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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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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS   MARY OUR MOTHER

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  1. I went out to my garden to pray this morning. I have been sleep deprived and overwhelmed from visiting and helping my aging parents. I love my famiy but was not at peace. So I started on telling God who I resented (my stress and tiredness had me seeing only the negative sides of their personalities and not the positive). Next thing I knew God was named as one of my resentments.at that point my anger flared
    I called out to God that I was sick of praying, sick of the guessing game of if I was using the right words or not, sick of waiting for joy in my life (and pleasure is not joy) I wanted hope, and reassurance and celebration, and I called God a jerk and a few worse swear words and even said I hated Him. I told him I was sick of my long years of worry and anxiety and that Silence! No reassurance! Then I felt instant remorse
    I prayed I was sorry and asked for forgiveness and told God I didn’t mean it
    But in a weird way I still feel as if another power looks on at me and is trivialising the attempts I make to brighten the day when things are stressful and I’m fighting against depression. It’s like hearing derisive comments about pathetic attempts to do something creative or small gestures of loving because it’s all going to end up in sorrow and emptiness in the end.

    FATHER JOE:

    You write: “I went out to my garden to pray this morning.”

    Do you remember the story of someone else who went to a garden so as to pray?

    Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:36-39)

    You may have to care for aging parents, but our Lord had the weight of the world upon his shoulders. No one wants to encounter suffering and dying, but such is the measure of the cross that we must take up if we are to follow Jesus. Our Lord found some respite with the fellowship of his friends and time taken away from the crowds. But the storm clouds were ever looming before him. Just as you do what you do because you love your family, it is the mystery of love that brings Jesus into solidarity with us. We are not promised perfect happiness in this world, but we are guaranteed that God walks with us and that one day all tears will be wiped away.

    Given your long litany of discontent, I am not surprised that you exploded against God. It is clear that you feel overwhelmed and that you are not happy with your life right now. While you mention only one challenge, the care for aging parents whom you love, I suspect there is much more going on. Look at your list of responsive negatives:

    • sleep deprived
    • overwhelmed
    • not at peace
    • stress and tiredness (stressful)
    • seeing only the negative
    • resentments
    • anger
    • fighting against depression
    • no reassurance
    • going to end up in sorrow and emptiness (despair)

    Given how you feel, it is no wonder that you are unhappy. God understands the trial and he also appreciates the truth about human hearts. More than guilt or remorse about bad-mouthing God, he would have you find healing and true peace. God is neither Aladdin’s Djinn obliged to grant wishes nor the mythical goddess Nemesis eager to enact divine retribution and revenge.

    Given real struggles, it would not be wrong to seek counseling and even to see a doctor to help with the chemistry of your emotions. We all need hope and sometimes help from others in lifting the dark veil or shroud that would smother us. Do not close the doors and windows to assistance by reducing such efforts to “pathetic attempts to do something creative.” Do not stop looking for joy even if your efforts feel like “trivializing attempts.”

    You might pray, but once hope is compromised, faith is also quickly devalued of meaning. Again, note how you admit it with your own words:

    • sick of praying
    • sick of the guessing game
    • sick of waiting for joy
    • sick of my long years of worry and anxiety
    • sick of silence

    You are beginning to wonder if you are only talking to yourself. The word “sick” here is telling. You are ailing spiritually and need the divine physician. I would urge reading the Gospels and praying with others. Take the sacraments regularly and find fellowship with other believers. While you have obligations to others, you also have a duty to yourself. Take a break from your labors and do something that is fun and relaxing for you. If Jesus could take time out from his labors, then so should you. The batteries run down unless we find time to charge them up. Make your garden, not simply a place for the problems of the day to gang up upon you, but as a needed oasis from the storm of life. I pray that the angels that ministered to Jesus will also come to you. God bless you!

  2. Hi Father. I just had a follow up question regarding my recent question about scandal and tv. You said there are serious issues with blasphemy in shows. About six months or a year ago I was watching this show called “Lost” (by myself),about a group of people stranded on an island. In parts of a few episodes, corrupt priests smuggled drugs in statues of the Blessed Mother to the island. I tried to fast forward the show when those parts came on, but I also did watch some of those parts i order to understand the story. I don’t think I confessed watching this right away- not until I had been to Confession a few times since I watched it- because I wasn’t really sure if it was a mortal sin or not. Then I did confess it and asked the priest if it was okay to watch and I think he said it was okay. So did I commit a mortal sin by watching that show and if I did, were all those confessions invalid since I didn’t bring it up in COnfession right away? (Honestly I can’t even remember if I brought it up in confession right away- i might have- but it was a while ago) Sorry if this is confusing.

