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).
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…

January 26th, 2010

The theologian Bernard Lonergan argues the innate operations of our being human, i.e., our experiencing, understanding, judging, deciding and loving, contain inherent transcendental precepts or norms.  We should be attentive, intelligent reasonable, responsible and loving in all we do and are.  To the degree that we are authentic, and live attentive, intelligent reasonable, responsible and loving lives, we progress and grow.  To the degree that we are unauthentic, and fail to meet the challenges of being attentive, intelligent reasonable, responsible and loving, we decline.  Our relationships with God, others and our deepest, truest self, falter and stall.  We are in danger of losing all we…

January 25th, 2010

From canonical scriptures, we simply do not know what happens to St. Joseph after Jesus is found in the Temple at the age of 12.  Traditions exist intimating that Mary was a widow at the time of the public ministry of Jesus.  More important than knowing exactly when Joseph died is reflecting on what we do know about Joseph.  He was a worker, (“tekton” in Greek) possibly a carpenter, but surely much more a blue collar worker than a trader for Goldman Sachs.  He was willing to go against the culturally accepted norms of his time and risk taking in Mary, knowing she was pregnant, and that the child was not his.  Thus he protected her from stoning, the penalty for women in her situation.  The first words in Matthew,…

January 19th, 2010

Angels in the Outfield (1951) was written by Jesuit Richard Grady (pen name “Richard Conlin”) and the 1994 remake with Danny Glover is one of the best baseball movies ever (along with Sandlot and Field of Dreams…).  Grady’s story telling was a great way to get “religious” realities in front of the minds and hearts of people, and from there one can accompany people as they come to appreciate and deepen the truths of faith.  His story has lasted and has had more impact than most theology being published in the 1950s.
Sports have become such a huge aspect of peoples’ culture and lives.  The challenge is to relate the realities of our faith to sports, while keeping both in their proper sphere, and keeping

January 12th, 2010

No! (LOL).  If I could explain it, it wouldn’t be what it is!  Seriously, “ontological change” is very meaningful in the context of St. Thomas Aquinas’ medieval theological synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology, a stunning intellectual achievement for both his time and, to some degree, ours.
But once we move out of the Thomistic formulation of questions and the meaning of words in his system, we can find it more than difficult to explain what he meant then, and what it means for us now.  Terms like “ontological change” and “Transubstantiation” need updating for the 21st century.  Jesuit Bernard Lonergan’s work is a great place to start with that task.  Yet, I fear…

January 5th, 2010

Funny you should ask.  I’ve been thinking of formally offering my services as a Chaplain to the Philly Police department now that I’m more settled in my new surroundings.  During the fifteen years I lived in Camden, NJ, I let police know they could ring the rectory door or phone anytime, especially after a stressful tour of duty.  There were a number of cops through the years who took me up on the offer.  Sometimes at 1:00 AM, there was no one else to talk with over a beer or a cup of coffee.  They knew it was better they come and chat with me before heading home.  They didn’t need professional counseling; just a sympathetic and listening ear to get them over a rough patch or sit with them while they shared about…

December 29th, 2009

Is it a sin to treat my dog like a child?  He’s a good dog and I pamper him a bit, but people seem to be thinking that he’s like a baby for me because I am a childless person.…
It is not a sin (i.e., sin is “humanity’s rejection of God and opposition to him” CCC#386) to treat your dog or any other pet as a child, but I would challenge those tempted to do so to reflect on the practice.  I always cringe a bit interiorly when I hear someone speaking to their dog or cat while referring to themselves as “Mommy” or “Daddy.”  It always sounds to me that such persons have a deep affective need in their lives which is not being fulfilled by human relationships.
Enjoy the gift of companionship and presence a dog

November 24th, 2009

Question: Should I avoid dating if I think I may want to be a priest?…
No.  Future priests have to develop as healthy, well-adjusted psycho-sexual persons in order to embrace the demands and discipline of celibacy (or marriage if the church ever calls married men to the priesthood–or for those in the newfound Anglican rite.).  Dating as a teen and young adult is a normal, loving way to know who one is and appreciate the wonders and beauty of male – female friendship.  Such experiences of good friendships with women serve as a foundation for adult relationships of all kinds.
For a whole host of reasons, most vocation directors would be wondering about the suitability for priesthood of a young man who declares

November 17th, 2009

Question:  What is wrong with watching pornography?  I’m not really hurting anybody, isn’t it better than having sex with someone else?…
The porn industry does hurt many people, specifically the men, women and children chewed up and spit out by an unscrupulous, to say the least, worldwide sex industry.  The multi-billion dollar porn industry hurts not only those enslaved and addicted by and to porn; it degrades all involved by diminishing what sex can and ought to be as a life giving gift of our loving creator God.  Instead of experiencing sexual relations as the person to person mutual giving human sexuality calls for, porn reduces sex to a selfish, self serving activity that objectifies the

November 10th, 2009

How can I prove to my atheist professor that God exists?…
Kill’em (Just Kidding!).  Short of your professor being convinced by the arguments of brilliant minds like St. Thomas Aquinas or Bernard Lonergan, S.J., there is little we can do.  (Personally I love the argument from contingent being [that which can not exist].  Such being must be kept in existence by a necessary being [that which cannot not exist]).  Still, there is really no sure way to logically or philosophically prove God exists.  All the arguments founder on the meaning of words, and the acceptance of certain presuppositions.  I think the question, “Why is there anything rather than nothing?” is a great question.  Some philosophers

November 3rd, 2009

Question:  If there is a God then why is there suffering in the world?


I often preach that there are only two things of which I am absolutely sure: one, God loves us and, two, humans suffer.  No one has ever disagreed with the second assertion.

