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The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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February 11th, 2016
You’re out with your friends on a Friday night and suddenly you notice that one of them has switched from his favorite microbrew to… lemonade? Is it time for Lent already? Giving up something for Lent sometimes evokes head-scratching in non-Catholics, but what might seem like just another Catholic eccentricity can actually be a practice with deep spiritual…
February 5th, 2016
(Catholic News Service photo/Rebecca E. Drobis)Jesus told his disciples to go out and spread the word of God. We are all disciples of God, and as such, we should be spreading the word of God as well. How would you suggest a normal, everyday person go about sharing our faith with others? Pope Paul VI and the United States Catholic Bishops addressed this very question…
January 29th, 2016
Midnight Orthodox Christmas at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Tbilisi, Georgia. (CNS photo/David Mdzinarishvili, Reuters)Yes, all of the Eastern Catholic Rites are in communion with Rome, and together with the Latin Rite, they make up the Catholic Church. That’s why they’re called Eastern Catholic Rites. Members of the Latin Rite Roman…
January 27th, 2016
No. Television and Internet broadcasts of Mass are useful for the sick or those unable to get to Mass because of some other infirmity. If you were to miss Mass because you are purposely choosing to attend another event (say, a baseball game) that is a violation of the commandment to honor the Sabbath. As the Catechism notes: You cannot pray at home as at church, where…
January 22nd, 2016
Question: What does God mean, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you?” This comes from the opening lines of the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament. This verse (Jeremiah 1:5) and the ones that follow are a call to leadership for the under-confident Jeremiah. Essentially, God is saying that he has given…
January 20th, 2016
Dinah was the sole girl among Jacob’s troop of 13 children. She is often overshadowed by her 12 brothers, including the most famous one, Joseph. Her mother was Leah, one of Jacob’s wives. The book of Genesis is the only book that mentions her, and we know little of her story. The primary references to her come in Genesis 34. The incident recorded there…
January 15th, 2016
Question: Where in the Bible does it say one must go to confession? I believe it was made up at some time so the “church” could know what its parishioners were doing. I pray daily to God and ask forgiveness of sins personally. They are forgiven. Why would I want to tell them to someone else? Priests are no “closer” to God than I am. What say…
January 12th, 2016
Question: In Matthew 19:19, Jesus speaks of honoring thy father and mother. Could you elaborate on what that entails? In what light would Jesus see children/adults who are subject to child abuse? Answer: In this particular passage Jesus is quoting from the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20). Since the family is the basic unit of human community, the relationship…
January 8th, 2016
Let’s start with what “spirituality” essentially is. Spirituality is a growing intimacy with God experienced through the people, events, places, and things in each day’s living. And how will that happen? Through what you see, hear, taste, touch, smell. We are embodied spirits, and the doorways to our hearts and minds are our senses.…
December 23rd, 2015
The Gospel of Matthew explains that Joseph did not know in advance that Mary was destined to be the mother of the Savior. In Matthew 1:18-25, we read about how Joseph and Mary were betrothed, and Joseph discovered that she was pregnant, a discovery which would surely have been a rather rude shock. (The Jewish marriage ceremony had two parts: betrothal, which was…
December 22nd, 2015
CNS/Bridgeman Art LibraryAn exact date was attempted to be calculated for the Nativity of the Lord but it was deemed impossible (there was/is not enough information available to determine this). So originally, March 25, the first day of spring, was discussed as an appropriate day to celebrate the birth of Christ to coincide with the re-birth of the spring!…
December 18th, 2015
Of course they are! Catholics are free to sing "Jingle Bells" or "Frosty the Snowman" or any of the many songs that reflect the Christmas season. Perhaps there are song parodies that might be objectionable material in general, but most of the tried and true carols that we know well can be sung by Catholics.
December 11th, 2015
Secret Santa gift exchanges can bring out the best of collegiality and the worst of office politics. Some people love any excuse for gift-giving; others can’t stand the thought of unwrapping one more tchotchke for their cubicles. While office gift exchanges can contribute to employee morale and build company culture, there are also plenty of legitimate…
December 9th, 2015
(CNS photo/Lisa Johnston)Absolutely. Anglican and Lutheran traditions have been celebrating Advent for centuries. Other Christian traditions have picked it up over the years, but the practice varies from congregation to congregation, depending on their polity and liturgical traditions.…
December 4th, 2015
Question: Where is the house of the Virgin Mary? Can I visit it? Yes, you certainly can visit the House of the Virgin Mary! It is located in Turkey in the hills that dot the landscape between Seljuk and Ephesus. Scripture tells us that Jesus entrusted his mother Mary into the care of his disciple John (and, likewise, John was entrusted into her maternal care). Tradition…
November 20th, 2015
(CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) Who gave Jesus his halo — how did he have it in the first place? Do we just presume God? The halo is an artist’s rendering of holiness and nothing more. Halos often symbolize “sainthood” in Catholic circles, but in Ancient Greece they were drawn behind heroes as having more than natural light around them.…
November 17th, 2015
Question: How does the person doing the reading know to say “letter from Paul” when in the prayer book it just says Corinthians, etc.? I’d like to do the readings, but I don’t know these details. Sister Clara Zhang Jin Ping serves as a lector during Mass. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)Answer: Lectors who are doing the readings from the Bible…
November 13th, 2015
The Bible, like any written document, betrays the cultural context of the authors. In the case of the Bible, we are dealing with not one book, but with many books and thus many authors, all of whom wrote about 1,900 to 3,000 years ago. These authors were members of patriarchal cultures that had different views about gender roles, rights, and responsibilities…
November 10th, 2015
Question: What aspects of the seven sacraments are in the Bible? Are there any that are not? Newly married couples kneel as Pope Francis celebrates the marriage rite for 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Answer: The seven sacraments celebrated by Catholics all have their roots in scripture, although some are featured more…
November 6th, 2015
This question was submitted to Busted Halo’s Summer School Contest. What is the best way for a young adult to get involved in ministry without becoming one of the “little old church ladies”? I work for the Church and find that I still have trouble! My first thought is to simply be yourself. You need not become anyone other than who you are. So if you’re…
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