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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
September 12th, 2012

The internet has created a new minefield for marriages and relationships. People who would never think of visiting an adult shop or ordering pay-per-view suddenly find these temptations only a click away in the comfort of their own homes, and thus the consumption of pornography has skyrocketed. Many spouses and partners experience pornography use as infidelity,…

September 11th, 2012

Before I answer this question directly, it should be noted that forgiveness does not give assent to the horrible actions committed by another. Forgiveness allows us to heal from harms done to us by moving forward and not allowing this pain to continue to control our lives.

September 10th, 2012

First, let’s look at the broader context of the Mary/Joseph relationship. Church tradition maintains that Mary was a virgin at the time of the conception of Jesus, and that she remained a virgin her entire life, never having sex with Joseph. This belief is reflected in numerous early Church writings and can be found in the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James,…

September 7th, 2012

What’s the Apocrypha and why is it part of some Bibles and not others?…
The Apocrypha is the set of 15 books generally placed between the Old and New Testaments that is included in Catholic but not Protestant bibles. The set includes the books of Tobit, Judith, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and portions or additions

September 5th, 2012

From a legal standpoint, your husband can express his desire to be cremated in a will or cremation directive. As his next of kin, you will then have the task of honoring his wishes. Thus, regardless of what your daughter thinks, you can go ahead with plans to have your husband cremated. The moral issue here is different. Upon your husband’s death, your daughter…

September 3rd, 2012

Though it’s an intriguing idea, the Scriptures don’t give any evidence to support the theory that the shepherds later became disciples. Remember that about thirty years passed between their encounter with the infant Jesus and the beginning of his ministry, so it’s unlikely that the shepherds would be around for both events.
There’s also the issue…

August 31st, 2012

What translation of the Bible should I be reading? There are a lot to choose from — which one is the best?

If you want to sit down specifically to pray and meditate on scripture, I recommend you use whatever translation you have on hand that is familiar, comforting, and appealing to you. If you love…

August 29th, 2012

Jesus appears often in the Qur’an (in a total of 93 verses scattered throughout 15 suras or chapters), but with significant differences. The Qur’an refers to him as the “messiah,” but the word has a different theological import than in Christian thought. In Muslim understanding, Jesus was not more than a creature, a human being. He is not divine. He…

August 28th, 2012

Stand in front of a mirror and ask yourself: Can I look myself in the eye, knowing that I made it to graduation not because of what I learned but because I cheated? Does my diploma represent my real achievement, since I paid a bribe to complete a class?
That was hard to do, wasn’t it?
Both you and your teacher made poor choices, but two wrongs do not make a right (or,…

August 27th, 2012

No. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of two disciples who encounter the risen Jesus on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. We know the name of one of the disciples (Cleopas), while the other is unnamed. There’s no reason to believe that it was Mary, though, who would be unlikely to be making such a journey in the first place and who would surely have been identified…

August 24th, 2012

Can you give me a brief description of how marriage prep works in the following situations where a Catholic is marrying a non-Christian? For example,

a)  Catholic marrying a Jew
b)  Catholic marrying a Muslim
c)  Catholic marrying a Buddhist

What rituals can be performed for the wedding that encompasses both faiths but still be valid in the eyes of the …

August 23rd, 2012

Question: I caught two students drinking in a dry dorm. I decided not to report them for a first offense and I confiscated their beer. Am I now free to drink it myself? I am over 21.
If you’re the resident assistant in the dorm, then doubtless you know the policies on violations and what the consequences are. Maybe you’re allowed to use your discretion when it’s…

August 22nd, 2012

The Church of our day refuses to claim that someone is in Hell — even if their last act was to kill themselves. Yes, it is always intrinsically evil to aim at the death of an innocent person, and this includes one’s self. But especially in this context, “intrinsically” does not mean “very.” Determining the level of guilt in another person (aside…

August 21st, 2012

There is not a specific place where a manger scene should be placed. The only guideline is that the Manger Scene should not be placed directly in front of the altar (off to either side of the Altar would be fine). However, if the Church is exceptionally small and the manger can only fit in front of the altar, an exception can be made.…

August 20th, 2012

Did Mary tell the apostles anything in the upper room?
Luke, the author of Acts of the Apostles, doesn’t mention any conversations between Mary and the apostles as they wait in the upper room. He specifically mentions her presence in 1:14, but aside from that, we don’t know anything about what they may have discussed as they waited.
It seems likely that Mary…

August 17th, 2012

This is where a good study Bible or biblical commentary comes in handy. In the last century biblical scholars have been trying to parse out historical facts from the extensive literature included in the Bible. They have been studying the literary genres to give them more clues about what sections or books were never intended to be read as scientific data, for…

August 16th, 2012

While celebrating birthdays can boost staff morale and provide a bit of a break for everyone, it can also easily get out of hand. Even in the best work environments, office politics quickly get mixed in. How much do we spend? Do we spend more on the boss? Who has to organize? Who organizes for the organizer? Talk to your supervisor or the human resources manager about…

August 15th, 2012

What do other Christians believe about Mary (Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc.)?

Christians believe that Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Christ. In general, however, Mary plays a much less significant role in Protestant faiths than in Catholicism. In post-Reformation Europe, Protestants viewed Catholic devotion to Mary as excessive…

August 14th, 2012

While the Deacon has the responsibility in the Mass to do some proclamations, (for instance, he says, “Let us give each other of sign of that peace,” or “The Mass is ended…”) the proclamation “Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith” is in the Eucharistic Prayer. The priest should be the only voice heard throughout the Eucharistic prayer.…

August 13th, 2012

Mary’s words are recorded in four passages in the Bible. Three of the four passages are from the Gospel of Luke: the Annunciation, when she speaks with the angel (Luke 1:34 and 38); her visit to Elizabeth, when Mary sings the psalm of praise known as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55); and the time that Jesus is lost in the Temple and Mary admonishes him (Luke 2:48).…

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