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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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November 14th, 2013

Question: When one of your friend’s, who does not attend church on a regular basis, states that he feels he is being called by God, what do you say?
Why say anything? Just say a prayer and ask God to guide the person. God is running things. We don’t have to be overseeing the movements of God’s grace. The Holy Spirit blows where the Spirit will. God moves in…

November 13th, 2013

All of us who watch a loved one struggle with mental illness are confronted with the brutal suffering it creates, and your question brings to light one of its peculiar cruelties: the disease itself can make the sufferer push treatment out of reach. How should loved ones react? Can you force your brother to take his medication?
The reality is, you can’t. That’s…

November 12th, 2013

Question: I have family members who are very into the Latin form of the Mass. These family members, every time they get a chance, try to shove their beliefs on my husband and I. They try to show us how the Novus Ordo form of Mass is wrong and not legitimate and that we shouldn’t still be a part of it. My question is, do you have any suggestions as to how to just make…

November 11th, 2013

Q: Swearing is a part of everyday life for many people. How wrong is swearing in the eyes of the Church?
If you read through all the moral instruction in the bible, you’ll never find anything like, “Thou shalt not say #%$&.” Why? Because language changes over the centuries and across cultures. Words considered deeply offensive in one time and place…

November 8th, 2013

God loves us because God IS love — infinite and perfect love, greater than any love that we can imagine. Our human ability to love is finite and limited, and thus we have a tendency to put limitations on love itself. We think it makes sense to “earn” someone’s love or look for the reasons why another person loves us. But for God there is no earning of love…

November 7th, 2013

Q: Soldiers in war are technically killing other sons and daughters of God in an effort to protect our country. Will this affect their fate on Judgment Day? Is it wrong to thank them upon their return home even though they’ve sinned?…
Never hesitate to thank a returning soldier for his or her service to our country. (Thank you, veterans!) Military service cannot

October 28th, 2013

It seems unlikely that the Church will add any new sacraments. Seven is a highly symbolic number now buoyed by centuries of tradition. And any new ritual would have to be of a truly universal character, in response to an emergent need of the global Church, not merely of a particular group or region. But this does not mean that the Church does not continue to respond…

October 25th, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is one of the winning questions asked by our readers during Busted Halo Summer School.
Q: Scientists are constantly trying to “prove” the existence of ghosts or departed spirits. What is the Catholic teaching on the presence of ghosts or spirits?…
Catholics believe that death is not the end of human existence. While our present,

October 21st, 2013

Q: How have the seven sacraments changed over time? Did they all start at the same time or were they added at different times of our history?
In ancient times the Latin word “sacramentum” referred to the Roman soldier’s sacred oath to the empire; after taking the oath he was branded with the insignia of his regiment and belonged to the empire until his death.…

October 15th, 2013

Q: In simple terms, when God made the covenant with Noah, he said he would not destroy everything he created, including animals, birds, etc., by flood again and gave us the signature of this covenant with a rainbow. The deaths due to floods today, is that just an act of nature and not God?
This is a question that commonly arises after natural calamities such as floods,…

October 14th, 2013

One way to your question is “yes.” Yes, it is better to pray to God the Father and yes, it is better to pray to Jesus. In fact, it is impossible to do one without the other. Because of Jesus’ complete identification with God the Father – especially developed in the gospel of John – we know that the Father and the Son are one. Together the Father, Son and Spirit…

October 7th, 2013

Since biblical times, God’s name has been understood as a symbol of God’s very self. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
“A name expresses a person’s essence and identity and the meaning of this person’s life. … To disclose one’s name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable…

September 30th, 2013

Q: What if someone asked you if you would be his/her child’s godparent but you don’t feel as if you are either ready or you don’t want to take on that responsibility? What do you say or how should you go about it?
First of all, I commend you for taking the invitation seriously enough to discern your answer, rather than just saying yes out of obligation. A godparent…

September 27th, 2013

The verse in question here is the only verse in the New Testament that appears to suggest that Jesus had something “inscribed” on his body. However, such a suggestion is in direct contradiction of a law in Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you.” Not only would the idea of a Jewish man having a…

September 24th, 2013

Maybe it would help to ponder the famous saying of St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel always. Sometimes use words.”
We religious people can sometimes fall into the temptation of running ahead of the grace of God. Try and remember that God is involved in all this. It’s understandable that you want your husband to find the peace and power, the joy and justice,…

September 20th, 2013

Unknown to many Christians are several ideas, legends, and lore in the Jewish tradition concerning the story in Genesis 22. Christians often refer to this story as “the sacrifice of Isaac,” while Jews generally call it “the binding of Isaac” in order to emphasize that Isaac was not ultimately sacrificed.
Still, other lesser-known alternative endings…

September 20th, 2013

Question: I was 18 when I married my first husband. The local priest would not let us have the ceremony in the church because I was pregnant. He performed it in the rectory. Is it a Church rule that you cannot marry in the church building if you are pregnant?…
It is not. I’m going to assume that the wedding was also small and intimate. Your priest was most likely

September 17th, 2013

Questions: If God doesn’t live in heaven, where does God live? Maybe better formulated is, When does God live? In the past, the present, or the future?…
God is everywhere and every when. The great adventure of life is allowing grace to form us into persons who can be united with God forever. Pope Benedict XVI teaches in his magisterial Introduction to Christianity

September 16th, 2013

Q: Are angels actually able to intervene in human matters, i.e. warn us of impending danger?
Our English word “angel” is derived from the Greek word “angelos,” meaning “messenger.” According to Church tradition, angels are created beings who are servants and messengers of God. Like human beings, they have intelligence and free will. Unlike…

September 13th, 2013

Question: I’m an adult reading the Bible for the first time. The Old Testament contains a lot of violence, including the deaths of women and children in large numbers. How do I come to terms with this violence as opposed to the loving, fatherly God most people identify with?

Answer: Unfortunately, the Old Testament (and parts of the New Testament as well),

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