    FATHER JOE: Corruption exists no matter if actors are playing real or feigned clergy. I did not see the entire series, but I would tend to agree with the priest that no sin was committed. Fiction often depicts both virtue and vice. Some of my favorite actors often played villains. There is something of value to be found in a morality play. The problem today is that modernity often misunderstands the meaning of goodness and buys into weak stereotypes about God and religion.

  3. Hi Father Hope you are well
    This Question has to do with prayer.
    When you are praying is it normal to be hounded with series of temptations to the point you just stop praying. The temptations are a bit scary and outlandish. If you say no to them out loud but they keep coming back. What do you do?

    FATHER JOE: Temptations can come at any time but I cannot say that it is usual that one would be singularly tempted by “scary and outlandish” temptations while trying to pray.

  4. Dear Fr Joe,
    Hope you are keeping fine.
    Is it allowed for religious sisters or seminarians to distribute Holy Communion?
    Thanks as always for your blog.
    God bless you father.

    FATHER JOE: They would have to be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. A seminarian in theology might be installed as an Acolyte.

  5. is it the sin of scandal to watch a tv show with other people where the characters sometimes curse or it is sometimes slightly inappropriate? im not sure if this is my scrupulosity getting the best of me or not

    FATHER JOE: WE live in a world that is saturated with questionable images, rude language and provocative lifestyles. We should be cognizant of our witness, but the level for scandal seems to have shifted. We should not delight in such things. We should urge and promote more wholesome alternatives. But I would shy away from the word sin in all such settings. Of course, there are sinful programs and I am not entirely sure what shows you might mean. There are serious issues with graphic vulgarity, blasphemy and pornography.

  6. Father,

    I’m having a bit of a debate with a fellow. Is it possible to receive communion if a person doesn’t believe Mary was conceived without sin, that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and believes justification is by Grace?

    Please help me to respond to him.

    FATHER JOE: One should be a believing Catholic to receive Holy Communion. The person you describe would no longer be a Catholic in terms of accepting the revealed faith. Reject the Pope and you renounce Catholicism. The AMEN said at communion time functions as a faith profession… about the real presence in the Eucharist… and about the the Church and faith that extends the sacrament. The AMEN means YES I BELIEVE in the risen Eucharistic Jesus… in the continuing role that Mary plays as the Immaculate Conception… in the apostles and the ROCK upon which Christ built his Church. The Church has the right to regulate her sacraments. If your friend renounces key elements of the faith and the authority established by Christ then he is not welcome to take the sacrament. This can change with repentance and continuing conversion. But it would be hypocritical to say AMEN and take the sacrament when he really means NO and that he DOES NOT believe.

  7. Hi Father.let say there is someone who has struggled with addiction his whole life and is doing everything possible to overcome his addiction. He has been going to confession and has been praying daily for grace. One night he is very depressed and down and watch pornography that he had forgotten about in the house. He tries to fight the urge but gives in. Immediately afterwards he feels sorry and deep remorse. The next morning is Sunday and he tries to go to confession but cannot get to the priest in time. Should he go to Communion? Thanks n God bless

    FATHER JOE: One might make a good act of contrition with the resolution to go to confession ASAP and then make the decision in conscience about reception. Since one is not obliged to take Holy Communion each week, attendance at Mass would suffice as far as the precepts of the Church are concerned.

  8. Is the Prayer to the Immaculate heart of the Virgin Mary idolatry!

    FATHER JOE:

    No, because the object of all Catholic prayer is almighty God. Prayers that invoke Mary and the saints signify INTERCESSORY prayer. We pray for and with each other. We believe in the communion of the saints and the resurrection of the dead. The Church exists in pilgrimage (on Earth), in purification (in Purgatory) and in glory (in Heaven). Remember the forms of prayer: (1) praise, (2) thanksgiving, (3) contrition, (4) supplication, (5) intercession, and (6) reparation (joining ourselves to the saving work of Christ).

    O JESUS, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you the prayers, works and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your divine Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; and in particular for the intentions of the Apostleship of Prayer.

    In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    Blessed be the holy and undivided Trinity, now and for evermore. Amen.

    Come, O Holy Spirit, replenish my heart, and enkindle in it the fire of your divine love. Amen.

    ETERNAL GOD, most holy and adorable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the beginning and end of all things, in whom we live, move, and have our being, I firmly believe that you are here present; I adore you with the most profound humility; I praise you; I give you thanks from the bottom of my heart for having created me after your own image and likeness, and redeemed me with the precious blood of your Son; for having hitherto preserved me, and brought me safe to the beginning of this day. Behold, O Lord, I offer you my whole being, and in particular all my thoughts, words, and actions, together with such crosses and contradictions as I may meet within the course of this day. I consecrate them entirely to the glory of your name, in union with those of Jesus Christ, my Savior, that through his infinite merits they may find acceptance in your sight. Give them, O Lord, your blessing. May your divine love animate them; and may they all tend to the greater honor of your Sovereign Majesty. Amen.

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