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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 11th, 2009

Question: Should we use every means medically possible to keep an ill person alive? What is the Catholic teaching on this question?…
I reviewed some of the general principles that Catholics apply to the question of using medical technology to sustain or prolong a person’s life. Such questions are in the realm of the discipline of bioethics, which explores

November 10th, 2009

How can I prove to my atheist professor that God exists?…
Kill’em (Just Kidding!).  Short of your professor being convinced by the arguments of brilliant minds like St. Thomas Aquinas or Bernard Lonergan, S.J., there is little we can do.  (Personally I love the argument from contingent being [that which can not exist].  Such being must be kept in existence

November 9th, 2009

Why did Jesus disobey his mother and leave her only to be found in the temple?  I thought Jesus didn’t sin and disobedience to one’s parents seems sinful to me!

When discussing Bible stories, it’s always good to carefully re-read the text in question.  Fact is, the story doesn’t say for sure that Jesus was… being disobedient.  Luke 2: 43-45 says that

November 6th, 2009

Question:  If God made a covenant with Noah about the flood then why do we have floods and tsunamis, etc today?…
It’s important to remember that the story of Noah and the flood is a
story of deliverance, not a story that explains weather conditions. In
this story, God intends to purge the earth of sinfulness and deliver a
just man and his family from the

November 4th, 2009

Editor’s Note:  For an answer this week, BustedHalo® turns to America Magazine and Fr. James Martin for his take on Anglicans and Catholics: …

November 3rd, 2009

Question:  If there is a God then why is there suffering in the world?


I often preach that there are only two things of which I am absolutely sure: one, God loves us and, two, humans suffer.  No one has ever disagreed with the second assertion.

This question of evil, known in theological circles as the theodicy question (impress your theology major friends throwing

October 28th, 2009

Question: Some of my Pentecostal friends believe that speaking in tongues is a sign that you are “saved.” Does the Catholic Church have an official stance on speaking in tongues?
I don’t believe that the Catholic Church has an official stance on speaking in tongues. In recent years its approach to this phenomenon seems to have been one of…

October 26th, 2009

Does the nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” refer to the Virgin Mary?

In his book Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme…, Chris Roberts offers three possible interpretations for this English rhyme.

The first interpretation is the one you mention: Mary is the Virgin Mary, the “pretty maids all in a row” are nuns, and

October 23rd, 2009

Since you’ve only known this girl a few months I would be very cautious about jumping into marriage too quickly. It’s the number one reason that annulments and divorces happen. Let’s put that out there first of all.
I think you need to explore the reasons as to why you have cold feet. It also sounds to me like perhaps people are pressuring you…

October 21st, 2009

Certainly God knows when we are sorry for our sins. And since God’s only relationship with us is one of unconditional love, whenever we turn to God with a sincere sorrow for sin and a desire to make a new beginning, God is there to meet us with forgiveness.
As human beings, however, we may need a more concrete way of experiencing God’s love for us. A person…

October 20th, 2009

Is getting drunk a mortal sin?…

I stopped drinking Jan. 1, 1979.  My personal history in college and some family dynamics made me wonder about my drinking.  Quitting drinking is one of the healthiest and sanest things I’ve ever done.  So I know what it is to drink, and I know what it is to live without alcohol.

If you are asking the question, be concerned.  Most

October 19th, 2009

What is the miraculous medal?

You may have seen Catholics wearing a small silver medal depicting Mary.  She stands on a globe, with a serpent (Satan) under her feet.  Around her is the prayer, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

In 1830, Mary appeared to Catherine Labouré, a young French nun.  On her second visit, Mary…

October 15th, 2009

Here are several ways in which the two religions differ:

Incarnation: The big difference is what Christian theology calls “the Incarnation”, or the “enfleshment” of God as one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Trinity:Closely related to this is the revelation of God as a community of relations—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If one looks at

October 14th, 2009

While your self-sufficiency and resourcefulness are admirable, starting your own porn site is problematic, even with limits.  Before your body was yours, it was God’s creation.
Putting yourself out there in sexually suggestive ways compromises your inherent human dignity and dishonors the good intent behind sex.  Moreover, you pose a temptation…

October 12th, 2009

Question: How did the Rosary become associated with Mary?…

Since the early days of the Church, Christians have used knotted cords or prayer beads to help keep track of their prayers.  The rosary as we know it today evolved in the Middle Ages, when the “Hail Mary” prayer became widely known.  The term “rosary” comes from “rosarium,” or a bouquet

October 10th, 2009

I think I can explain what was happening here.
In Catholic belief and practice, baptism is a ‘once for all time’ sacrament. You only get it once and it is effective forever. No one can ever change that you are a Christian and a member of the Body of Christ once it is done. That’s why we don’t rebaptize people from other Christian denominations…

October 9th, 2009

Question:  Who is the disciple that Jesus loved?  A nun told me that it was John but then a scripture professor told me something else about it being all of us.

If I could provide the definitive answer about the identity of the “beloved disciple” and publish it in a book, I could probably retire tomorrow on the royalties. Unfortunately, we don’t really…

October 8th, 2009

This is weird but is Satanism or devil worship a religion?  Or is it just some kind of weird cult?…
“Satanism” is a term that refers to a number of related beliefs and social phenomena. Their commonality is that they all feature the veneration or admiration of  Satan or similar figures.
The notion of Satan arose in Jewish scripture. For example, in the Book

October 7th, 2009

Question: Can you tell me a bit about “Santa Ria”?  What are its origins and does it have anything to do with the Catholic church?

Santería, also known as Lukumi…, is an Afro-Caribbean syncretic religion, meaning that it combines multiple different forms of belief or practice. “Santería” itself means “way of the saints,” and it mingles

October 6th, 2009

What is the deal with the Vatican now saying that there is no Limbo? Isn’t this a change in doctrine?…
The issue is more about the relationship of baptism and salvation, than it is about limbo.  The teaching on limbo didn’t change so much as the teaching on salvation without baptism changed.  At Vatican II the church shifted gears and taught: “Those

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