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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
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.…

March 5th, 2012

Mary was human, not divine, so she did not possess the power to miraculously stop the crucifixion from happening. Like the other witnesses of Jesus’ death, she could only stand by, watch, and (surely) pray for her son as he suffered.
If your question is asking whether she could have spoken to the authorities and halted their plans, it’s unlikely that such…

March 2nd, 2012

The Book of Jonah is a very short prophetic book. In it, Jonah ran away from his calling (God asked him to preach repentance to the wicked city of Ninevah) only to endanger the sailors whose ship he had boarded. A great storm arose that threatened to sink the ship. Jonah volunteered to be thrown overboard in an effort to quell the storm, and God provided a large fish…

February 29th, 2012

Yes. Depending on what the result of our impatience is, it could be a quite serious sin.
For example, if we are impatient in waiting for someone to die who is in great suffering and we euthanize them ourselves, we commit murder by allowing our impatience to rule us.
Impatience is something that is a bad habit and can be changed with frequent prayer. Listening to where…

February 28th, 2012

The corporal is a small square piece of white cloth that is placed on top of the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The paten and chalice are placed on top of the corporal for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.…

February 27th, 2012

At the wedding feast at Cana, when Mary tells Jesus that there is no more wine, Jesus responds, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour is not yet come.” (John 2:4). Although this form of address sounds harsh and rude to modern ears, “woman” was actually a term of respect and honor at the time. That said, it was still a rather unusual thing for a person…

February 24th, 2012

Did Jesus know how to read? Someone told me he was illiterate.
The vast majority of the population in Palestine in Jesus’ day would have been illiterate, with some historians suggesting that less than 10% of the population would have been able to read. Members of the peasant class, of which Jesus’ family would have been a part, rarely had the time or luxury…

February 23rd, 2012

Question: If I caught a student cheating, but he’d lose a scholarship to a good college if I turn him in, should I look the other way? He is poor and from the inner city.…
This is a complex moral dilemma. Catholic moral teaching is that one cannot do evil that good may come of it — thus in spite of his noble goal of going on to college, the student’s cheating

February 22nd, 2012

While many Christians wear ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, few, if any, don sackcloth! And yet, the two are often mentioned in the same breath in Scripture (1Mac 3:47; Esther 4:3-4; Is 58:5; Jer 6:26; Dan 9:3; Jon 3:6; Mt 11:21, to name a few). Today, we tend to picture someone wearing sackcloth as someone wearing a burlap bag with holes for the head and…

February 22nd, 2012

If you’re already familiar with the US Bishops’ document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, you’re off to a good start. This document, reissued in 2011 in anticipation of the presidential election cycle, helps Catholics discern how the teaching of the Church can apply in matters of public policy. Check out the USCCB website at http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/…

February 21st, 2012

Bringing up the gifts at the offertory is a great ministry mainly because it is so simple—there is no training needed. And as for actually getting to participate sometimes you just have to be at the right place at the right time! In most parishes, an usher or Mass Coordinator will flag down someone as they are walking into Church and ask if they would be interested…

February 20th, 2012

When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, it was surely a terrible shock to Joseph. Though he and Mary were betrothed, meaning they had given public and binding vows to each other, they had not yet lived together as man and wife. The only logical conclusion Joseph could reach on his own was that Mary was pregnant by another man – in other words, that she had committed…

February 17th, 2012

No literature from the Sadducees has survived, so we have little historical information about them. What we do know is that like the Pharisees, the Sadducees comprised a sect of Judaism around the time of Jesus who usually appeared in opposition to Jesus in the gospels. They were part of the wealthy power elite of Jerusalem and they dominated the Sanhedrin, the…

February 16th, 2012

As Catholics participating in civic life we have the responsibility to inform ourselves about candidates and issues and to form ourselves with the teaching of the Church, rather than blindly (or lazily) following any kind of party line. Thus you should ask if the positions of the Tea Party are in keeping with the principles of your Catholic faith. The Tea Party,…

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