1.2 billion of those Christians are Catholic).  About 21% are
follower of Islam (1.5 billion).  Hindus make up 14%.  The really new
category this past century are the growing numbers who consider
themselves “non-religious,” some 16% of the planet.
For Catholics in the USA, the numbers are challenging.  ”The Catholic
Church has lost more adherents than any other group: about one-third of
respondents…

February 9th, 2010

Yes.  But keep in mind what the Bishops of the United States have said
about the participation of Catholics in political processes and measure
what a particular priest says against the collective wisdom of the
bishops.  Here’s a bit of what I offered in Nov. 2008 on my blog
(www.jesuitjottings.blogspot.com):
It is a mistake to think that the Catholic Church tells people how to
vote.  Catholic Bishops tell people they need to form their consciences
and vote accordingly.  The Bishops’ provocative and prophetic statement
“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” (found on the Bishops’
website ( http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/ ) clearly articulates…

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