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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 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…

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…

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