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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 26th, 2014

Q: How do we remain optimistic and keep the faith when we are in the valley, during our lowest of the low? When we feel like Job — everything goes wrong, everything bad happens, and we are ready to throw in the towel, when it becomes a pity party and we don’t WANT to hear advice from others…
“Life is Difficult” were the first words of Scott Peck’s…

May 19th, 2014

No, your friend did not go to hell.
The Catechism clearly states,
“We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives” (#2283).

We realize that those who take their own lives…

May 14th, 2014

Q: How do you overcome doubts? After attending college again, and being surrounded by atheists (with good arguments), how do you deal with doubts? I am a believer, and I still believe. This seems to be an isolating place to be.
Remember the father begging Jesus to heal the mute boy in Mark 9:24: “I do believe; help my unbelief!” Sometimes the line between unbelief…

May 13th, 2014

The sign of peace during the communion rite both recalls Jesus’ injunction to make peace with our brother or sister before bringing our gifts to the Lord (Matthew 5:23-24) and also our prayer for Christ’s peace and unity (Communion Rite, Roman Missal Third Edition). Sometimes the sign of peace celebrates forgiveness given and received; sometimes it expresses…

May 12th, 2014

I hear this question rather frequently from college students. I gently reply, first, in the Catholic church, we don’t “take,” we “receive,” communion. By receiving communion we are signaling, i.e., sign-ing (Sacraments are “signs”), that we are trying to live our lives according to the teachings of the Catholic faith. Communion is not the…

May 6th, 2014

My sincere condolences to your sister and all your family. Losing a child before birth brings a unique kind of grief, and both medical professionals and well-meaning family and friends may struggle to fully understand the loss and respond appropriately.
One thing you can do is ask your parish to have a funeral Mass or memorial service said for your sister’s…

April 29th, 2014

Q: Sometimes I cannot keep an erection long enough for my wife to climax. Is it a sin if I manually or orally complete her climax? Is it a sin if my wife manually or orally completes my climax? The older I get (I am 71) the more often this happens. I love my wife and could not see a day I would not like to try to make love to her.
Not every single sexual act, per se, need be procreative,…

April 23rd, 2014

We usually talk about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost, the feast we celebrate 50 days after Easter when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. These spiritual gifts are given to us by God and are intended to guide the way we live…

April 22nd, 2014

Q: Judith Jarvis Thomson wrote what may be the most famous paper in bioethics, “A Moral Defense of Abortion.” She compares abortion to unplugging someone from life support in her famous “unplugging the violinist” analogy. Since there is a difference between killing and letting die, her argument seems to only apply to eviction-based abortions. Is…

April 19th, 2014

The ceremony you saw was one of the rites associated with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). This is a process of catechetical and spiritual preparation, following the practices of the early Church, for adults who wish to become Catholic. Various rites mark the stages of the journey, from the time when a person declares his or her desire to enter…

April 18th, 2014

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…

April 17th, 2014

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…

April 15th, 2014

Consider that according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
“To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth” (2483).
A classic thought experiment is that of a person concealing a Jew during the Holocaust. If the Gestapo knock on the door and ask if there are any Jews in the home, do they have…

March 27th, 2014

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 25th, 2014

One principle that flows from Catholic teaching on sexuality is that a couple’s physical intimacy should never exceed their emotional and spiritual intimacy. Until two people commit their full selves to each other in marriage, they have not given their hearts and souls to each other in a way that allows them to fully give their bodies to each other. Without…

March 21st, 2014

Catholics abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent not because of some rule in the Bible, but because of a tradition begun in the early church. Various books of the Bible encourage the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
It wasn’t long until Church leaders began encouraging abstinence from meat on certain days…

March 17th, 2014

Prior to the arrival of Christianity in the 5th century, the Irish followed Celtic religious practices that had been in place for thousands of years. Like indigenous religious traditions in many parts of the world, they were focused on the forces of nature. Rituals sought to placate gods who could unleash nature’s destructive forces or ensure favorable…

March 11th, 2014

Q: 24 years ago I had artificial insemination with my husband’s sperm to get pregnant because I had “hostile cervix.” In Catholic teaching this was wrong, but how do I ask for forgiveness for this when the result was my beautiful daughter? What am I asking forgiveness for, the act or the results? I can’t in my mind figure out how to ask God to forgive this…

March 7th, 2014

There aren’t any specific scriptural passages about miscarried children, or even about the fate of infants who die before they are baptized. You may have heard of the hypothesis of “limbo” which developed a few hundred years after the life of Jesus. At that time, theologians were debating what happens to children who die before they have committed any…

March 4th, 2014

Q: Who makes the decision as to who can be the sponsors for a child making his confirmation? The rules are 1) church-goer in good standing 2) not divorced 3) Catholic. I don’t know anyone who qualifies for all three.
A sponsor for baptism or confirmation must be at least 16 years old and be a Catholic who has received confirmation and Eucharist and who “leads…

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