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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Ash Wednesday (Ashes)

Job 42:6: “. . . therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Jonah 3:6: The tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

Recently, I was somewhat surprised when the neighboring Baptist Church called the priest at the local Catholic Church, asking for ashes. The minister’s congregation wanted to do what Catholics did in this regard as a visible sign to others of their Christian faith. I am afraid they missed the point about it as a sign of penance, but the change in orientation was worthy of note. I suspect, also, that they were struggling for ways to express what their hearts felt toward the suffering and death of Jesus. (It must be said that such changes in Protestant customs are also coming as a result of the defection of simple and poorly informed Catholics into the Protestant churches. They are easily swayed by delightful fellowship, black-and-white statements of faith [no matter how flawed], and by certain economic incentives. Ministers are very enthused to claim them at first, but over the long run these people long for elements of their “cultural” Catholicism. I know one Baptist minister in Washington, D.C. who had seen many Hispanics join his church after the instigation of a Spanish bible study program. However, he eventually stopped it. When I asked about it, (keeping my reserve as best as possible), he lamented their presence. He said they were coming in great numbers and changing his church. There was no talking to them. Hundreds of votive candles had started appearing in his church and then the worst of all, little statues in the windows. He would tell them that such things were superstitious and idolatrous. Confusing him as a priest, they would smile and say, “Yes, FATHER!” and go about their business as if he had said nothing. The Catholic Church’s use of sacramentals like ashes reveals that we respect both the head and the heart. The rejection of such a sign of penance is blatant irreverence and counter to Scriptural testimony.

For more such reading, contact me about getting my book, DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH.

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