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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
April 5th, 2012

Question: If I’m poor, can I drive to work with an expired registration and risk not getting caught? Or am I morally bound to renew it as a Catholic?
Being poor does not give you an excuse to break the law – imagine what would happen if everyone decided to stop complying with regulations that seem unaffordable. Revenue derived from them is public money, to be…

April 3rd, 2012

College Students (and really, anyone) should attend a worshipping community where they can feel welcomed, inspired and challenged. The proximity of this community does not matter (that is, unless it is 100 or more miles away!). So the simple answer to your question is no, you do not have to stay at your local parish when you go off to college, but you can stay at…

April 2nd, 2012

The title of Mary as Queen has been a tradition of the Church since at least the fourth century. (Note that Mary is referred to as queen not just of heaven, but also of peace, of the angels, of all Christians, among many other things.) It’s important to understand that the title of Queen is not meant to indicate power over others, but rather to underscore Mary’s…

March 30th, 2012

You are in very good company indeed in asking this question for the ages. For thousands of years humans have struggled with the question of why bad things happen to good people or why God seems to put humans to the test. If I had the answer to this question, I would surpass even Job in wisdom, for at the end of the book of Job even he admits that God’s wisdom is a mystery…

March 29th, 2012

No matter what your profession, you can’t leave your moral obligations at the door when you report for work. You have to strive to do what is right, whether no one ever sees you or whether you’re dogged by cameras 24/7. And anyone in the public eye has an extra responsibility to avoid causing another person to stumble (that’s the literal meaning of the word…

March 28th, 2012

An ecumenical council is when the entire Church, through the bishops, gathers together to address one or more issues vital to the life of the universal Church at a given period of time. The first seven councils of the Church are generally accepted and called the “Ecumenical Councils.” The First Seven Ecumenical Councils, as commonly understood, are:

March 23rd, 2012

With all the talk in Catholic circles these days about the move toward a “direct equivalence” translation of the mass parts, some may not realize that the translation of scripture (the “spoken word”) we hear at mass has not changed. Yes, some of the priest’s words and the congregation’s responses have changed to more directly reflect the words…

March 22nd, 2012

The image of marriage in popular culture, as presented on “The Bachelorette,” is a serious distortion of the real meaning of marriage, as understood in the Catholic tradition. Both involve two people expressing love for one another and making some kind of promise. But the scripted, syrupy progression of love on reality TV — heavy on romance…

March 21st, 2012

There are two Catholic organizations in the United States which work very closely with each other to further the ecumenical mandate of Christ as expressed in John 17:21ff and embraced by the Second Vatican Council in its document, Unitatis Redintegratio, or the Decree on Ecumenism and later in the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism…

March 20th, 2012

Holy Water is found at every Church entrance-no matter where in the world you may be! It is holy because it has been blessed by a priest. We, as Catholics use it to bless ourselves by dipping our fingers in it and making the sign of the cross as we enter into the Church. This action is a reminder of when we were blessed with the Holy Water at our Baptism. We also use Holy…

March 19th, 2012

Though they are a prominent part of Nativity sets and Christmas pageants, the magi only make one appearance in the Gospels, in Matthew 2: 1-12. (Though we commonly call them “kings,” the term magi originally referred to members of the Persian priestly caste and later became used for those possessing great knowledge and wisdom. Matthew presents them as…

March 16th, 2012

Although some words to the mass have changed, the stance of scripture scholars to translating the Bible hasn’t. Any serious scholars and translators of the Bible have to make choices in translation. They must either render words or phrases more word-for-word, focusing on literal fidelity sometimes at the expense of the comprehension in English (direct…

March 15th, 2012

Did your future brother-in-law do something silly and harmless, or was it inappropriate enough that you have concerns for your sister’s well-being? If his behavior reveals a pattern of disrespect for himself, for your sister, and for the marriage vows he is about to take, there is more at play than one evening’s indiscretion.
A good approach might be to…

March 14th, 2012

Question: It seems like Catholics and many mainline Protestant denominations are getting farther and farther apart on moral issues like abortion, the definition of marriage, and the ordination of active homosexual clergy. How does this affect ecumenical dialogue?
It is true that just about every mainline Protestant denomination is struggling internally…

March 13th, 2012

The amice is a piece of rectangular cloth with two thin-longer strands on either side (to be honest- it kind of looks like an apron!). The amice used to be a mandatory liturgical vestment before the Second Vatican Council. Priests would put the amice on over their shoulders. The alb would then go over the amice. Now, the use of the amice is only required if the alb…

March 12th, 2012

There’s not a lot of information about this in Scripture. We have the story in Mark 3: 21 where Jesus’ relatives come to seize him, saying, “He is out of his mind,” but it’s not entirely clear from the context of the story what it is that they are concerned about (we also have no idea whether or not Mary was one of these unnamed relatives). Mary is specifically…

March 9th, 2012

Your question presupposes the literal historicity of the story of Noah’s ark found in Genesis 6-8. Although the story was assumed to be literal for hundreds of years, since about the 19th century mainline scripture scholars have rejected a literal interpretation of this story. (In fact, hundreds of ancient cultures recorded stories of a great flood, and…

March 8th, 2012

The Masons are a worldwide fraternal organization which originated in 18th century Europe. Membership includes ritual practice, charitable activity and adherence to a moral code; members seek to develop a broader sense of the self in relation to the divine. Masons must declare belief in a supreme being, but more specific views are not required. Hence Masons…

March 7th, 2012

Question: If Jesus prayed that we should all “be one” then ecumenism must be possible, right? Otherwise wouldn’t Jesus be praying an impossible prayer?
You are right. Ecumenism is possible precisely because Jesus prayed for it. In John 17:21ff Jesus prayed,
“I pray not only for these, but for those who will believe because of them…that…

March 6th, 2012

A purificator is a small square piece of cloth, with a cross in the center, that is used during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Specifically, Eucharistic Ministers who distribute the Blood of Christ use the purificator to wipe the chalice clean between each use. Purificators are also used at the end of Communion to purify or clean the sacred vessels.…

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