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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
May 21st, 2010

Remember learning about different kinds of literary devices in English class? Well, one of these devices is known as personification, which is when an abstract concept is represented as a person or given human qualities. For example, we may talk about opportunity knocking or time standing still.
In Scripture, the virtue of wisdom is personified as a woman…

May 20th, 2010

The quick answer is that bread and wine during the Eucharist are not transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus of Nazareth, but the glorified reality of the risen Christ. The sacramental signs of bread and wine are substantially (trans-substantiation), by the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit, become Christ present to us and in us. As Catholics, we receive…

May 19th, 2010

Almost never. It is very rare that the death penalty is ever permissible in Catholic teaching. Only when grave danger is imminent and a society is unable to protect itself from a perpetrator can the use of the death penalty be applied as a moral justification.
What does this mean? It means that all other means of keeping a prisoner at bay have been exhausted or are…

May 18th, 2010

Ghosts are figments of novelists’ and Hollywood movie makers’ imaginations. Ghosts are the souls or spirits of the dead that somehow manifest themselves to the living. Despite popular stories (Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, etc.), no one has ever proven the existence of Ghosts. For decades, James Randi has offered a prize of $1,000,000 dollars to anyone…

May 17th, 2010

Imagine that dear friends of yours were getting married, and the beverages ran out shortly after the reception began. It wouldn’t ruin their marriage, certainly, but it would put a damper on the celebration. As a close friend, you’d probably offer to go to the store or do whatever you could to help. Even if a disappointing reception is not exactly a problem…

May 14th, 2010

Since Dan Brown published The Da Vinci Code, there has been a lot of attention focused on the apocryphal gospels – texts written around the same time as the 4 canonical Gospels that have not been included in the Bible. While Dan Brown created an entertainment phenomenon that has him laughing all the way to the bank, his facts are not straight. Unfortunately,…

May 12th, 2010

First of all, please accept my condolences on the death of your child.
Indeed, you can and should have a funeral for your child and any miscarried baby can have a Catholic funeral. Quite often hospitals and obstetricians give parents who don’t carry a child to term a hard time when they ask for the remains of their child. Catholic teaching professes that…

May 11th, 2010

Contact the proper authorities. Any parish, diocesan office or local police station can hear your suspicions, help you evaluate the evidence you do have, and take appropriate action. If the priest has several other allegations against him, even if you do not have proof, another person voicing suspicions will call attention to the matter. Still, make real…

May 7th, 2010

First of all, we know that the Bible contains enormous amounts of historical facts, many of which have been verified by historians and archaeologists. What we can say about the Bible is that it was not primarily concerned with facts. The human authors, guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, set forth to relate a story of faith that took place within a historical…

May 6th, 2010

The first thing I wonder on reading your question is why you feel the need to make such a distinction? Jesus commands, “Stop Judging that you may not be judged” (Mt 7:1). St. Ignatius counsels that the first question one should ask if one feels the need to correct another is if one is, in truth and love, the one to make the correction. Maybe the correction will…

May 5th, 2010

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “May fifth”) is a relatively minor Mexican holiday commemorating the Battle of Puebla of May 5, 1862, in which Mexican forces defeated an invading French army far superior in numbers and equipment. Mexico only temporarily halted the French invasion; French reinforcements soon conquered the capital and it was not until 1867…

May 4th, 2010

With the headlines blaring these days about priests who have been abusive to children, it’s important to note that we’re talking about a small percentage of priests who have abused children. Nonetheless, it’s a serious problem that we all hold some responsibility to keep at bay.
I would say that the first thing we should do is apologize on…

May 3rd, 2010

Many Christians are surprised to learn that the Qur’an contains numerous references to Mary. In fact, there is a sura (chapter) entitled “Maryam” (Arabic for Mary) — the only sura in the Qur’an that bears the name of a specific woman. This chapter includes a scene where Mary is told she will be the mother of Jesus. In this scene, just as in the Gospel of Luke, Mary questions how this birth could take place, given that she is a virgin: “‘How can I have a son,’ she said, ‘when no man has touched me, nor am I sinful?’” (Sura 19, verse 20)

Obviously, the Qur’an’s portrayal of Mary diverges from the Gospels in other key areas (among other things, Muslims believe that Mary’s son was a prophet, not God, as Christians believe). But it’s striking to see that the virginal conception of Jesus is a point of common ground between Christianity and Islam. In fact, the very positive portrayal of Mary in the Qur’an has been seen by some scholars as a potentially powerful bridge between Muslims and Christians. Whatever their differences, both faiths portray Mary as someone worthy of respect.

April 29th, 2010

After China became communist, as the government sought to limit foreign influences and unite people in Chinese institutions, it prohibited religious institutions with loyalties to foreign governments. Only government-recognized and approved religious groups could exist officially. Practicing religion was allowed; declaring allegiance to a foreign…

April 28th, 2010

This is the prayer that is offered by the priest during confession also known as the sacrament of reconciliation or penance.
After one confesses their sins, the priest might give some advice to them and then give them a penance–an act of making amends, usually a few prayers offered to God. They then ask them to say the formal prayer the act of contrition.…

April 27th, 2010

Question: Are Catholic Women Allowed to Dress Sexy? Someone once told me that it was being immodest to do so and that this was sinful behavior.
Answer: As in most things, the answer depends on the object of your intentions. Are you dressing sexy in the hope of attracting someone with whom you want to have sex that night? Is your clothing too revealing to the point…

April 23rd, 2010

It’s important to understand the Jewish dietary laws within the broader context of the covenant. For the people of Israel, the Law describes in everyday practical ways how to honor God and remain faithful to him, outlining the proper conduct that is expected of a faithful Jew. Thus, the Law was not seen as a burden, but as a guide to sustaining a relationship…

April 22nd, 2010

India is the world’s largest secular democracy, but it is also home to tremendous religious diversity, which sometimes plays out in devastating religious conflicts. Christians (the majority of whom are Catholic) make up little more than 2% of the population, and thus religious divisions involving Catholics have not been as prominent as tensions between…

April 21st, 2010

There are several thoughts that I’d like to share about this. The first being a simple one. You can talk to your pastor about how you might improve the “performance” aspect of the music at mass–which is what I think you are really referring to. Perhaps you are a good singer and can offer your own gifts and talents here.
The second thought…

April 20th, 2010

Well, you can.  The question is should you?  More importantly, what is God asking of you in this situation?  Mostly consider refraining from sex until after the wedding.  Even if you are now in a “committed relationship” you are still immersed in a culture whose first commandment is, “If it feels good, do it.”  Maybe the idea of “Wait! It will…

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