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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
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
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

December 3rd, 2009

I teach religion in a secular college and have been asked to teach a course on Catholicism.  I’m obviously somewhat limited here so what should I cover over the course of the semester? …

Catholicism itself could cover hundreds of courses.  But, that being said, I understand that a secular setting might not be the most appropriate place to discuss doctrine. 

December 2nd, 2009

The tabernacle is the chamber where leftover Eucharist is reserved for the sick or dying or to be used at a later mass.
If the consecrated body and/or blood of Christ is present inside there is a lit candle above or beside it. Most Catholic churches and some Episcopalian/Anglican churches observe this. Catholics genuflect before the tabernacle as a sign of reverence.  …

December 1st, 2009

The letters refer to the different “orders” that the priest or sister belong to.   For example:
Fr James Martin, S.J. :   S.J. stands for Society of Jesus which is the formal name for the Jesuits.  So Fr Jim would be a Jesuit priest.
Fr David Dwyer, C.S.P.:  C.S.P. stands for Community of St Paul which is the formal name for the Paulists.  …

November 30th, 2009

As a mom myself, I’d love to know the answer to this one.  To me, it seems logical that the woman who gave birth to him should be the first one to see him after the Resurrection.    That said, God’s ways are not our ways; there was clearly some reason why other people got to see him first.  Short of asking Jesus himself, we can only speculate …perhaps he chose…

November 27th, 2009

What’s the deal with the book of Revelation?  It seems kinda demonic
more than something from God to me.
The Book of Revelation is one of the most misunderstood and abused books
of the Bible. It is easily misunderstood because it is filled with
symbolism whose meaning is often lost on today’s audience. It is abused
because some people take advantage…

November 26th, 2009

The two most popular Catholic prayers that surround food traditions are the simple “Grace Before Meals” and “Grace After Meals.”
One need not pray these prayers on Thanksgiving if you are Catholic, prayers from your own words are, of course, fine.
However, if you are looking for more structure in your prayer these two simple ones…

November 25th, 2009

Question: I was just wondering why does there seem to be a definite split between different religious orders (Franciscan, Jesuit, Benedictine, ect)?  I know that each was founded by different people of faith with different emphasizes.  I guess my question is why does there seem to be some negativeness between certain orders?  Is there a negative…

November 24th, 2009

Question: Should I avoid dating if I think I may want to be a priest?…
No.  Future priests have to develop as healthy, well-adjusted psycho-sexual persons in order to embrace the demands and discipline of celibacy (or marriage if the church ever calls married men to the priesthood–or for those in the newfound Anglican rite.).  Dating as a teen and young

November 23rd, 2009

Quesion:  How did Mary know that Jesus was God and could perform a miracle at Cana?

During the Annunciation, the angel tells Mary that her son will be the “Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32).   From the beginning, then, Mary knew that her son was destined for greatness.  At the wedding at Cana, she brings a problem to him and is confident that he’ll be able

November 20th, 2009

Question:  Are all of St. Paul’s letters really written by him?  Someone told me that some may have been speeches or other people’s materials?…
Today, if someone writes a piece of literature and attributes it to
someone else, that’s considered a fraud. In biblical, times, however, it
was both common and acceptable to write something

November 19th, 2009

Christianity emerged from Judaism, which itself rejected figurative religious art as being too much like idol worship (see Ex 20:3).  But once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine in the 4th century CE, it was not long before Roman practices of portraying and honoring the divine (their gods and emperors) would…

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