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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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March 11th, 2011

Yes, it is. Almost all world religions prohibit interreligious marriage or severely restrict it. They do this for several good reasons. First, it is necessary for the cohesion of the family. The old adage, “The family who prays together, stays together,” is more than just a nice platitude. When a family is united in faith, it is united at its very core. Interfaith…

March 7th, 2011

We don’t have much background about Joseph, and he never speaks in the Gospels. That said, the things we do know point to a man who had integrity and compassion. Matthew ‘s gospel describes him as a “righteous” (1:19) man who was deeply concerned when he learned Mary was pregnant, which indicates that he cared about following the Mosaic law; at the same…

March 4th, 2011

First of all, mountains are mentioned frequently in the Bible because mountains dotted the landscape of biblical regions. In other words, while mountains have a significant symbolic value in the Bible, they first and foremost are part of the physical reality of the Bible. As a result, mountains and hills are mentioned over 500 times in the Bible. Mountains…

March 3rd, 2011

Officially, yes – Christianity is one of three religious minorities recognized by the Iranian government (the other two are Judaism and Zoroastrianism.) The Islamic Republic of Iran is officially a theocracy, in which political and religious authority are intertwined. Shia Islam is the state religion, but these three groups – which together make up…

March 2nd, 2011

Sadly, yes. In an article by Naomi Schaefer Riley, in the Sunday, June 6, 2010, edition of the Washington Post, she notes that the American Religious Identification Survey of 2001 indicates that couples in religiously mixed marriages are three times more likely to get divorced than couples who share the same religious faith. There are also variations, usually…

February 28th, 2011

In Luke 1:42, when the pregnant Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, Elizabeth greets her by saying, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” This verse, of course, later became part of the “Hail Mary” prayer.
Incidentally, the expression “fruit of thy womb” is also found elsewhere in the Bible, not just in reference to…

February 25th, 2011

When it comes to important people in the Old Testament, Moses is “Da Man!”
Says who? Well, start with the Bible itself as it characterizes Moses at the time of his death: “Since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. He had no equal in all the signs and wonders the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh…

February 24th, 2011

Many cultures have traditions surrounding the Epiphany. In Spain and Latin America, Three Kings Day, rather than Christmas, is an occasion for gift-giving, and children set out their shoes the night before in hope of receiving a gift from the three kings. Greeks mark the day with a traditional blessing of the waters, when the ban on sailing on rough winter seas…

February 23rd, 2011

No, this is never a good idea. If you truly want to explore other religions, it is best to do so from a point of view which is firmly grounded in your own Catholic Faith. This is to avoid the problem of relativism which leads to synchretism. Relativism is the attitude that all religions are basically the same. Distinctions are minimized and what is unique about each…

February 22nd, 2011

The Old Baltimore Catechism gave the definition of prayer as “the lifting of our hearts and minds to God.” However, we have to remember something that I think renders this definition incomplete. Simply put, we cannot magically lift ourselves to God. If only that were true! God instead lowers himself to come to us. It is God who is always willing to…

February 21st, 2011

When Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus to the temple, Simeon tells Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many may be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul, too.” (Luke 2:34-35) These words warn Mary that she will suffer along with her son…

February 18th, 2011

Indeed. It might be best to start off with looking at what kind of stories you enjoy reading. If you like good humor, you may want to read Jonah or Tobit to get you engaged in reading other books. Love poetry? Try the Song of Songs, the Psalms or the Proverbs.
It’s also not always wise to read an entire book of the Bible in one sitting. Better to read sections over…

February 16th, 2011

Since you are writing a Catholic website, I’m assuming that either you or your fiancé is Catholic, so I’m going to answer the question with that in mind. You also don’t mention whether the proposed marriage is between two Christians or between a Catholic and someone from another religion, so I’ll answer both.
It’s important to remember that strictly…

February 15th, 2011

Read Bustedhalo.com daily! =)
And read some of the classic reflections on faith and service like Thomas Merton’s letter to a young activist or the “Oscar Romero” prayer (which actually was penned by Bishop Ken Utener.
Read about the great ones: Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Read good contemporary spiritual writers: John Dear, S.J., Annie…

February 14th, 2011

Think of it this way: if you needed help with something, you’d probably ask for the support of someone who has had personal experience with the issue in question. This is the idea behind patron saints – why John the Evangelist is a patron saint of writers, say, or why Joan of Arc is one of the patron saints of soldiers.
When it comes to sexual purity (I’m assuming…

February 11th, 2011

The word “ministry” can be equated to mean the work that the church does in the world. Therefore anyone who does “ministry” is a minister. This includes priests, deacons, women religious, brothers and lay professionals (like youth ministers and campus ministers).
Usually all of these people hold a master’s degree in theology,…

February 10th, 2011

The word “cult”, in its original sense, refers to a collection of practices and rituals associated with a religion or with a particular aspect of a religion. This is how the word is primarily used in academic discourse. Thus we can speak of the cult of a particular saint in reference to the devotions associated with honoring that saint in Catholic Christianity,…

February 9th, 2011

Words are very important here. Because of very real differences in faith, it is not possible for Christians to pray with those of another religious tradition. However, we may, and in fact are encouraged to respectfully be in the presence of people of other religious traditions when they are at prayer, just as we would encourage them to observe us when we pray.…

February 8th, 2011

The answer to this question is a bit above my pay grade. As a Jesuit, I’m not in the loop of the diocesan priests’ world. They better know who is moving up the ladder of ecclesiastical offices. The priests who study in Rome seem to get to know one another and they would have a better sense of who from other countries has a chance of becoming Pope. If you really want…

February 7th, 2011

Actually, we owe the first half of it to the angel Gabriel and to Mary’s cousin Elizabeth. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” are the words of the angel when he greets Mary at the Annunciation (Luke 1:28). During the visitation, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth welcomes her with the words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your…

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