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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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July 9th, 2012

We don’t know for sure. The Gospel is silent about Joseph’s life prior to his betrothal to Mary. The tradition that he was an older man and a widower comes from apocryphal sources, namely the Protoevangelium of James, written around AD 150. This text is not considered to be divinely inspired and thus does not have the same weight as Sacred Scripture, though…

July 6th, 2012

Before even buying a book about the Bible, the first step is to buy a well-reputed study Bible. The Catholic Study Bible, the New Oxford Annotated Bible, or the Harper Study Bible are excellent Bibles for both prayer and study. The advantage these Bibles have is that they have well-documented footnotes and cross-references, introductory material before each…

July 6th, 2012

Thank you for your question, which shows great courage and faith and is already a step towards reconciliation. The Church is eager to welcome you and help you find healing and forgiveness. The best place to start is to talk to a trusted spiritual advisor. He or she will encourage you and support you as you work through the emotions surrounding your experience. When you are ready, one important step will be to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Preparing for that moment and moving forward with trust in God’s mercy afterwards will take time and you will need ongoing support.

July 3rd, 2012

For this answer, we look directly to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #279:
“The sacred vessels are purified by the priest, the deacon or an instituted acolyte after Communion or after Mass, insofar as possible at the credence table. The purification of the chalice is done with water alone or with wine and water, which is then drunk by whoever does the…

July 2nd, 2012

Mary didn’t know everything that would happen to Jesus. She was human, not divine, so she did not possess God’s knowledge. We know that she did know that Jesus was the Son of the Most High (remember that the angel told her that at the Annunciation), but she did not know the details of how his life would unfold. In the Gospels, when she encounters the unexpected,…

June 28th, 2012

Our feelings are always important things to take note of, and we can use them as a way to discern whether what we are doing is something that God would want us to do. In this case, feeling guilty might lead you to discern more deeply. Why are you watching the movie to begin with? Does focusing on sexually explicit scenes make you a more loving, faithful or hopeful person,…

June 27th, 2012

There’s certainly no hard and fast rule in any Church documents that doesn’t allow priests to carry guns. Just as there’s not one that says priests can’t carry a bow and arrow either. But prudential judgment is what is called for here.
The question to ask ourselves is, “Does a priest need a gun to protect himself where there is a lot of violence —…

June 25th, 2012

According to a survey by Forbes.com, an estimated 20 million pilgrims visit the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City every year. And though this is the most popular site, it certainly isn’t the only one. Watch this video and take a virtual tour to and through some other famous Catholic sites around the world.…

June 21st, 2012

Of course not! Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the U.S. Catholic Bishops recognize that sexual orientation is not a choice and is not sinful: “Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen. By itself, therefore, a homosexual orientation cannot be considered sinful, for morality presumes…

June 20th, 2012

Deciding how to respond to a panhandler is one of the challenging aspects of urban life. He could use your spare change to feed his family or to feed his addiction, and you have no way to know which. But should you give money to your niece on her birthday? Or to your coworker who’s retiring? You don’t really know what either of them is going to do with the…

June 19th, 2012

The Church is strongly in favor… of stem cell research. Indeed, it has funded and even led conferences in attempts to find medical solutions via stem cells. The Church has almost always supported science, and even the Galileo affair was really an argument about whether he had actually proven his claims about relationship of the earth and the sun scientifically.

June 14th, 2012

It’s actually a misconception that the Church advises against the use of fertility drugs. The Church teaches that union and procreation are the twin purposes of sexual intimacy, and that sexual relations are reserved to a man and woman united in the sacramental bond of marriage. In evaluating a drug or technology, the question to ask is whether it helps…

June 12th, 2012

The Church claims special authority to speak only about matters concerning faith and morals, but also asks Catholics (and all those of good will) to consider its arguments about other matters. Though it isn’t a question of faith or morals, the Church clearly and overwhelmingly sides with the scientists who argue that climate change is happening. Pope…

June 7th, 2012

Many couples experience the heartbreak and disappointment of being unable to conceive a child. While the Church encourages research that may help them to conceive, it also notes that some medical interventions available today are contrary to Catholic teaching. In the understanding of the Church, procreation and union are the twin purposes of sexual intimacy;…

May 29th, 2012

According to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (nos. 328-29), all vessels should be made of precious metal; or, in the case of the United States, a durable material such as an ebony or hard wood. The reason why glass is discouraged is because glass can break very easily, and the sacred vessel should not be so fragile. However, despite the fact that glass is…

May 28th, 2012

In the Gospel of Luke, when Mary arrives at the home of her cousin Elizabeth, Mary proclaims a hymn of praise to God (Luke 1:46-55). The first part of it focuses on the greatness of God and what he has done in Mary’s life, while the second part talks about how God brings down the rich and powerful and lifts up the humble and lowly. The hymn finishes with a reference…

May 22nd, 2012

“And with your spirit” is the new way of saying “And also with you.” For a good explanation of the difference see this article about the Top Five Liturgical Changes (hint: “And with your spirit” is 1!).…

May 21st, 2012

A few months back, the question of whether it’s okay to wear a rosary around one’s neck engendered a great discussion in the combox. In my article, I shared that I couldn’t find any formal prohibition against doing so, and readers contributed all sorts of fascinating insights about their personal feelings for or against this practice. (Commenters: thank…

May 15th, 2012

Each liturgical season has a special color assigned to it that determines what color the priest and deacon’s vestments are and also to determine how the church is decorated. Here is a basic list of the colors:
White: White is used for all the feast days and during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
Red: Red is used on Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Pentecost. It is…

May 14th, 2012

Question: Was Joseph a deadbeat dad? What happened to Joseph after Jesus’ birth?
Though the Gospels don’t say much about Joseph in general, there is clear Scriptural evidence that he was very present in Jesus’ young life. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Mary and Joseph taking the baby Jesus to the temple to be presented, in accordance with the law of…

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