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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
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…

December 1st, 2011

Question:  I dropped by a local parish recently to visit the Lord in their perpetual adoration chapel. When I got there, however, there were no other “adorers” there and the Precious Body was covered by a cloth. My question is this: Why cover Him up? It doesn’t make the host cease to be the Body of Christ, right? And covered or not, He is well…

November 24th, 2011

Marriage in the Catholic Church is different from civil marriage. It is no mere legal contract, easily made and easily broken; rather, it is a covenantal relationship in which a man and woman commit their whole selves to each other, in love and fidelity, for the rest of their lives. The Church recognizes marriage as a sacrament, a special sign of God’s love in…

November 22nd, 2011

Every Mass that we celebrate is directed by the Bishop whether the Bishop is there in person or whether he has appointed a priest to celebrate the Mass (General Instruction for the Roman Missal #92). When the Bishop is present at the Mass, he will often preside over the entire Liturgy. In the event he does not preside for the entire Mass, he will at least preside over…

November 17th, 2011

Fees for a wedding ceremony go directly to the parish and are generally applied to administrative expenses: church upkeep and utilities, staff time and paperwork. The pastor receives a salary from the parish; weddings and other celebrations are part of his job and he isn’t paid according to how many he does. But, as you well know, a lot of time and energy goes…

November 15th, 2011

The Gloria and the Creed are reserved for our most solemn holy days, which includes the Sunday Celebration of the Eucharist and any other holy days in the Church (including Solemn Feast Days). The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (nos. 53 and 68) states that the Gloria should always be sung (or said) on Sundays (except during the seasons of Advent and Lent).…

November 10th, 2011

If you’re planning a Catholic wedding, then you and your fiancé have been working closely with your priest throughout the preparation process. He has probably met with you many times, helped you to arrange for an engaged encounter and/or marriage preparation classes, and guided you through the liturgical planning for the ceremony. Over this time you have…

November 9th, 2011

Question: Being a confirmed catholic in 2008, does attending a non-denominational Christian church go against a person’s Catholic beliefs? Also, is receiving communion at a non-denominational church also against the Catholic beliefs?
Attending a non-denominational church is does not go against Catholic beliefs, but receiving communion in that same…

November 7th, 2011

The USCCB has released a statement regarding flags in Church. Officially, there are no rules regarding state or national flags in the Church and the USCCB leaves it to the local bishop’s discretion on when, or if, to display flags in Church. Remember , in the Liturgy, we celebrate the living, dying and rising of Christ and all the symbols present in our Church…

November 3rd, 2011

Priests should dress tastefully and modestly, just as we all should, whether they are “on” or “off” duty. But, except for members of some religious orders that wear habits, they don’t have to follow any specific dress code. Black clothes and the Roman collar are extremely common for parish priests in the United States but are certainly not required.…

November 2nd, 2011

Militant atheism is one of the worst forms of proselytism. It is definitely a belief system which seeks to impose its will on those who might have differing opinions. To combat militant atheism on campus, do these four things:
1. Pray.… Why? Because it works. Pray for the conversion of those who seek to impose a militant atheism on college campuses. Pray for the

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