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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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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…

May 31st, 2011

In my church, there’s a chapel dedicated to Mary. Above the altar is a very traditional white statue of Mary, holding her hands in prayer, her eyes downcast. But on the wall above that statue, there is a large woodcarving of Mary in a totally different pose: her arms outstretched, looking straight at you, strong and determined. It’s easy to miss that triumphant…

May 27th, 2011

Abraham is considered our father in faith by three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. So, let’s begin there. Abraham (or Abram, as we first encounter him) is a central figure in the story of salvation history. It is through him that God established his covenant. That’s another way of saying that it is through Abraham that God entered into…

May 26th, 2011

Catholics should remember those who gave their life for country and freedom, just as everyone else does on Memorial Day. Perhaps even doing so at mass is a particular way for Catholics to celebrate the day. It’s not a sin to be patriotic and to remember that some things are indeed worth fighting for when other means have not secured our freedoms. People have…

May 25th, 2011

Must a Catholic have a wake or a funeral–my friend’s wife doesn’t want one for her dying Catholic husband?
While not speculating about the dynamics of their relationship, it is the right of every baptized Catholic in good standing to receive the funeral rites of the Church. These include the Vigil (Wake), the Mass of Christian Burial, and…

May 20th, 2011

Jesus did not ask Peter this question 3 times because he was hard of hearing or slow to comprehend Peter’s answers! The fact that Jesus asks Peter this question – “do you love me?” – three times is very significant.

May 19th, 2011

Certain holidays have greater importance in a given region or culture than in others because of the widely divergent traditions that are collectively called Hinduism. But some Hindu festivals are observed widely throughout India. Among these are Holi, the spring festival which commemorates the slaying of the demon Holika by Prahlad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu.…

May 18th, 2011

I’m sorry to tell you that this is not allowed. Catholic prayers are said at Catholic weddings; Buddhist prayers are said at Buddhist weddings.
The principle here is that one should always avoid the practice of “syncretism”; that is, the combination of the rites and prayers of various religious traditions into an amalgam which is truly expressive of…

May 13th, 2011

The Acts of the Apostles, which is a sequel to Luke’s Gospel, is an action-packed thriller, to borrow from today’s vernacular. It’s hard to imagine reading the Acts of the Apostles and NOT coming away with a sense of enthusiasm and eagerness to proclaim the Good News! In fact, I often recommend to people that they begin their study of the New Testament by…

May 12th, 2011

Hindu religious texts are some of the world’s oldest sacred writings. A group of texts known as the Vedas, containing hymns and sacrificial formulas, originated in North Indian oral traditions and were written down from roughly 1500-500 BCE. These texts are described as “heard” and considered to be divinely revealed, as opposed to later “remembered”…

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