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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.

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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
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

May 7th, 2012

When you look at the Annunciation story in the gospel of Luke, you can see that the angel’s message is pretty astonishing.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne…

May 3rd, 2012

The word “hex”, meaning a spell or curse, derives from a German word for practicing sorcery; the word “jinx”, meaning something that brings bad luck, may derive from the Latin name of a bird used in witchcraft in ancient times. Catholics do not believe in either, nor in the many similar superstitions abounding in popular culture. The idea of a supernatural…

April 30th, 2012

The Hail, Holy Queen (known as the “Salve Regina” in the original Latin) is one of the most well-known prayers about Mary. It is a prayer of petition, asking Mary for her prayers on our behalf. Various sources place its origins in the eleventh or twelfth century. In medieval times, monks and friars sang it at the end of the day, and it is currently one of the four…

April 26th, 2012

It is always better to root for someone than to root against someone. What you really hope for is your team’s success, not the opponent’s failure, even though the latter is a necessary consequence of the former. (An even better attitude would be to hope that the best team may win, but for many sports fans that’s too much to ask.) In any case, your question applies…

April 23rd, 2012

Ordinarily in the Mass, the priest wears three types of sacred vestments:
Alb: This garment is common to both ordained and instituted members of the Church. The Alb is a long white garment that is worn over ordinary clothing. Often, a cincture is used around the waist so that the alb can fit properly.
Chasuble: This is a vestment that comes in many colors and the…

April 23rd, 2012

The Gospels make no mention of Elizabeth as Mary’s midwife (nor do they mention any other midwife, either). There is a local midwife who appears in the Protoevangelium of James, the apocrphyal text written about 150 AD; this text, though, doesn’t have the authority of Scripture, so it’s hard to look upon it as a completely reliable source, especially…

April 19th, 2012

Suffering and death are part of life, for humans and animals alike. We strive to eliminate unnecessary suffering brought about by cruelty and sin. But there is no such thing as a life without suffering, in spite of what popular culture promises. For human beings, suffering can be redemptive and lead one to a deeper commitment to Christ who suffered and died for…

April 18th, 2012

While the members of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” consider themselves “Christians” very few Christians would recognize the Jesus that is taught by the LDS. While they use “Christian,” the same words that other Christians use, the meanings they attribute to those words are actually quite different. For example,…

April 16th, 2012

Even though Mary was the mother of the Son of God, she didn’t get a free pass in the diaper department. The Church teaches that Jesus was human in all things but sin. Thus, just like any other baby, he ate, digested, and yes, needed his diapers changed (or whatever passed for diapers in first-century Palestine). Unless Joseph was a dad who was radically ahead of…

April 12th, 2012

In a word, yes. Our whole moral law rests on the great commandment given to us by Jesus: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. … You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:36-40). It is difficult to imagine truly loving our neighbors without attention to their needs, especially if…

April 10th, 2012

Who picks the music at Mass varies from place to place. In some parishes, there is a special liturgy committee that helps select the music for worship. In other parishes, the responsibility is left up to the music director. Almost always, the pastor has at least some input on what music is sung at the Mass. If you are interested in finding out how it is done at your…

April 9th, 2012

Obviously, the Bible doesn’t recount every conversation that Mary and Jesus had over the course of their lives. But we know that they do seem to have a difference of opinion at the Wedding at Cana, in John 2. When the wine runs out, Mary informs Jesus of this fact, as if to imply that he should do something about it (her words to the servers – “Do whatever he tells…

April 6th, 2012

The sections of the gospels that tell of Jesus’ suffering and death are commonly referred to as the “Passion narratives” or his “Passion.” The term is derived from several instances in the original manuscripts that mention Jesus’ pascho, the Greek verb meaning “to suffer.” Later when the Bible was translated in Latin, this Greek word was…

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…

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