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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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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

December 16th, 2009

Yes.  A cross is simply the “t-shaped” instrument that was used for crucifixion which now, bears more of a symbol of triumph for Christians.  A crucifix however, is any image of that same cross with Jesus’ body (known as the corpus) depicted on it.
Catholics are free to wear either and to have either on display in their churches although

December 14th, 2009

The answer to this lies in the Jewish marriage customs of the time.  During this period, there were two distinct parts to the marriage process.  The first was betrothal, which was a binding exchange of consent made in the presence of witnesses.  Betrothal could only be ended by death or by divorce.
Following the betrothal, the bride remained with her…

December 11th, 2009

What about the other Gospels that aren’t in our canon of scripture?
Why are they not considered valid?
Ultimately, it was the bishops – the leaders of the Church – who made
the final decision but this decision was not reached in some
smoke-filled back room. It was a decision that was based upon the
experience of early Christians – people…

December 10th, 2009

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates an appearance of the Virgin Mary at Tepayac, a hill northwest of Mexico City. For evidence we have both a story and a painting.
The story tells of an Indian convert to Christianity around 50 years of age. His Aztec name had been Cuauhtlatohuac, but at his baptism he was given the name Juan Diego. While walking in the hills…

December 9th, 2009

Images of Jesus, Mary, and the saints usually painted in a gesture of blessing meant as an aid to prayer and meditation, directing our minds and hearts to that holy person.  These are very popular in the Greek Orthodox Church especially.  Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words so here is a picture of an icon.…

December 8th, 2009

Did Mary Have Labor Pains?

There’s lots of debate around this one.   After the Fall, in Genesis 3:16, God tells Eve, “I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children.”    The Genesis author thus portrays labor pains as the consequence of original sin.
Catholics, however, believe that Mary was conceived without…

December 7th, 2009

Question:  Why does Mary visit her cousin Elizabeth?  It doesn’t make sense to me for a pregnant woman to take such a long journey.…

Any woman who has traveled while pregnant can tell you that it isn’t fun.  For Mary, the trip would have been  especially grueling: she traveled to a town eighty miles away, likely on a donkey, without the comfort of

December 7th, 2009

Over the centuries, there have been thousands of reported Marian apparitions.  Very few have been officially approved by the Church.  Even those that are approved (including Guadalupe and Lourdes) are considered “private revelation.”  In other words, they aren’t a necessary component of a Catholic faith.
That said, Marian apparitions have…

December 4th, 2009

How does a book get to be in the Canon of Scripture?  Who decides?
Well, if you’re looking to get a book into the Bible, you’re too late!
The Canon of the Bible was closed in the first century of the Church.
Who made the decisions?  In the first century after Christ, rabbis in
Palestine gathered to form the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old
Testament).…

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