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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
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
March 1st, 2013

The gospels don’t publish the specific menus offered at any of Jesus’ meals, except for giving multiple references to him eating bread, very commonly imbibing wine, and a couple of times eating fish. Many people think it is improbable that Jesus was a vegetarian given the fact that he was an observant Jew of his time. Jewish dietary laws (a.k.a. kosher food…

February 27th, 2013

Question: Why is Paul always in prison? Did people write letters responding to the ones he sent to them from prison?

The New Testament tells us that Paul spent some time in prison, although we can’t be certain of how many times Paul was imprisoned, where, or for how long each sentence lasted. According to The Acts of the Apostles, Paul remained under house arrest

February 25th, 2013

This is an age old question that stymies many people? What kind of God allows bad things to happen? And more importantly, like a child who gets burned after touching a stove, we apt to not want to be hurt a second time. Trust gets more difficult when we are hurting and evil has an opportunity to kick us when we are down and most vulnerable during these times.
St. Ignatius…

February 22nd, 2013

Question: In Mark 10:17-30, Jesus tells a man to give away all of his possessions in order to inherit eternal life. Do I need to give away all of my possessions if I want to spend eternity with Jesus?
Some read this passage (and it’s cross-references, Mt 19:16-22 and Lk 18:18-25) literally and have given over all they have to follow their call to discipleship.…

February 18th, 2013

Q. What do we know about Mary’s actual labor and delivery of Jesus?
A. When it comes to the actual technicalities of Mary’s delivery of Jesus, we really don’t have much information to go on. The Church teaches that she was a virgin before, during, and after the birth, but when it comes to the specifics of the physical birth itself, much is open to speculation.…

February 11th, 2013

Since the earliest days of the Church, people have used prayer beads or cords with knots in them to help them keep track of their prayers. (This practice is not limited to Catholicism, by the way; prayer beads are also found in religions such as Hinduism and Orthodox Christianity.) Christian monks used to pray the 150 psalms, and since lay people were not able to…

February 1st, 2013

It’s good to clarify that Mary herself does not perform miracles; all miracles are an act of God. That said, Catholics do believe that Mary will pray for us if we ask, and that God’s miracles can be related to her intercession. This belief has its roots in the Gospel story of the Wedding at Cana, when Mary sees the needs of the young couple and brings them before…

January 29th, 2013

Q: I’m heading on a mission trip with other students and my campus minister says we will only be allowed one shower for the week. Am I bound to obey?
A. It might be that you have no choice. If you and your classmates are all drawing from the same barrel of water for the week – as we did in some of my missionary communities in Mexico – then when the water is gone, the…

January 28th, 2013

It’s important to remember that Mary herself does not perform miracles; only God can do that. The Church does believe, however, that miracles can be related to the intercession and prayers of Mary on our behalf (see the story of the wedding at Cana in the Gospel of John), so over the years there have been many reported miracles connected with Marian shrines or…

January 25th, 2013

Q: Don’t animals have rights? Why doesn’t the church consider that animals have a soul? Shouldn’t we all be vegetarians? …
It depends what you mean by “rights.” If you mean a set of things that only a moral and self-aware creature can have, then non-moral and non-self-aware animals obviously do not have rights. But if by “rights”

January 23rd, 2013

Q: Why can’t I decide how I will die? Why doesn’t the church allow for physician-assisted suicide if the person doesn’t want to suffer?
One of the fundamental truths of Christianity is that our lives don’t belong to us. They belong to God and to the good of our most vulnerable neighbors. Just as our lives are not ours to do with as we wish,…

January 22nd, 2013

Q. As a Catholic am I bound to boycott companies like Walmart if they treat their employees badly?
A. In our modern world, everything we touch is part of a complex globalized supply chain linking producers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Too many links in this chain are forged with human rights abuses and environmental atrocities, all in the name…

January 21st, 2013

Catholic teaching states that Mary was conceived without original sin and that she also remained sinless her entire life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during…

January 18th, 2013

Q: I am a best man and I lost one of the rings. Am I required to replace the band and can I do it secretly or am I bound to confess?…
Presumably your buddy asked you to be his best man because he values your friendship and trusts you to play this special role at his wedding. So you’ve created an opportunity to prove yourself worthy of his trust. Yes, you are required to replace

January 17th, 2013

Q: What is the best way to decide what faith to be if you believe in different parts of all faiths?
A. Where do you find the most truth? I think that’s the question, because as you rightly observe, there is truth in all faiths. And we’re impelled by nature and bound by moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. Once we come to know it, we’re…

January 16th, 2013

What we call “science” today was first practiced at European universities founded by the Catholic Church. Almost no serious religion rejects science. However, history is littered with rejected scientific theories once assumed to be true, and because it is often difficult to tell whether scientific progress will produce good results, some…

January 15th, 2013

Fortunately for human beings, God is able to make God’s self known to people even without use of the Bible. We probably all know stories of people today who have religious experiences without prior knowledge of the Bible. You may think here of a young child raised in a secular family who relates a profound experience of transcendence, or of a self-proclaimed…

January 14th, 2013

Prevenient grace is a grace that comes without any effort or “earning” it on the part of humans. It reflects the fact that God takes the initiative to save us through Jesus Christ, and that we don’t earn God’s grace; we can only cooperate with it. To make a connection with Mary, the dogma of her Immaculate Conception (being conceived without original sin…

January 11th, 2013

Q: Why is the church so focused on banning contraception when over-crowding and over population is greatly dwindling the earth’s resources?

A: The Church is not trying to “ban contraception” — though given some of the recently media coverage I can understand why someone might think that it is.

January 11th, 2013

The Christian churches have what we call a “closed canon,” meaning that the books contained in the Old and New Testaments — all written by the turn of the first century C.E. — are definitively known as the sum of sacred scripture. So the answer is no; no further books will be added to the Bible.
The Second Vatican Council taught that God chose certain…

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