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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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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,…

April 13th, 2011

Not true. Catholics may donate their bodies to science. However, it does require some special logistics for the funeral and burial. This is not hard to do since most tissue banks are very appreciative of the donation and work very hard to respect the wishes of the family. The Catholic funeral rite has three parts: the Vigil, the Funeral Mass, and the Burial Rite.…

April 6th, 2011

Yes, you should. Your presence there is about paying your respects to your deceased friend. It is not about making a statement. Also, remember that it is HIS minister, not yours. Go to the service, be respectful, comfort the family and pray for the repose of his soul. Participate in the service to the extent that you are able to in conscience. Most Protestant traditions…

March 28th, 2011

Q: Why did Mary and Jesus’ brothers go looking for him and why did Jesus turn them away? (Matthew 12:46-50)
In Matthew 12:46-50, while Jesus is preaching, his mother and brothers come looking for him. When someone points them out to Jesus, he answers, “’Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said,…

March 24th, 2011

Q: Do we have examples of Mary’s worthiness? I mean, why DID God choose her in the first place? What was so good about her?
There’s not a lot of information in Scripture about Mary. Her first appearance comes at the Annunciation, when the angel is announcing that she has been chosen to be the mother of the Savior. Her childhood is one of the subjects of the apocryphal…

March 23rd, 2011

The Taize Community, founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schutz, is an ecumenical Christian monastic community with its roots in Catholic and Protestant traditions. The community also makes use of other Christian traditions such as the veneration of icons as in the Eastern Orthodox Church. There have always been Catholic members of the community, which today…

March 18th, 2011

Indeed, Joseph is a quiet man in the Gospels, included in several stories in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels (which both include genealogies tracing Joseph’s lineage to King David) and briefly mentioned in John’s Gospel. No words are attributed to this carpenter in any of these passages and yet his presence speaks loudly. He is described as a man of faith,…

March 15th, 2011

Question:  I was in Africa and saw a bunch of priests and parishioners dancing and the offertory procession went on for a much longer time.  While beautiful it seemed to be much different than my experience of church in the US, Canada, and most of Europe and even Latin America.  Can you tell me how these innovations arose there and what they might be expressing…

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