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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.

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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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January 25th, 2010

From canonical scriptures, we simply do not know what happens to St. Joseph after Jesus is found in the Temple at the age of 12.  Traditions exist intimating that Mary was a widow at the time of the public ministry of Jesus.  More important than knowing exactly when Joseph died is reflecting on what we do know about Joseph.  He was a worker, (“tekton” in Greek)…

January 25th, 2010

For many of us, the traditional blue-and-white statues of Mary can make it hard to believe that she was a real woman with a real personality.  However, the Gospels reveal that Mary was courageous, nurturing and resilient.
First of all, take the fact that she agreed to become the Mother of God.  At the time of the Annunciation, she was betrothed to Joseph…

January 22nd, 2010

People who speak more than one language know that, when translating a word or phrase, there is not always a one-to-one correspondence of words. Often, a word in one language can be translated several different ways in another language. In other words, when translating from one language to another, choices and decisions have to be made. When it comes to various…

January 21st, 2010

Hamartiology is simply put, the study of sin.  Hamartia is a Greek word meaning “missing the mark” and coupled with the word logia or “discourse,” we get the word for studying sin.
In general, Hamartiology is a division of systematic theology, so when you are looking for courses on Hamartiology you would probably find it in courses…

January 19th, 2010

Angels in the Outfield (1951) was written by Jesuit Richard Grady (pen name “Richard Conlin”) and the 1994 remake with Danny Glover is one of the best baseball movies ever (along with Sandlot and Field of Dreams…).  Grady’s story telling was a great way to get “religious” realities in front of the minds and hearts of people, and from there one can accompany

January 18th, 2010

This is definitely a lesser-known name for Mary, perhaps because, as you’ve indicated, it’s one that is very specific to Alaska. The title does not refer to an apparition (unlike the well-known titles Our Lady of Lourdes or of Fatima, say), but it does reflect the fact that Mary has been honored in the Aleutian Islands for quite some time.
Though the Catholic…

January 15th, 2010

I once had a disgruntled adult student complain that there is too much confusion today over various translations of the Bible. She angrily blurted out, “we should just go back to the original English manuscripts to see what Jesus really said!”  I’m sure it broke her heart when I explained to her that Jesus did not speak English!
The truth is, most of the…

January 14th, 2010

Christians do indeed see the New Testament as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and Jesus, per se, as the fulfillment of the Covenant. It is important to note that the Old Testament, in and of itself, presupposes a fulfillment that lies beyond its pages. In other words, the Old Testament is, by its very nature, incomplete or unfulfilled.

Fulfillment, however,…

January 12th, 2010

No! (LOL).  If I could explain it, it wouldn’t be what it is!  Seriously, “ontological change” is very meaningful in the context of St. Thomas Aquinas’ medieval theological synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology, a stunning intellectual achievement for both his time and, to some degree, ours.
But once we move out of the Thomistic…

January 11th, 2010

“Madonna” is an Italian term meaning “my lady.”   It has been used for Mary since late medieval times, and helps to emphasize the relationship between Mary and those who honor her (its French equivalent is “Notre Dame,” or “Our Lady.”)
The term is very familiar to art historians.  Traditionally, the name “Madonna” is used for…

January 8th, 2010

If this and other parables cause you to scratch your head and perhaps even squirm uncomfortably, then you have succeeded in recognizing the purpose of parables. They are not cute fairy tales but deep, rich, and challenging theological tools. Remember, Jesus was put to death because of his teaching and his parables make up a huge part of his curriculum!
When it…

January 7th, 2010

It’s always uncomfortable for people to give and get criticism.  But when offered and received from a place of charity, it can often be a good thing.
A priest friend of mine some time ago told me that he welcomes criticism, especially on the weeks that he knows he was feeling a bit “off” in his delivery or preparation.  In fact he also says…

January 5th, 2010

Funny you should ask.  I’ve been thinking of formally offering my services as a Chaplain to the Philly Police department now that I’m more settled in my new surroundings.  During the fifteen years I lived in Camden, NJ, I let police know they could ring the rectory door or phone anytime, especially after a stressful tour of duty.  There were a number of…

December 30th, 2009

This was the gathering of all the world’s Catholic bishops in the early 1960’s to renew the Catholic Church. It was called by Pope John XXIII who called its purpose aggiornamento which means “updating.”  John XXIII did not live to see the Council finish and Pope Paul VI presided over the conclusion of the council.…

December 29th, 2009

Is it a sin to treat my dog like a child?  He’s a good dog and I pamper him a bit, but people seem to be thinking that he’s like a baby for me because I am a childless person.…
It is not a sin (i.e., sin is “humanity’s rejection of God and opposition to him” CCC#386) to treat your dog or any other pet as a child, but I would challenge those tempted to do so

December 28th, 2009

Mary, Help of Christians is one of the numerous names by which Catholics have come to know and love Mary.  It refers specifically to the aid that Mary gives as intercessor, meaning one who prays with and for us to God.
The title of “Helper” has been applied to Mary at least as far back as the fourth century. Because of her closeness to Christ and her unique…

December 24th, 2009

Catholics differ from some Christian Churches which accept the Scripture as the only source of God’s revelation. Catholics have a strong belief in the truth of Scripture, but we also believe in tradition as a way in which God continues to reveal truth to us. Tradition can include beliefs, customs, prayers, and worship, the teaching of popes, bishops,…

December 23rd, 2009

There are many prayers to St. Joseph referring to him as “the dispenser of the treasures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” but I’ve been unable to trace the origins of this phrase.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus grew gradually over the Middle Ages but did not become a widespread Catholic devotion until the private revelations of St. Margaret…

December 18th, 2009

An interesting question that has more to do with art than religion!
The answer is that it really depends on the artist who made the crucifix.  Take a look at a number of different crucifixes…
Some have Jesus with his head bowed depicting his death.  The artist wants us to concentrate on a Jesus who died for us.  Another might show Jesus kind of pumped…

December 17th, 2009

Why do women no longer have to have their head covered while at mass?  And why do some still do it?…

There has long been a practice of women covering their heads in public, and especially in holy places, across religious traditions.  Paul makes note of it in 1 Cor 11:4-16.  Drawing upon this, as well as tradition and local custom, as in the Middle East, the 1917

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