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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
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
February 8th, 2010

The English major in me says that there are Marian themes in anything, if you look hard enough.  All joking aside, your question is a fascinating one. The first connection that came to my mind is the very name “Snow White,” with its connotations of innocence and purity. This has an obvious similarity to the Catholic beliefs that Mary was 1) conceived…

February 5th, 2010

In some non-Catholic Christian churches, it is not unusual to hear the preacher talk about the Scripture passage that he or she has chosen to proclaim and to preach on. In the Catholic Church, as well as in a number of Protestant denominations with a liturgical tradition, the selection of Scripture readings is not left to the whim of the individual pastor. Rather,…

February 1st, 2010

Question:  How can Mary be the Mother of God, if God is eternal?  Wouldn’t that mean she existed before God?…
It’s a great question, and one that was addressed definitively at the Council of Ephesus in 431.  Before we go there, though, it’s good to clarify what Catholics (and in fact most Christians) believe about God and the Trinity.

January 29th, 2010

Many books of the Bible existed and were transmitted orally before they were eventually recorded in writing. This may seem strange to us today, however, in a society in which most people were illiterate, as in biblical times, the oral tradition was heavily relied upon.
One of the techniques that was used to help people remember long passages is evidenced in the…

January 27th, 2010

with Fr. Rick Malloy, S.J. and Mike Hayes

Of the many explanations offered in the wake of natural disasters such as the recent one in Haiti, surely one of the most troubling was televangelist Pat Robertson’s claim that the Haitian people made a pact with the devil to rid them of their French occupiers in the 19th century and thereby incurred God’s

January 27th, 2010

In the United States thee are three formal regional dialogues between Catholics and Muslims: the West coast; the Midwest; and the Mid-Atlantic. Each dialogue is focusing on a different topic. In 2005, for example, the Midwest dialogue published a little book on Revelation: Catholic and Muslim Perspectives. …The Mid-Atlantic dialogue has been working the

January 26th, 2010

The theologian Bernard Lonergan argues the innate operations of our being human, i.e., our experiencing, understanding, judging, deciding and loving, contain inherent transcendental precepts or norms.  We should be attentive, intelligent reasonable, responsible and loving in all we do and are.  To the degree that we are authentic, and live attentive,…

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…

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