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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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September 23rd, 2011

Certainly there are Old Testament passages that portray a harsh God that many of us would find difficult to accept. For example, God smites the Egyptians and indiscriminately strikes down their firstborn in Exodus, or God comes off like a bad parent who threatens punishment to followers in an attempt to coerce good behavior. Contrary to popular belief, though,…

September 19th, 2011

Mary never had the stigmata (miraculous wounds or pain that correspond to the physical suffering of Christ) . She certainly suffered great emotional pain; Simeon said as much during the Presentation of the infant Jesus, when he told Mary that a sword would pierce her soul. I’ve no doubt she watched her son being crucified and probably had an emotional pain…

September 16th, 2011

Mark’s gospel is sometimes called “the gospel with no Christmas and a shaky Easter” because it tells us nothing about Jesus’ birth, and the oldest manuscripts we have of the gospel ended at 16:8a: The women “fled from the tomb and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Therefore, there is not even an “Easter,” so to speak, in this…

September 9th, 2011

We don’t know how old Jesus was historically when he died. Luke’s gospel tells us “Now Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his ministry” (Lk 3:23). This is the only allusion to Jesus’ age in the Bible. The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) seem to suggest that Jesus’ public ministry lasted about a year because they recount one time when…

September 8th, 2011

As someone who lost two dear friends on that dreaded day of September 11, 2001, I know how incredibly painful it must be for anyone to consider forgiveness for those who carried out the violent acts of terrorism that day.
Too often, however, we equate forgiveness with being a doormat. That because someone has so drastically wronged us, we often have a default position…

September 8th, 2011

Does your workplace have a dress code? If so, remind your employee that when she was hired she agreed to follow it. Review the dress code with her during her performance evaluation or at another appropriate opportunity. If you’re a man, you might ask a trusted female colleague to have this conversation with your employee; she may even be able to make tactful…

September 6th, 2011

In the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal, the Penitential Rite has now become the Penitential Act. In this reconciliatory action, there are a couple of very noticeable changes to the Confiteor (the old and new text of the Confiteor are below). First, instead of saying the phrase, “I have sinned greatly through my own fault,” we will now pray, “I have greatly…

September 5th, 2011

No, the Hail Mary is not a part of the Catholic Mass. That said, I have been to a few Masses where the priest inserts a Hail Mary at the end of his homily (this sometimes happens on Mother’s Day or on a Marian feast day). I know of no prohibitions against doing so as long as the Hail Mary does not replace one of the prayers of the Mass. Overall, though, the Hail Mary is prayed…

September 2nd, 2011

You are correct in noting that our Sunday lectionary cycle revolves around the synoptic gospels of Matthew (year A), Mark (year B) and Luke (year C) yet we don’t have a year dedicated to reading from the gospel of John. The only times we hear accounts from the fourth evangelist are occasionally in the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, but not during…

August 26th, 2011

Regardless of how much you search and how closely you read the text, you won’t find an account of what we know of as the sixth station of the cross, Veronica wiping the face of Jesus, because it isn’t in the Bible. It is one of our Catholic legends that grew up after the Bible was written. The sources of the legend are varied, but it is noted in some medieval texts…

August 25th, 2011

Imagine that an opposing team’s player found your team’s playbook and wanted to share it with his teammates. Would that help you to answer your own question? The eighth commandment (do not bear false witness against your neighbor) calls us to respect the truth, and that involves a respect for private information and legitimate secrets. Even though you…

August 23rd, 2011

In the Mass, the entire gathered assembly celebrates together with the priest (or prayer leader). Since the whole community celebrates together, the term “celebrant” is not the best way to describe the role of the priest in the Mass, because it sets the role of the priest against the role of the rest of the assembly (if we say that the priest is the only celebrant—what…

August 22nd, 2011

First of all, congratulations on the new job. Second, it’s a bit hard to answer the question as I’m not entirely sure where your discomfort lies. Does it lie in the fact that it felt wrong to pray for success? If so, rest easy. There is nothing wrong with asking for God’s help so you can do a good job at your job. We could probably all use a little divine help in that…

August 19th, 2011

Mel Gibson took some “creative license” in his movie, including making the unfortunate connection you mention here.
John’s gospel recounts a story of a woman, unnamed, who is caught in the act of adultery (Jn 7:53-8:11). As she is about to be stoned, Jesus says “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” There is no mention…

August 18th, 2011

Your coworker’s marital status is actually insignificant – the fact that you describe your behavior as “leering” suggests that it has gone beyond appropriate admiration and become an expression of lust. How can you tell the difference? A good clue would be that you would be embarrassed if your coworker found out what you are doing. In Catholic language,…

August 15th, 2011

In the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus…, Pope Piux XII wrote that  Mary, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”  Thus the Assumption, a long-standing tradition of the Church, was formalized into a dogma of faith.
The wording of this quotation, however, leaves open the

August 12th, 2011

It takes some detective work to parse out the information about the various Marys mentioned in the gospels. The episode you mention is particularly confusing because there are four different accounts with varied details in each of the four gospels.
Mark and Matthew both mention an unnamed woman who anoints Jesus’ head with either nard or ointment. Luke tells…

August 10th, 2011

On August 15, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary. For the celebration of the Mass, the most common things we can do is pray the propers from the Roman Missal and use the readings for the Assumption Mass. You can also select music that is that is both Marion (but be careful not too make every hymn you sing a Marion hymn-we must also keep in mind that we are celebrating…

August 9th, 2011

The answer depends on your employer’s policies, as well as on whether you’re a day care provider, an office worker, or a firefighter, to give just a few possibilities. Some parents, occasionally or regularly, manage to integrate their children into their working environments. Others find it inappropriate or downright impossible. But your question…

August 8th, 2011

Well, there’s no mention of Spot or Kitty in the Gospels, so it’s hard to say for certain. I’m guessing that pet ownership was not a big thing in Nazareth during Jesus’ lifetime; most families would probably have only been able to afford to keep animals that were useful in some way (food production, etc.). It’s fair to say that…

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