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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
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…

August 5th, 2011

The evangelist Luke wrote of a biological relationship between the mothers of Jesus and John the Baptist. Reportedly, the angel Gabriel told Mary “your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son.” (Lk 1:36). The original Greek text does not tell us exactly how they were related, but common tradition has held that because their mothers were…

August 2nd, 2011

Schools that require students to wear uniforms know that we take things more seriously when we are dressed for the occasion. Our dress communicates a great deal about who we are and what is important to us. When you dress for mass, you are telling yourself – and others around you – how much you care about what is taking place. Celebrating the Eucharist is the…

July 29th, 2011

According to legend in Western Christianity, there were three “wise men,” their names were Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar, and they were of various ethnic/racial origin. However, Matthew’s account of the magi’s visit (which is the only reference in the Bible to these famed visitors) tells us none of these details.
Because Matthew tells us that the…

July 27th, 2011

First communion day is very special for children. After a long period of preparation, they will finally receive the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time. There is often a lot happening that day. Your son may find himself sitting in a different place than your family usually sits and doing some things differently than he usually does at mass. He may have a special…

July 25th, 2011

First of all, I’d be wary of saying that Mary is “still appearing,” as that wording implies that there are approved apparitions happening on a daily basis. Though alleged Marian sightings do make for great news stories, only a very few of them have been investigated by the Church and found to be worthy of belief. It’s also important to remember that even…

July 25th, 2011

A church building is a special place calling for special behavior. While the church is our home and we should feel comfortable there – indeed, the church (small “c”) is a gathering place for the Church, the people of God (capital “C”) – that doesn’t mean that anything goes. Your actions in church show respect for God and for the community that gathers…

July 22nd, 2011

Sometimes a Catholic who reads from the New American Bible (NAB) can be overheard telling a Protestant who uses the King James Version (KJV) that she has more books in her Bible than he does — as if it’s a bragging right. The KJV has 39 books in the Old Testament, all written in Hebrew. However, the Old Testament of the NAB contains 46 books, including an additional…

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