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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
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).…

August 10th, 2012

Jesus lived in an agrarian society in which the majority of people would have had experiences living on farms or working with food crops and/or livestock. His audiences would have included shepherds, grape growers, wheat farmers, laborers in fruit orchards, and families raising livestock as just a few examples.
As the son of a carpenter in the Middle East 2,000…

August 9th, 2012

Sexual intimacy is meant to unite a married couple and help them express their love for one another; it is also meant to be life giving, open to the gift of a child and to a greater sharing of their love with the world. In Catholic understanding, masturbation cannot fulfill these twin purposes of sexual activity. Because it is a solitary activity, it is necessarily…

August 8th, 2012

“Ecumenical” refers to the work for unity among different denominations of Christians. The question you raise is an inter-religious one because it relates to members of other world religions rather than other members of other Christian… churches. The dialogue among Christians is not an interfaith or interreligious dialogue because, even though we

August 7th, 2012

First and foremost, we must have a little patience and understanding. Although having crying babies and noisy children at Mass is distracting, it is also important to welcome all to the Table of the Lord — no matter how quiet or noisy a person may be.
If this is a particular problem at your Church, you may investigate the Cry Room. For instance, if there is…

August 6th, 2012

The Church does not teach that Mary will have a second coming as Jesus does. Here it’s probably useful to distinguish between “second coming” and “apparition.” When we talk about the second coming of Jesus, we’re referencing the belief that Christ will come again at the end of time. As the Catechism states, “When he comes at the end of time to judge…

August 3rd, 2012

We celebrate the Feast of the Ascension forty days after Easter, and many people, like you, will be pondering just how it was – or if it was – that Jesus literally ascended bodily into heaven as described in Luke 24:50-52 and Acts 1:9-11. Did he jump really high? Did he sprout wings and fly? Did an invisible hand lift him gently upward? It’s a natural…

August 2nd, 2012

Catholic moral teaching on sexual intimacy is clear – it has twin purposes, union and procreation, and is meant to unite a man and woman in love and to allow them to be co-creators with God if they are blessed with the gift of a child. This means that sexual intercourse is reserved to married couples. But as anyone who has navigated the graced and confusing world…

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