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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
August 7th, 2013

It is always better to root for someone than to root against someone. What you really hope for is your team’s success, not the opponent’s failure, even though the latter is a necessary consequence of the former. (An even better attitude would be to hope that the best team may win, but for many sports fans that’s too much to ask.) In any case, your question applies to healthy, friendly competition on the playing field. In that realm, as you’re perched on the edge of your seat lauding or lamenting, it’s okay to wish that every play go your way. It would be a sin to cheat or sabotage the game to put your team at an advantage. But just cheering for the outcome you desire is fine. And when the game…

June 28th, 2013

Here’s what the apostle Paul said about that to the Corinthians:
“Although I know nothing of what the Lord has said (on this), I say: if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. … Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:12-14, 16)
Since Paul is the one bringing the Gospel to people for the first time, he likely is speaking here to/about…

June 27th, 2013

Mountains are mentioned more than 500 times in the Bible. While they have a significant symbolic value, mountains first and foremost were part of the physical landscape of biblical times. So, put your climbing gear in your pack, click the image below to make it bigger and let’s head out on a hike through the mountains of the Bible!

Click image to open or download the PDF.…
Also see the previous answer in the Busted Halo Question Box.

June 26th, 2013

Certainly. However, the question that remains is whether you are using your gifts and talents to the best of your abilities. We all have a vocation — a calling — to express ourselves for who God has gifted us to be. For some of us, that calling directly relates to the way we make a living. For others, it may not relate directly, but instead relates to how we spend our time in other ways. A father may see fatherhood as his central vocation and therefore spend less time courting business clients to spend more time with his family. Another may see providing justice as her/his central vocation and spend much of her/his time working to end inequality in the world.
God certainly, at minimum, cares that you do not work…

June 25th, 2013

Reincarnation is a concept embraced by Hinduism and Buddhism in which a person is born into a new body over and over again until the goal of liberation from the cycle of rebirth is reached. It goes hand in hand with a cyclical notion of time, in which the world constantly passes through cycles of creation, destruction and recreation. As ideas from these two Eastern traditions have become popularized in recent years, this notion has entered the Western imagination.
But for Christians, time is linear, moving in one direction towards the culmination of history in God. Jesus rose from the dead to make possible our new life with God; each of us is invited to share in the new life offered to us by Christ. We affirm this belief…

June 24th, 2013

Well, Catholics actually don’t worship Mary. They do pray… to Mary. Think about the times you’ve asked someone to pray for you because you were sick or in need. That’s why Catholics pray to Mary, believing she can bring their concerns to Jesus. Watch our “Mary in Two Minutes Video” for more information about the relationship between Catholics and the Virgin Mary.

June 23rd, 2013

Take a break from your studies today. We know that Summer School is hard work. Go to Mass and then watch this pep talk from Kid President.…

June 22nd, 2013

The world’s major religions share a common commitment to promoting peace and justice for all people. Many have humanitarian organizations that provide relief services to countries ravaged by war. For instance, in the Catholic Church, Catholic Relief Services and Caritas offer humanitarian aid all over the world, including Syria. Throughout history, the pope has served as an arbitrator between nations caught in conflict. Because there are Catholics of every race and on every continent and in every nation, the pope is able to be impartial in encouraging the disputing countries to arrive at a peaceful and equitable solution that promotes the human dignity of all parties involved.
from Caitlin Kennell Kim…

June 21st, 2013

While the Church doesn’t have an official teaching on this topic, it is the policy of Catholic Charities to place adoptive children with single adults. Criteria taken into account include a person’s physical and mental health, ability to provide a stable and loving home environment, personal references, and extensive background checks. Although a two-parent home is the ideal, the Church recognizes that single people can offer children in crisis the love, stability, and support they need to flourish. Single folks willing to raise an adoptive child deserve our respect, encouragement, and prayers! If you are single (or married) and interested in learning more about Catholic adoption, check out Catholic…

June 20th, 2013

Full question: What is a sign (from God)? What “signs” might appear to us today, and how is God still speaking?…
There are many events, supernatural or otherwise, that happen in the Bible, which can loosely be termed “signs from God.” Some appear in dreams, like the image of Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:11-22). Others happen during waking hours, as when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-15). Some, like those in the Gospel of John (One example — Jesus changing the water into wine at the wedding at Cana), are more often thought of as miracles, although the gospel writer used the term “signs.” What they all have in common is that they were unexpected

