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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 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A hermit is someone who has withdrawn to a solitary place for a life of religious seclusion.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…

July 28th, 2010

That depends on the denomination. The general rule in ecumenical circles is to let people define themselves. Thus, most Protestant denominations will consider each other as well as non-denominational congregations as “churches” in the broader sense of the word. We Catholics take our lead from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium)…

July 27th, 2010

There’s an old Latin phrase, de gustibus non disputatem est (“there’s no accounting for taste”). Personally, I think visiting Cathedrals is always interesting. From The National Shrine in Washington, DC, to the Western flavor of the Cathedral in Salt Lake City to the flow of humanity I’ve observed in Cathedrals from Philadelphia to Seattle, I always am amazed at the reality of the church on display in these buildings and human meeting spaces.

July 23rd, 2010

Jesus makes the analogy so that people will understand that God cares for us as a parent cares for a child. Some might say that he knew what He was doing when he opted for using “Father” as opposed to “Mother.”
God is genderless, but there is a great absence felt by those who do not have the love of a Father, especially men, who have lost or…

July 22nd, 2010

St. Mary Magdalene was a close follower of Jesus and a supporter of his ministry. The gospel of Luke mentions Mary Magdalene, “from whom seven devils had gone out,” in a list of women disciples who followed Jesus and assisted him out of their means (Luke 8:1-3). According to the gospels, she remained with Jesus at the foot of the cross and witnessed his burial.…

July 21st, 2010

Welcome home. That sounds like quite a spiritual adventure. The quick answer to your questions is that no, you do not need to get “re-baptized” to come home to your Catholic faith. Usually all that is required is a good general confession. Depending on how long you have been away, I would highly encourage you to engage in a slow deliberative process of re-acquainting…

July 20th, 2010

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are the methods of prayer and ways of relating to God that Ignatius of Loyola developed in the years after his conversion to Christ. Ignatius realized God loves us and wants to deal personally with each of us. One way to let God be God in our lives is to pull back from the hustle of daily life and go on retreat.
The full Exercises…

July 19th, 2010

A few thoughts come to mind with regards to your question (which, by the way, is a great one to address). First off, let’s reflect on what the Catholic Church teaches about Mary and prayer. Mary is not seen as the source of grace herself; that is reserved to God. The Church instead teaches that she’s a very powerful intercessor on our behalf. So it’s useful…

July 16th, 2010

Although the story of the sacrifice of Isaac is great inspiration about the faith of Abraham, it often leaves us feeling troubled about God! What kind of God would ask someone to sacrifice his own son?
In order for us to wrap our heads around this story, we need to do some time travel – oh, perhaps about 4000 years or so! The story of Abraham is among the oldest pieces…

July 15th, 2010

St. Bonaventure (1221-1274), bishop and doctor of the Church, was a medieval scholastic theologian and philosopher. According to legend, he became gravely ill as an infant and his mother took him to St. Francis to pray for his recovery. St. Francis had a vision of the child’s future greatness and exclaimed, “O buona ventura!” – O, good fortune! –…

July 13th, 2010

Call your local parish and get the number for the chancery (the main office of the Bishop of diocese). The folks at your local chancery will be happy to help you with this request.
Judy Grant, the ever capable and friendly parish administrator at St. Anthony’s Parish in Cody WY (where I’m based while I celebrate Masses in Yellowstone National Park in the summer),…

July 12th, 2010

My own life hasn’t involved nearly as much foreign travel as I’d like, so I can’t speak from extensive firsthand experience. But I have talked to lots of different women about Mary over the last several years, and it’s safe to say that there are indeed countries where Mary is a far more visible presence than she is in much of the U.S.
Why is this the case? It’s…

July 9th, 2010

The Book of Daniel is named after its main character or “hero,” a young Jewish man who is taken into exile to Babylon. The book is part of a literary genre known as “apocalyptic,” meaning that it deals with the topic of the “end times.” This type of literature was very popular in the centuries just before and after the birth of Jesus. In fact…

July 8th, 2010

Why is St. Paul called an apostle?  He wasn’t one of the twelve apostles that Jesus picked. 
The word “apostle” comes from the Greek “apostolein,” meaning “sent ones.” Although Jesus specially designated twelve of his followers in a symbolic restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Matthew 10:2-5, Mark 3:16-19, and Luke 6:13-16),…

July 7th, 2010

Simply put, no. In fact, it seems impossible. What we know from psychology about suicidal behavior is that the person is not in control of their own actions.
For a matter to be sinfully grave, one would need to willfully do that action. Therefore in the case of suicide, one isn’t sinning willfully.
It’s important to note that at one time the church…

July 5th, 2010

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II survived an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square. May 13 is the anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three peasant children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. The Pope later attributed his survival to Our Lady of Fatima. The experience increased his already very strong devotion to Mary.
Even the enthusiastic endorsement…

July 2nd, 2010

In short, the Jesus Seminar is a twice-a-year gathering of 70-plus scholars who vote on what they consider to be the historical accuracy of the Gospels. The Jesus Seminar was founded by Robert Funk, a Protestant Theologian, in 1985. The overriding goal of the Seminar, co-chaired by John Dominic Crossan, is to “un-earth” the voice of historical Jesus which…

June 30th, 2010

There is no requirement that Jewish converts continue to celebrate Jewish liturgical feasts once they have been baptized. Most Jewish converts I know do not. It’s not that such things are forbidden , strictly speaking; it’s just that many do not feel the need given the new context in which they are living. It’s not so much a rejection of their past as it is…

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