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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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January 27th, 2011

Catholics believe that death is not the end of the human soul. The dead face a particular judgment which leads to damnation or salvation; those led to salvation may enter eternal life immediately or after a period of purification in purgatory. We don’t actually know what purgatory entails, although we do believe that we can have contact with the dead who have…

January 26th, 2011

No, not true. Even better than true. What your friend is referring to is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification which was signed by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation on October 31, 1999. See: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html…

January 20th, 2011

What is the best Catholic response to any problem? Pray, then act.
Pray for those who suffer from religious violence and persecution, that they will find safety and be able to live free from fear and coercion. And pray for the conversion of those who enable or perpetrate violence, that they will come to respect the human dignity and freedoms of all people.
Then…

January 19th, 2011

This is a very insightful question. Sometimes the differences in interpretation of Scripture and Tradition seem overwhelming. However, unity is possible because Christ prayed for it at the Last Supper “that they all be one…so that the world may believe.” Thus, as John Paul II said in Paragraph 20 of Ut Unum Sint, “the movement promoting Christian…

January 18th, 2011

Symbols matter and communicate. What we wear “says” something. One would not show up at a Philadelphia Eagles game in a NY Giants jersey and expect to go unnoticed. A man who takes off his wedding ring before going on a business trip to Las Vegas would be questioned closely by his wife.
Funerals are times of sober reflection, prayer and celebration of a deceased…

January 18th, 2011

Most likely.
The most remarkable thing about the Celebration of the Eucharist is that throughout 2,000 or so years- we have always come together to listen to the words of scripture and then share a meal together. Throughout the years, many people have prayed the Eucharist in many different ways. The 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal is just one more way to pray the…

January 14th, 2011

What we find in the New Testament is a reference to a woman named Phoebe as “minister of the church at Cenchreae” (Romans 16:1) The Greek word used here for minister is diakonos… which means servants, attendants, or ministers. St. Paul used the word to refer to himself on occasion as he did in 2 Cor 6:4 (“ministers of God”) and 2 Cor 11:23 (“ministers of

January 13th, 2011

Tithing (from an old English word meaning “tenth”) is the practice of donating a tenth of one’s income to the Church. Since its earliest days the Church has taught that all its members have a responsibility to support its mission and ministry; tithing is a shorthand way of describing that obligation in financial terms.
However, like many shorthand expressions,…

January 12th, 2011

Wait a minute! You if you reading this, you are already logged into one of the most popular Catholic websites on the planet! Throughout our history the Church has been at the forefront of social communications. There are several popular figures who come to mind just in the last century. In the 1950’s, Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s television show, “Life is…

January 11th, 2011

Born in Spain in 1580, Peter Claver, a bright student, entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and spent most of his life serving the slaves in Cartagena. From 1610 until his death he reached out to those captured by slave traders and brought to the new world. A third of the imprisoned Africans died in transit, the dreaded middle passage. Claver made his life’s…

January 7th, 2011

First of all, we don’t know exactly how many wise men visited the newborn king! This is one of those assumptions made by people throughout the ages that is not specifically mentioned in the Bible (just as the Book of Genesis never mentions an apple!). It is presumed that since they offered 3 gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Mt 2:11) – that…

January 6th, 2011

While the essentials of the Catholic marriage rite are the same throughout the world, the countless accoutrements that surround a wedding vary tremendously according to culture, region and economic status. Some Catholic brides in India wear red saris, while others choose white Western dresses; some couples stage elaborate engagement ceremonies, bridal…

January 5th, 2011

Secular Humanism is a particular worldview based on the principles of the Enlightenment. Typically, it dismisses religious affiliation or faith as beneath the dignity of the human person, who by reason and intellect alone, is capable of self actualization. Two of the most quoted phrases in this regard come from the 1973 Humanist Manifesto: “No deity will…

January 4th, 2011

St. Peter Canisius, a Dutchman known as the second apostle of Germany, was a 16th century Jesuit in the forefront of the effort to respond to the critiques of the Catholic church being made by protestant reformers in Germany, Switzerland and other parts of Europe. His pastoral strategies were built on the Jesuit idea of trying to see the good in the ideas and opinions…

January 3rd, 2011

Your question goes right to the heart of a crucial point about Mary: she was human, not divine. Being human, she did not have knowledge of the future in the way that God does. The message given by the angel during the Annunciation lets Mary know that her child will be the Son of God, so she knew that much, certainly. But there’s no evidence that she knew the details…

January 2nd, 2011

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is a liturgical celebration observed on January 1st.  It is a holy day of obligation for Catholics, meaning that Mass attendance is required (though the Mass obligation is sometimes waived by the bishop for various reasons; when in doubt, check with your parish.)
The use of the word “Solemnity” here is not a statement…

December 31st, 2010

Why not?  There’s nothing that requires us to make resolutions at the start of the new year as Catholics, however, we do seem to be a religion that holds this practice in high regard.
Each time we go to confession we “firmly resolve with the help of God’s grace” not to sin again.  We renew the promises we made at baptism during the Easter…

December 30th, 2010

Historically the most significant religious violence in India has involved its two largest religious groups, Hindus and Muslims. Christians in India (the majority of whom are Catholic) make up scarcely 2% of the population, and thus for many years they have remained largely on the sidelines of the conflict between these larger groups. However, high-profile…

December 27th, 2010

“The Joy of All Who Sorrow” is an Orthodox icon which depicts Mary standing below Jesus, who is in heaven. Mary is shown in the center of the icon, holding out her arms to the many suffering people around her, who are asking for her intercession. There are different variations of the icon, but all feature the same general subject and depict Mary’s loving prayers.…

December 27th, 2010

The stole is a scarf that was used as a symbol of authority for Roman officials. It would be something like the badge that a police or fire official wears today. The Catholic Church, when part of the Roman Empire, adopted the stole to indicate when a priest is engaged in his role as presider during the celebration of a Sacrament.
The colors for the vestments used in…

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