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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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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…

December 17th, 2011

“Swaddling clothes” can also be translated as “cloth strips,” “bands of cloth” or even “rags.” It is likely Mary and Joseph used what little they had on hand at the end of an unanticipated 70 mile trip to Bethlehem that would have taken them several days to a week to walk. This is one of several details in Luke’s Gospel that suggest Mary and Joseph…

December 16th, 2011

While “Hanukkah bushes”, so called, have found their way into some American Jewish household, the practice is still relatively rare. Most Jews that I know do not like the practice simply because it smacks of “synchretism”, the amalgamation of symbols and rituals of different religions which are truly representative of none. One may call it a “Hanukkah…

December 14th, 2011

Question: Should I have my kids only receive gifts for a charity this Christmas or would that be against our tradition?  We’re pretty well off but I understand that we really should exchange some kind of gift during the Christmas season?…
We live in convoluted and confusing times.  Before the present economic crisis, people in the USA spent $200 Billion

December 13th, 2011

I can offer three that would be good to pray with:
1) St. Thomas Aquinas — the official patron of scholars and a doctor of the church. His great work, the Summa Theologica,… might just be something you’re studying in fact.
2) Blessed John Newman is not yet a saint but is on the way to being one. He was very active in the intellectual life and set up centers

December 12th, 2011

This is a great question, and it touches on so much of what Catholics believe about Mary. I’ll throw out a few different ideas here, and hopefully one or more of them will resonate with you.
First of all, the fact that you have the desire to heal this relationship means that you’re already on your way. I’d start by telling Mary more about the struggles you and…

December 9th, 2011

If you were to read all four gospels thoroughly in search of Jesus’ teachings on homosexuality it would be a futile endeavor. Not only would you come to the end of the gospels without finding anything attributed to Jesus on the subject, you wouldn’t even find a single reference to the issue in any context…

December 8th, 2011

It comes from the Miraculous Medal, which is a small medal often worn by Catholics. In 1830, a young French nun named Catherine Labouré had several visions of Mary. In one of these visions, she saw Mary standing on a globe with a snake (Satan) under her feet. Around the image of Mary, Catherine saw the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse…

December 7th, 2011

From its inception, the apostolic Church spread east and west. In due time the churches in these areas took on the language, traditions and culture in which they found themselves. In the west, the Church grew up in the predominantly Roman Latin culture and became the Roman Catholic Church. In the east, the Church became more and more associated with Greek Byzantium.…

December 6th, 2011

No! This is a common misconception about the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal. The new missal is not better than the words we have been praying for 40 years…it is just a different way to pray. How is the new missal different? A different tool was used for translation from the original Latin text. In the 1975 Sacramentary (the book we previously used), translators…

December 5th, 2011

There is almost no information in the Gospels about what Mary was doing or where she was during the years of Jesus’ ministry. One story we do have, told by three of the four evangelists (Mark 3: 31-35, Luke 8:19-21, and Matthew 12:46-50), talks about how Mary and Jesus’ brothers come looking for him. The use of the word “brothers” here is often understood…

December 1st, 2011

The Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins, S.J., has called the writings of the prophet Isaiah “the fifth gospel.” By this he means that so many of the themes of the gospels, enfleshed in their portrayal of Jesus, have their scriptural beginnings in Isaiah. Isaiah’s connection to the story of Jesus seems particularly strong in the…

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