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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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August 26th, 2010

The cycle of funerary texts called “Bardo Thodol” is often casually known in the west as the “Tibetan Book of the Dead.” A more accurate translation of the title might be something like “Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State,” from “thodol,” meaning liberation, and “bardo,” meaning liminality. According to Tibetan…

August 25th, 2010

In every culture and religion, a prospective wedding is always a big deal. It’s a time to celebrate the engaged couple and introduce family members to each other, perhaps for the first time. Hindu engagement ceremonies are no different.
Depending on which Hindu community you are from, the engagement ceremony is known as mangni, aashirwad, or misri. Usually…

August 24th, 2010

1. Read the reading beforehand. Read it again. And again. Ask the priest or someone how to pronounce a word of which you are unsure. Read notes about the readings. Get a sense of what you are proclaiming.
2. Realize you are proclaiming the Word. Be expressive (but not histrionic). Don’t rush. But don’t be so slow that people think you cannot read easily.
3. Keep…

August 20th, 2010

In Proverbs 1:20-33, we encounter a female character named Wisdom. She is walking through the streets, crying out in a loud voice for people to follow her. Who is this mysterious figure? Some have come to think of Lady Wisdom as a being, a deity in her own right. Others have come to equate her with the feminine side of God or the Holy Spirit. A closer look at Scripture…

August 19th, 2010

St. Francis of Assisi was known to have a love of the natural world and of creation; countless legends are told about him that attest to his special relationship with animals. He is said to have used live animals in popularizing the nativity scene and to have spent time preaching to the birds, who he called his sisters. In one famous story, he tamed a wolf that had…

August 18th, 2010

If you’ve seen the movie The Rookie, with Dennis Quaid you might know this answer.
St. Rita has recently been touted as an unofficial patron saint of the sport because of the references made to her in this movie where Quaid plays Jimmy Morris, an actual ballplayer, who makes an unbelievable comeback to become a major league ballplayer. While coaching St.…

August 17th, 2010

The priest’s stole is worn around the neck, like a yoke. The deacon’s stole is slung across one shoulder and the opposite hip. The stole is a “sign” or “badge” of office. The liturgical vestments (alb, stoles, chasubles) indicate the positions of service to the community provided by bishops, priests and deacons.
Many cultural realities have something…

August 16th, 2010

A Marian apparition is a supernatural appearance of Mary to a person (or group of people) on earth. Since the early centuries of the Church, there have been thousands of reported Marian apparitions. “Reported” is a key word here; just because someone says that they saw Mary doesn’t mean that they really did. The Church, under the guidance of the bishop…

August 13th, 2010

Every so often, a headline appears online or in newspapers about a research team that believes they have discovered evidence of Noah’s ark. Could it be that the ark that is described in the Book of Genesis factually existed? It’s possible. However, whether or not the story of Noah’s Ark is factual, Catholics embrace the story as true. That’s…

August 12th, 2010

The word “fatwa” comes from the Arabic root “fata,” meaning newness, clarification or explanation. It refers to a scholarly opinion or ruling on matters of Islamic law, known as Sharia. The scholar who issues the fatwa, known as a “mufti,” draws on his own wisdom and knowledge of Islamic sources to interpret Sharia and address questions not specifically…

August 11th, 2010

The strange answer to this question is Clare of Assisi. Why is is strange? Well, there was no TV in Clare’s time for one and two, Clare was in a secluded community of women’s religious modeled after St. Francis’ teachings. In fact, Clare and Francis were quite close and she cared for Francis at the end of his life when he was ill. So the patron saint…

August 10th, 2010

Question:… How do I get a Catholic hospital chaplain to visit my father in the hospital?  With the Hippa laws, they don’t send them over anymore.
Very easy. Every hospital I have ever been in has a pastoral care dept. or chaplains’ office. Ask your nurse for the number. Call them and tell them you would like your father to be visited by the priest or Eucharistic

August 9th, 2010

In the time of Jesus, a widow who had no close male relative to look after her faced a precarious existence. By entrusting Mary to the “beloved disciple” (commonly understood to be John), Jesus was showing love and concern for his mother, ensuring that she would be safe and cared for after his death.
Additionally, the Catholic Church has always seen this as…

August 6th, 2010

The Transfiguration is a Gospel event from the life of Jesus that is reported in three of the four gospels (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36). Jesus went up a mountain with his disciples that overlooks Jerusalem and is seen with Elijah and Moses while he “transfigures”, meaning that the disciples see Jesus as He would appear after the resurrection.…

August 5th, 2010

The desert fathers (and mothers!) were the pioneers of monastic life in the Church. Beginning in the third century, some Christians began to flee the comforts and conflicts of pagan cities to seek a life of asceticism in the desert. They sought a simpler life, in imitation of Christ during his forty days in the wilderness, and dedicated themselves to solitude,…

August 4th, 2010

Indeed we have. From 1978 until 2001, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention held a series of very candid theological conversations. The official dialogue produced two reports.
The first, “To Understand Each Other,” produced in 1989, covered a variety of topics including Sacred Scripture, salvation,…

August 3rd, 2010

First, ask yourself who died and left you in charge of making such judgments of taste? Remember the old Latin phrase, “de gustibus non disputatem est” (there’s no accounting for taste). I would bet $100 that what you “don’t like” someone else in the congregation “does like.”
A story: One lady got mad at me once because I didn’t urge…

August 2nd, 2010

I don’t know about “hidden” symbols specifically, but there are many traditional symbols for the Mother of God. These include a heart pierced by a sword or swords (echoing the words of Simeon in Luke 2: 34-35) and the mirror, a symbol of her sinlessness. Mary has sometimes been represented by the image of an enclosed garden, symbolizing her purity (this…

July 30th, 2010

Today there are many resources available for Catholics to delve more deeply into the Word of God online. A good place to begin is simply by linking to the New American Bible online, provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here you can read the translation that Catholics hear at Mass in the United States while accessing all of the footnotes…

July 29th, 2010

What are hermits?  And do they have anything to do with Catholicism?
A hermit is someone who has withdrawn to a solitary place for a life of religious seclusion. The word comes from the Greek “eremos,” meaning desert – hence a hermit is a person who lives in the desert. The idea of pursuing a reclusive lifestyle for religious reasons exists in many spiritual…

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