This question of evil, known in theological circles as the theodicy question (impress your theology major friends throwing around that term over coffee), is the main question to give believers pause.

The first thing to recognize is that suffering is only a problem for those who believe in God.  If there is no God, there is no reason to think we should not suffer as we do.  It is only when we hope in a God of love and life, a good God who created all, that pain and death become contradictions.

October 20th, 2009

Is getting drunk a mortal sin?…

I stopped drinking Jan. 1, 1979.  My personal history in college and some family dynamics made me wonder about my drinking.  Quitting drinking is one of the healthiest and sanest things I’ve ever done.  So I know what it is to drink, and I know what it is to live without alcohol.

If you are asking the question, be concerned.  Most people do not drink to get drunk.  Most people do not often, or normally, get “wasted.”  Getting drunk once in a great while, or at some great fun occasion… most likely is not a deadly sin (But one drunk driving incident can kill you or someone else.  Think Ted Kennedy!).

Habitual drunkenness is not congruent with our commitment to be followers of

October 6th, 2009

What is the deal with the Vatican now saying that there is no Limbo? Isn’t this a change in doctrine?
The issue is more about the relationship of baptism and salvation, than it is about limbo.  The teaching on limbo didn’t change so much as the teaching on salvation without baptism changed.  At Vatican II the church shifted gears and taught: “Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his church, yet sincerely seek God, and moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience” (Lumen Gentium #16.  trans. Abbot).  The catechism realizes that “God has bound salvation to the…

September 22nd, 2009

Question:  I am a young man who recently came back to the Catholic church and I am happy to have found God back into my life.  The problem is that i am in a serious relationship for 7 years now, are we are getting married in 2010 and are having sex regularly.  Technically I’m in a state of mortal sin since I use condoms and I have sex before getting married. I do confess this in the sacrament of reconciliation but sometimes it don’t feel like I truly repent.  In some ways I don’t … I enjoy sex and its hard to say no to my girlfriend.   How can I continue to be faithful to god and his commandments while still be tempted by sexual activity?…

The way of fidelity is to resist temptations.  Married people

September 15th, 2009

Quetsion:  How can we be sure that heaven exists?  In the whole history of the world how come no one has ever crossed over or communicated from heaven? It seems that we were created from nothing, then it makes sense that we would go back to nothing. Thanks very much busted halo for answering.

How can we be sure anything… exists beyond our immediate, personal experience?  I’ve never been to China, but I am sure it exists.  I’ve never seen my DNA, but I know it’s there.  Consideration of epistemological methods (“How do we know?”) is one of the hallmarks of the Catholic intellectual tradition from St. Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Merton, Karl Rahner, S.J., and Bernard Lonergan, S.J., in the

September 8th, 2009

Question:  What is known about the use of Angel and Saints Oracle Cards? There appears to be “readers” who offer this as a spiritual guide. The cards suggest the use of saints like St. Francis, Mother Teresa and Padre Pio as spiritual guides. I doubt the Church would endorse such practices and a reader being paid to provide this service seems to mimic psychic or tarot card reading practices. Is a Catholic in “harms way” to seek or receive and be influenced by such card readings for oneself? Thank you!…

Many people think religion is about pleasing God or getting God to do something we want done.  Religion at its best is all about living in loving relationship with God.  The manipulative

September 1st, 2009

“For freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1).  God loves us and God’s grace frees us.  That’s the foundational truth of our faith.  All else is understood in relation to that overwhelming reality: God loves us.  We can trust God to forgive us and wipe out all our past transgressions, sins, and failures (cf. Mk 2:5; Lk 7:47; Lk 15:11-32; Col 1:14; Jas 5:15; 1 Jn 1:19).  Let go of the past and let God be God in your life.  The unknown author of the 14th century spiritual classic, The Cloud of Unknowing… said it best: “It is not what you are, nor what you have been, that God sees with his all merciful eyes, but what you desire to be” (chap 75).  Better than agonizing over past indiscretions, spouses might

August 25th, 2009

Consult professionals who deal with people who experience your condition.  It is only relatively recently in human history that we have discovered so much about our world (think of the advances in physics and biology these past 100 years) and ourselves (sexuality wasn’t even spoken about in very recent eras).  The reality of transgender people may be as old as humanity but the ability to do something to transform a person’s gender on both the physical and psychological levels is only a few decades old.  One who feels trapped in the “wrong” body should consult widely.  Most importantly, take your feelings to God in prayer and listen long and lovingly to what God desires of you in this life.
The Church’s…

August 18th, 2009

No.  Chastity calls us to undertake the often difficult task of integrating sexuality into our relationships with others and with God (CCC #2337).  At the end of one’s life God is going to ask us how much we loved one another.  The teachings of the church guide us, but at the end of the day, we will have to look God in the eye and say, “This is what I did with the time you gave me on earth.”  Always err on the side of love.
But remember, love is not simply whatever “I” want.  Stephen L. Carter, a Yale Law school professor and novelist, wrote: “Love is an activity, not a feeling – didn’t one of the great theologians say that?  …  True love is not the hapless desire to possess the cherished object of one’s…

August 11th, 2009

Mortal sin means “deadly” sin, the choice to so reject God’s love that the life of grace “dies” in a person.  The meanings of masturbation range over a variety of acts and life situations.  An overly “act” centered approach to sexual morality, in my humble opinion, fails to take into account the multiplicity of meanings and complexities of the human condition.  Masturbation by a 13 year old boy is radically different from masturbation by a person who is refusing to have sexual relations with a spouse because of unresolved anger and conflicts.  Overall, it is difficult to imagine someone using masturbation alone in such a manner that God is definitively rejected, with full consent of the will…

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