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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
July 4th, 2011

Question: How difficult must it have been for Mary to teach anything to Jesus? Wouldn’t he already know twenty ways to do whatever she asked?
Your question touches on one of the most intriguing aspects of Jesus: the fact that he was both fully human and fully divine. Admittedly, it’s hard to imagine how being fully God and fully man would work in practical terms,…

July 1st, 2011

Hosanna is derived from a Hebrew term meaning “Save, now!” or “Please save,” as used in Psalm 118:25. Christian usage of the word is typically understood as a shout of adoration or praise, as when Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the people shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9). The celebration…

June 29th, 2011

Prostitution existed in biblical times so it’s not surprising it got some press from the biblical writers who were firmly rooted in the particular culture and time. More often than not, the concept of prostitution was used by biblical writers as a metaphor for unfaithfulness to God (“prostitute themselves to a foreign god”) or as a judgment against detestable…

June 28th, 2011

There are several church documents that provide guidelines for Church Musicians. For a general guide on liturgy and music you can refer to Chapter VI of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. More recently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published Sing to the Lord, a document that provides musical guidelines for parishes and Church Musicians.…

June 27th, 2011

We don’t actually know why they came to find him. This story shows up in three places (Mark 3: 31-35, Luke 8:19-21, and Matthew 12:46-50), and none of the evangelists mentions the reason why Mary and Jesus’ brothers (often understood to be half-brothers or cousins; see the New American Bible footnote for Mark 6:3) are seeking him out. Mark’s version does…

June 24th, 2011

Lectors should be properly trained to not only READ the Word of God, but also PROCLAIM the Word of God…and a few simple steps can prepare your lectors for proclaiming the Word from the highest hill-tops!
The simplest way to prepare Lectors for worship is to give them the scripture reading in advance. Scheduling lectors so they know when and what they are reading…

June 22nd, 2011

Question: What is the oldest known manuscript of the Bible that has been found to date? Any new recent discoveries that I might not know about?
The oldest known manuscripts of the entire Christian Bible are the Codex Sinaiticus, so named because it was found at a monastery on Mt. Sinai, and the Codex Vaticanus, which takes its name from the Vatican library where…

June 21st, 2011

The way in which the Church translated the Roman Missal (the book that contains all the prayers for Mass) has changed. When translating a text, you can use two different approaches: dynamic equivalence or formal equivalence. Dynamic equivalence translates the original text based on meaning or spirit of the text. Formal equivalence is a literal word-for-word…

June 20th, 2011

John’s Gospel has no birth or infancy narratives, but it does have two key stories that highlight Mary’s involvement in Jesus’ adult life. The first is the Wedding at Cana, when Mary tells Jesus that there is no more wine.
Though he responds by saying, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come,” (John 2:4), Mary confidently tells…

June 17th, 2011

You won’t find this quote in the Bible, but it is sometimes mistakenly attributed to Jesus. The original quote is from St. Augustine, a famous bishop of Hippo in northern Africa and an influential Catholic theologian who died in 430 A.D.
Mohandas Gandhi borrowed the idea and further popularized it when he wrote in his 1929 autobiography to “hate the sin and…

June 16th, 2011

Mary MacKillop, the co-founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), is one of our most recently canonized saints and was the first Australian to be canonized. She lived from 1842-1909. As a teacher and dedicated servant of the poorest of the poor, she led her sisters to found schools, orphanages, homes for the…

June 15th, 2011

Mormons go on mission ostensibly for the same reason that Catholics go on mission, albeit for a very different version of the Gospel. In their Book of Doctrine and Covenants they claim that Jesus said, “proclaim my gospel from land to land, and from city to city… bear testimony in every place, unto every people” (Doctrine and Covenants 66:5,7). They will…

June 13th, 2011

Luke’s Gospel has much more information about Mary than the other three do. He gives us a very intimate portrait of her, showing her initial surprise at the arrival of the angel Gabriel and her subsequent acceptance of her role as the Mother of the Savior. Luke also includes the story of Mary visiting her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, which gives us a rare glimpse…

June 10th, 2011

The Catholic Church teaches that the Bible is a literary product of its time which must be read with due attention to its literary genre (Vatican II).
Some books of the Bible were written as “historical narrative” and attempted to preserve some basic historical happenings, for example the rise of the Israelite kingdom and the building of the Temple under…

June 8th, 2011

Sure, although it’s not all that “secret.” You can ask any Mormon about it. The “garment” as it is commonly called, is a symbol of their dedication to God and the religious promises that they have made. It is conferred, somewhat like a religious habit, in a temple ceremony known as the “temple endowment.” This is when they are instructed in what…

June 7th, 2011

Good for you for taking your Lenten fast so seriously! During the season of Lent, the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are meant to help us turn away from whatever has derailed us along the way and turn back to God. By giving up dessert for Lent, you are fasting from something that gives you pleasure and offering that sacrifice to God. If skipping dessert…

June 6th, 2011

Of the four Gospels, Mark has the least information about Mary. There is no infancy narrative in Mark, so we hear nothing about Jesus’ birth or early life. The first reference to Mary is in Mark 3:31-35, when Jesus’ family (including his mom) come looking for him while he is preaching. Mary is later mentioned by name when Jesus returns to Nazareth and the people…

June 3rd, 2011

Let’s imagine that your friend were sober and broke your phone by sheer accident. Should she feel obligated to compensate you? Yes. She is responsible for the damage, much the way one would be responsible for breaking a dish in a china shop. The fact that she was drunk implies negligence and increases her responsibility, rather than mitigating it. (Consider…

June 2nd, 2011

In the biblical notion of time, one day ends and another begins at sundown, rather than at 12:00 midnight. (Recall that “evening came, and morning followed – the first [etc.] day” in the creation story of Genesis 1:1-2:4a.) Thus when evening falls on Saturday, according to the understanding of the Church, Sunday begins. When you attend a Saturday evening…

June 1st, 2011

The two are very different. In Latter Day Saint (“Mormon”) polity, a ward denotes a large local congregation. Smaller local congregations are called branches. A ward is presided over by a “bishop,” a position which is analogous to a pastor in most other denominations.
A temple is different in that while it may also be used for worship and prayer, its…

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