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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
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
April 24th, 2015

Q: Most Bible scholars agree that Paul’s letters are the oldest portion of the New Testament, i.e., these were written before the Gospels. Why then, does Paul not mention the virgin birth, not mention any miracles, not mention the empty tomb? Why does Paul cite a spiritual resurrection but not speak of a physical resurrection? If Judas committed suicide,…

April 21st, 2015

In the Second Chapter of John’s Gospel we read about the Wedding Feast at Cana. Mary approaches Jesus and asks him to do something about the fact that they have run out of wine. Jesus responds: “Woman, how does this concern me?”
Women in Jewish culture at the time were viewed as property and as unreliable witnesses. Men addressing women as “woman”…

April 16th, 2015

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.

April 13th, 2015

Question: Did Pope Francis really say that those who do not believe in God can be saved, and that Atheists can also be saved?
Yes. Pope Francis said that not long ago:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood…

April 9th, 2015

In first century Palestine where Jesus was living, tax collectors were individuals who worked for Roman administrators. They were responsible for collecting taxes to support the Roman Empire, which governed Jesus’ homeland. (Think of the IRS in our day.) Some of the taxes levied on the Jewish people might have been oppressive in themselves, but sometimes…

April 8th, 2015

Question: My daughter died a couple weeks ago from cancer and before she died she saw our dead dog. Did he really come for her? Are they with me now, and will I see them again when I get to heaven and are they well now?
First of all, please know of our condolences to you and your family on the death of your daughter.
Secondly, in answer to the first part of your question,…

March 30th, 2015

Some parishes, in an attempt to reenact the Last Supper (traditionally defined as a Passover supper) hold a seder meal for their parishioners. This recently has been the subject of much controversy. There’s a great article discussing this here.
In short, we should note the following:
1) A seder is not for Christians. Just as a Christmas tree is not for…

March 27th, 2015

Technically speaking, Catholics are firstly required to fast on Good Friday, meaning to eat only one full meal for the day and then to merely sustain themselves for the rest of the day — meaning two smaller meals that do not equal the one large meal.
To your question, Catholics are also required to abstain from eating meat on both Good Friday and each Friday…

March 25th, 2015

Question: I have a close friend. We spend so much time together, we also sleep in the same bed — no funny business. Is it a sin to sleep in the same bed and or house?
While the act of mere sleeping is not sinful in and of itself, this situation certainly lies in the danger zone of Catholic teaching. We call this the “near occasion of sin.” By sleeping…

March 11th, 2015

Q: I have a rather odd question regarding fasting during Lent while dealing with an eating disorder. Fasting (not eating) is very easy, yet could do me more harm than good. I want to practice according to the Church’s teaching, yet I want to stay healthy. What are your thoughts?
Fasting is a means of self-denial used as a penance for sins throughout the season…

March 11th, 2015

We should highlight an important point here: There is a distinction between matters of faith and other practices of the Church. The essential truths of the faith — Tradition with a capital T — do not change and cannot ever be updated or modernized. But many aspects of the life and practice of the Church — tradition with a lower case t —…

March 6th, 2015

In Jewish and Christian tradition, the number 40 has symbolic meaning. A period of 40 days or years, more than being a literal measurement, represents a long time and a period of preparation or testing. When 40 days or 40 years have passed, the appropriate period or the “right amount of time” has been completed in preparation for the working of God’s grace.…

March 4th, 2015

Questions about “unpardonable sin” often arise because of Mark 3:29 and its parallels. Responding to claims that he was possessed by an evil spirit, Jesus says that “whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” This challenging passage has been interpreted in many ways over the centuries.…

February 27th, 2015

There are a bunch of possibilities here. The first is to take advantage of times when these issues naturally come up. So, you might organize a special event for Earth Day or bake and share Christmas cookies made with fair trade chocolate…

February 25th, 2015

Please, first of all, accept our deepest condolences. Suicide is always tough for those who are left behind, so please know that we are keeping you and your family in prayer.
Catholics trust in the mercy of God. That is THE central element of our faith and Pope Francis has taken great strides to make sure that it is preached far and wide to the faithful. What we know…

February 20th, 2015

Q: During Mass, before you receive communion, shouldn’t you be on your knees before God? Standing doesn’t seem right to me on one hand. On the other hand I want to follow current teachings. Can you shed some light?
Kneeling was once the common posture for receiving communion, and some people wonder if this is a more reverent way to receive the Body and Blood…

February 19th, 2015

You’re out with your friends on a Friday night and suddenly you notice that one of them has switched from his favorite microbrew to… lemonade? Is it time for Lent already? Giving up something for Lent sometimes evokes head-scratching in non-Catholics, but what might seem like just another Catholic eccentricity can actually be a practice with deep spiritual…

February 4th, 2015

Q: How do we reconcile the teaching to “love thy neighbor” and the traditions of Christian faith with controversial topics such as gay marriage?

Viewed from within, the Church believes its position on gay marriage is a stance of love. But sometimes what comes across instead is scorn or fear, stemming from ignorance of what it is like to stand in the shoes of…

January 30th, 2015

Let’s start with what “spirituality” essentially is. Spirituality is a growing intimacy with God experienced through the people, events, places, and things in each day’s living. And how will that happen? Through what you see, hear, taste, touch, smell. We are embodied spirits, and the doorways to our hearts and minds are our senses.…

January 28th, 2015

Q: I’m in a three-year Pastoral Institute course that our diocese is offering. This is my third round of taking these courses in two different dioceses over a 20-year period, and I have never been taught scripture like this. The current course is on the Old Testament being taught by a religious sister of 72 years. I believe she knows her stuff, but I am questioning…

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