June 19th, 2013

This is a question that has befuddled people for centuries upon centuries. The Old Testament, in particular the Wisdom Books, try to tackle it. For example, Ecclesiastes addresses the question of why bad things happen to good people with: “Everything is the same for everybody: the same lot for the just and the wicked, for the good, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who offers sacrifice and the one who does not. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner; as it is for the one who takes an oath, so it is for the one who fears an oath. Among all the things that are done under the sun, this is the worst, that there is one lot for all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3).
The concept of divine retribution was well ingrained…

June 18th, 2013

The Catholic Church is pro-life, and this not only means “not killing” and “actively supporting” life, but it also means being open to new life as well. The Church therefore obviously wants to support the desire of married couples to be parents, but to do so in a way that is in line with God’s intention for how flourishing children come into the world. Thus all technologies that are designed to aid the mechanisms God has given us for procreation are perfectly acceptable, according to the Church. Women and men can take drugs or have surgeries to improve their fertility or their sexual capabilities, for instance.
However, the Church wants to push back against our culture’s understanding that children…

June 17th, 2013

For a long time there’s been a belief that with faith, one cannot doubt and that with doubt, one cannot have true faith. This is true if we let doubt fuel mistrust. However, if we use doubt to help us formulate questions about our search for truth, then we can begin to see doubt as a good thing. So, to answer the question directly, it depends on how you use doubt on your journey of faith. Imagine doubt as a travel agent offering you a trip to an uncharted island to learn and experience something new about your world. Some may find such a trip requires too much — too time consuming, too frustrating, too scary, too risky — and therefore dismiss the trip and use the agent’s offer as a reason to disengage. “It just…

June 16th, 2013

Take a break from your studies today and watch this video.
Go to Mass and then go have a little fun.…

June 15th, 2013

Is it ethical and/or moral to root for a team that employs an unethical and/or immoral person (e.g. Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles, Jerry Sandusky and Penn State)? Put another way, is it ethical to root for a team yet not support, agree with or condone one of its players?…
As Jesus makes clear in the parable of the weeds and the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43), good and evil mingle closely in our broken world. We are always wrestling with the mixture of good and evil in ourselves individually and in our human institutions and organizations. It might be impossible to find a team with no skeletons in its closet. On some level, to support any team or group is to support its own best version of itself, even if that is

June 14th, 2013

No. Catholics believe that heaven is not a place per se but rather a state of being that does not correspond to the limited scientific laws that we find here on earth. The life we share with God goes beyond stages of sickness and makes us all one again with God — where sickness can never have power over us again.
The Church teaches that “In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men. ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.’”
It sounds to me like perhaps there might be some fear that Mom may no longer remember who you are because…

June 13th, 2013

First of all, “not being Catholic” and being an “unbeliever” are by no means synonomous. All Christians, for example, who belong to denominations other than Catholic are “non-Catholic,” but they’re still believers in the same Christian Scriptures and creed. Similarly, members of other religions like Judaism or Islam or Hinduism also believe in God. So you could — and hopefully you do — have some friends who are Protestant Christians or Jews or Muslims. We now live in the same neighborhoods, go to the same schools, and it’s good that we become friends, learn about each other’s faith, and treat each other with respect.
Who, then, was Paul…

June 12th, 2013

After reading the intercessory prayer that Abraham makes on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18, it’s easy to see how one might think that prayer could change God’s mind. However, the question of whether prayer does change God’s mind first requires a closer look at what prayer actually is.
Church teaching looks at prayer through three lenses:

First, prayer is a gift from God and we need humility to use it properly. Humility helps us defend against pride and selfishness — things that can cause us to view God as a magic genie rather than Our Heavenly Father.
Second, prayer expresses our covenant relationship with God, affirmed by our heart’s true participation when praying.…

June 11th, 2013

When we look at the two stories of creation in Genesis (yes, there are two…… look them up), we read not a literal story but a mythological one, in the best sense of that term. The point of the story is that God cares for creation and human beings have a primary place as a special creation of God.
Science holds that there is the possibility of life on other planets. Mathematically speaking, it is quite possible that life may exist elsewhere in other galaxies.
The Church would take a humble position before God in stating that we do not know all things. Only God knows the origins and the hidden secrets of the universe. Therefore, should we discover life on other planets, we would believe that God was the creator of those

June 10th, 2013

The Catholic tradition and many other Christian denominations stand united on Ephesians 4:4-6, which says: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” So, once baptism (water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) happens, it’s a once-and-for-all kind of thing. If you move to a different part of the country or even switch to another denomination or convert to Catholicism, you’re covered.
However, in other Christian denominations, the practice of infant baptism (Catholic tradition) is not considered sufficient because they…

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