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The Busted Halo Question Box
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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
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”…

May 11th, 2011

While I am unaware of any canonized saints who the Church would not consider in union with the Catholic faith, I do know that we share a number of saints with the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. These primarily include the early Church Fathers such as Ignatius of Antioch, Augustine of Hippo, John Chrysostom, Irenaeus of Lyons, and many others from the…

May 6th, 2011

The biblical authors loved numbers. Some numbers are good. Some are bad. Some numbers are repeated so often that we can rightly become a bit suspicious. For example, you might be surprised to know that the number forty occurs nearly 200 times in the Bible. The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 days; Moses remained on the mountaintop for 40 days; Jesus spent…

May 5th, 2011

The protests that have gripped the Middle East in recent months have had secular triggers: rampant poverty, high unemployment, government corruption and political oppression. While religious voices have been a part of the upheavals, they have not been at the forefront. Protesters clamor not for an Islamic state but for democracy and individual freedoms,…

May 4th, 2011

While I’m not sure exactly what you mean by a “secular prayer service” (since the phrase is an oxymoron), for purposes of discussion, I’ll assume that you mean a prayer given in a public setting such as a prayer breakfast or even a service where many differing religions are present such as an event marking “World AIDS Day” or the like. The fact of the…

May 2nd, 2011

Mary is the English translation of the Hebrew name Miriam (in Latin, it’s Maria). There are different possible meanings for the name Mary. Some sources say that it means “bitter,” while others suggest that it means something more like “beloved” or “the sublime one.” Whatever the meaning, it seems likely that Mary was named after Miriam the sister…

April 29th, 2011

John’s Gospel describes Jesus forming a “whip of cords” (John 2:15) and using it to drive out them out of the temple. How can we reconcile Jesus’ apparent anger with the notion of anger being a deadly sin? First, we don’t know that Jesus was angry. We do not have a description of his inner state of mind. What we do have is a description of bold behavior –…

April 27th, 2011

Yes, you may. While it may not be a sacramental marriage, a wedding is a wonderful time to share your friends’ joy. As you would at any other celebration with other Christians or people of other religious traditions, respectfully attend and participate to the extent that you can in conscience.
Most other traditions don’t have communion as a part of their…

April 26th, 2011

According to the formula of the Church established at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325, Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. (Note that the ecclesiastical designation of the spring equinox and the full moon does not always correspond to the astronomical designation.) This date was chosen in keeping…

April 25th, 2011

Catholics believe that Christ was conceived in Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and not through a human father. (See Luke 1: 26-38). Though there are other religions that feature stories of miraculous conceptions and births, that fact alone is not evidence that the virgin birth was just a narrative detail that was lifted from some other place. Take the Gospels,…

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