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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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February 10th, 2012

The Pharisees were lay leaders, a sect of Judaism that held great influence among Jewish people of Jesus’ day. They were characterized by observance of both the written laws (the Torah or Old Testament teachings) as well as oral tradition. In contrast to the Sadducees, the Pharisees also believed in the resurrection of the dead, angels, and demons. In general,…

February 9th, 2012

The Catholic Church’s teaching on all aspects of human sexuality is derived from our belief that God created human beings, male and female, out of love, and gave us a special vocation to love and to communion. As summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s…

February 7th, 2012

The word liturgy has developed over many years. In classical greek, leitourgia is a work done on behalf of the people. In ancient times, any work that was done by someone for the good of the community could be considered a leitourgia. In the early church, liturgy referred to both the people involved in ministry (church officials) and the actual act of worship (see…

February 6th, 2012

There’s zero obligation for Catholics to go to Marian shrines. The decision to visit them is totally voluntary. Many shrines do attract large numbers of pilgrims; the Marian apparition site at Lourdes, France, for example, attracts about five million pilgrims a year. Some come in hope for healing (the spring at Lourdes has been associated with miraculous…

January 20th, 2012

Mary is the English translation of the Hebrew name Miriam. There are different opinions on what it means; some sources say that it means “bitter,” or “beautiful one,” while others say that it derives from the Egyptian word that means “beloved.” It was a common female name at the time of Jesus, as is evident from all the different Marys who show up in…

January 10th, 2012

The best way to become a lector is to either talk to your pastor or talk to the person in charge of the Lector ministry in your parish. I suggest that you go to the parish website or the parish bulletin to find the correct contact information. Once you get in touch with the Coordinator for your respective ministry, you will probably have to do specialized training…

January 5th, 2012

A Call to Worship is the moment at the beginning of prayer or Mass when someone calls us together and centers us as a community. The Call to Worship usually takes the form of a welcome to the entire parish community. Sometimes birthdays, anniversaries or other special events are announced. And finally, in some parishes, the Call to Worship is a tool to help us remember…

January 4th, 2012

Let me begin by stating who the “magi” were not, at least according to Scripture. There is no evidence in Matthew’s Gospel (2:1-18) — the only one to mention the magi — that they were “three kings.” This tradition may have evolved because Psalm 72, which was perhaps a coronation psalm, contains a reference to kings rendering tribute and…

January 2nd, 2012

We don’t know exactly what Jesus called his mother when he was young. The Gospels don’t include any stories where the child Jesus addresses Mary directly, so we can only guess. It seems logical to assume that the young Jesus would have called his mother the Aramaic verison of “Mommy” or “Mama” (Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus and his community).…

December 30th, 2011

Christmas pageants often show the shepherds leaving the stage to make room for the magi who have come to worship the newborn Jesus. Yet according to Matthew’s Gospel (the only one mentioning the magi) Jesus was probably significantly older by the time the magi found their way to him. This detail is suggested by the fact that King Herod “sent and killed all…

December 28th, 2011

As Catholics, we don’t believe that ANYTHING in the Bible is invented. Rather, everything in the Bible is inspired. In other words, God is the author of the Bible and human authors wrote the Scriptures down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
With that in mind, the Catechism… (#115-117) teaches us to recognize that the Bible works on 2 levels: the

December 27th, 2011

It is Luke’s Gospel that gives us the famous picture of the newborn babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger (Lk 2:1-20). Luke never specifies that Jesus was born in a stable or a cave; he only states that there was no room for them in the inn. Many have come to imagine the birthplace as a stable because of the note about the manger, another name for an…

December 26th, 2011

Most experts are quick to point out that the Kwanzaa is absolutely NOT a religious or political holiday. In fact, it was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor at California State University 1966. Professor Karenga wanted to establish for people of African descent in America and around the world a way to celebrate family, culture and community. The seven…

December 25th, 2011

An exact date was attempted to be calculated for the Nativity of the Lord but it was deemed impossible (there was/is not enough information available to determine this).  So originally, March 25th the first day of spring was discussed as an appropriate day to celebrate the birth of Christ to coincide with the re-birth of the spring!   However, other scholars…

December 23rd, 2011

Keeping vigil has always been a spiritual practice in Catholicism. This is what we are essentially doing by attending any “Vigil” mass, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Savior.

There is also a Biblical reference here that can be included. The Shepherds in Luke’s infancy narratives in his Gospel were keeping watch over their sheep on the nightly vigil. In a sense, we are the same shepherds today and we are entrusted to keep watch over one another.

December 23rd, 2011

Absolutely. Anglican and Lutheran traditions have been celebrating Advent for centuries. Other Christian traditions have picked it up over the years, but the practice varies from congregation to congregation, depending on their polity and liturgical traditions.…

December 22nd, 2011

One beautiful Christmas tradition in the Philippines is the novena known as Simbang Gabi, from Tagalog words meaning “night worship” (sometimes translated as “misa de gallo” or “mass of the rooster” because of the early morning hour at which these masses are celebrated.)
Spanish missionaries instituted the custom of celebrating masses on…

December 21st, 2011

The church has never shied away from appropriating signs, symbols and rituals from the culture in which it finds itself and “baptizing” them, so to speak, and giving to them a Christian meaning. Christ himself did this in his own public ministry, using the rituals of his day and giving them new meaning in the order of Grace. Two obvious examples are his transformation…

December 20th, 2011

Of course they are! Catholics are free to sing “Jingle Bells” or “Frosty the Snowman” or any of the many songs that reflect the Christmas season.

Perhaps there are song parodies that might be objectionable material in general, but most of the tried and true carols that we know well can be sung by Catholics.

December 19th, 2011

Many families do wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to put the baby Jesus into the manger scene, for the reason that he has not yet been born, and that an empty manger captures the spirit of Advent. This, as you’ve pointed out, means that Mary ends up spending a few weeks kneeling by an empty manger. If manger scenes had poseable figurines, I suppose that…

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