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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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April 10th, 2013

Jews value life over just about all things. The life of the mother is valued, as is the life of the fetus. That said, different rabbis follow different teachings on when life begins. The majority of rabbis (Orthodox through Reform) see the fetus as a potential life, whose (potential) life is valued but not yet as valued as the actual (full) life of the mother. So…

April 9th, 2013

Question: Where is the house of the Virgin Mary? Can I visit it?
Yes, you certainly can visit the House of the Virgin Mary! It is located in Turkey in the hills that dot the landscape between Seljuk and Ephesus. Scripture tells us that Jesus entrusted his mother Mary into the care of his disciple John (and, likewise, John was entrusted into her maternal care). Tradition…

April 8th, 2013

Question: I hate the gift my kid gave me for my birthday. Am I required to wear it if I accept it so as to not hurt his feelings?

Any parent who has painted macaroni ornaments hanging on the Christmas tree or a juice can covered in construction paper holding pencils on his or her desk at work knows that the value of a gift is in the love that the giver wishes to show to the

April 5th, 2013

Who exactly was Enoch? Only a few phrases are mentioned about him in the Bible, but the Apocryphal texts have entire volumes of Enoch.
Yes, there are only a grand total of 14 verses in the Bible that name Enoch. The verses are divided between those that refer to Enoch, the son of Cain (Gen 4:17-18), and a later Enoch who was the son of Jared and the father of Methuselah…

April 3rd, 2013

The Passover Seder is a celebration which can last for several hours, during which the Jewish people commemorate and re-live, as a family of faith, their liberation from slavery in Egypt under Pharaoh.
The most important moment of the Seder is the account of God’s liberation of his people from Egypt “with a strong hand and outstretched arm”…

April 2nd, 2013

Question: My dorm does not allow candles but I like to pray with a candle in front of my statue of Mary. Should I claim religious exemption?
Candles have a time-honored place as a symbol of prayer, especially in the Catholic tradition. In fact, at least two candles must be placed on the altar for the celebration of the Mass (General Instruction of the Roman Missal,

March 26th, 2013

Question: Why is it okay that we have Church Festivals where excessive drinking and gambling occur? I thought we believed those things were only okay in moderation.
Freedom is one of the main tenets of the Catholic faith. Just because booze and gaming tables are around doesn’t mean that you need to partake in them.
However, to your point, there should be…

March 25th, 2013

Question: I’m in a relationship with someone at work. Should we be open about this with co-workers? There are no prohibitions on dating in our company handbook.
Before you consider whether or not to tell your co-workers, first ask yourself if the relationship is appropriate. Does one of you report to or supervise the other? If one person has direct responsibility

March 22nd, 2013

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the image of bride and bridegroom was used to symbolize the relationship between God and the people of Israel. God called the Israelite people to faithfulness to his teachings and attested his eternal love for them. The image was later adopted in the New Testament where Jesus was envisioned as the bridegroom sent by God. His task was…

March 21st, 2013

Question: Everyone is saying the pope picked Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. Is it possible he picked it after St. Francis Xavier who was a Jesuit?
Pope Francis recently addressed this himself:
I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy,…

March 18th, 2013

Question: I accidentally walked into a co-ed bathroom and found my receptionist somewhat disrobed. Should I report this to our boss to be sure there are no misunderstandings?

Your receptionist probably uttered a startled yelp and you probably blurted an embarrassed apology as you quickly backed out with your head down. If it was truly accidental and brief,

March 15th, 2013

Heaven is the common religious term generally referring to a “place,” where God or divine beings are thought to originate from and dwell. Also, many humans imagine ascending to heaven at their deaths, depending on their goodness and God’s grace. Ancient peoples have passed on the mythology of heaven being a place above this created world, with its opposite,…

March 14th, 2013

Catholic moral teaching on sexual intimacy is clear — it is meant to unite a man and woman in married love and open them to the gift of a child. Sexuality is a wonderful gift that helps a husband and wife to express their love for one another in many ways, sometimes playfully, sometimes tenderly, sometimes passionately. It does not reduce to sexual intercourse,…

March 12th, 2013

This quote is attributed to St. Francis: “Speak the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”
Our example as Catholics is to what most people will pay attention. Conversely, we discredit our religion each time we are hypocritical, when we are unkind, treat people unfairly, or act out of character in ways that are not consistent with our faith.…

March 11th, 2013

Question: My atheist brother refuses to come to my church wedding. I don’t want to create a scene, but should I invite him to the reception even though he has insulted me?
Although emotions always run high in wedding preparations, a wedding invitation is really just that: an invitation to your wedding. You are asking a person who is important to you to accompany

March 8th, 2013

Question: In John 6: 1-14, did Jesus really feed 5,000 people (or a crowd about that size) with five loaves of bread and two fish? Who was counting? What’s the truth in this passage?

Raymond Brown, a well-known and highly esteemed Catholic scripture scholar was once asked this very question. He responded “I find no reason to dismiss the miraculous from the

March 6th, 2013

In first century Palestine where Jesus was living, tax collectors were individuals who worked for Roman administrators. They were responsible for collecting taxes to support the Roman Empire, which governed Jesus’ homeland. (Think of the IRS in our day.) Some of the taxes levied on the Jewish people might have been oppressive in themselves, but sometimes…

March 4th, 2013

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church asserts, “life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good” (2288).
For Catholics, gratitude for life and a desire to treasure it should shape decisions about medical treatment. But any person facing…

March 1st, 2013

The gospels don’t publish the specific menus offered at any of Jesus’ meals, except for giving multiple references to him eating bread, very commonly imbibing wine, and a couple of times eating fish. Many people think it is improbable that Jesus was a vegetarian given the fact that he was an observant Jew of his time. Jewish dietary laws (a.k.a. kosher food…

February 27th, 2013

Question: Why is Paul always in prison? Did people write letters responding to the ones he sent to them from prison?

The New Testament tells us that Paul spent some time in prison, although we can’t be certain of how many times Paul was imprisoned, where, or for how long each sentence lasted. According to The Acts of the Apostles, Paul remained under house arrest

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