• Our Blogger

    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.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Ben on Ask a Priest
    Chinonye on Ask a Priest
    Anon on Ask a Priest
    J on Ask a Priest
    Gabriel on Ask a Priest

Ask a Priest

Feel free to submit a new question or concern in the comment box below.  Various topics and questions are archived here for easy retrieval.  Please be courteous.  Comments are moderated so please be patient in waiting for them to appear and for any responses.  God bless you!





4,037 Responses

  1. Fr. Joe,

    I have a few questions about receiving Communion that I hope you can help with. Is there an amount of time that a person should wait to eat with a spoon or fork, or to brush their teeth after receiving Communion?
    Also, should if we should cut ourself after receiving Communion, should we try to collect the blood and dispose of it in a clean place? Is some of the properties of Communion to be considered in a blood for a time after receiving?

    Thank you,

    FATHER JOE: Current canon law stipulates a one-hour fast before receiving Holy Communion (canon 919). There are no current regulations about eating after reception; however, in practice many recommend a fifteen minute wait afterwards. If you cut yourself you should seek medical aide and not be so scrupulous. As for Eucharistic properties in the bloodstream, there are none. As soon as the accidentals or externals of bread and wine are destroyed by digestion, it is no longer the sacrament and the substance of the risen Christ or the real presence disappears.

  2. Hello Fr, is it a mortal or venial sin if you stay up late at midnight surfing the Internet or watching TV? Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: It is not necessarily a sin at all. The issue is whether we would still be up to our obligations the next day. If not then our irresponsibility might constitute sinfulness. The gravity would vary. Students need their rest to perform well at school. Those employed need their sleep so as to adequately fulfill their work duties. Bad job performance can translate to unemployment and hurting dependents.

  3. Hello Father! For my class next week, we have to read about the “LGBT” literary theory, and then it will be discussed in class. I really can’t miss the class because I already have to miss it another time, and it is only once a week. Is it a sin for me to go to this class and sit silently? Do I need to speak up or something, if we are just talking about it as a literary perspective?

    FATHER JOE: There is no sin in going to a class that covers such questionable material. There is value in understanding the views and ideas of others, even if we should find them offensive.

  4. Hi Father Joe. Can I, a Catholic, be a Godfather to a non-Catholic child? Thank you!


    I suspect what you mean to ask is whether a Catholic can be the godparent at a Protestant baptismal ceremony. The answer is somewhat complicated. Obviously the church or faith that is holding the baptism must preserve both matter (immersion, pouring or sprinkling water) and form (Trinitarian baptismal formula). Further, besides Catholic guidelines, would the rules of the non-Catholic church allow a faithful Catholic to serve as a godparent? As in the case of Episcopalians, the godparent should be confirmed in the Anglican Communion and this is not the case with a Catholic. Non-Catholics cannot be godparents in the Catholic Church; however, if validly baptized and living a Christian life, they may stand as Christian witnesses. Given that the baptism is valid you could be a Christian witness. You could affirm the Apostles’ Creed. However, you cannot profess and witness anything other than the Catholic faith.

    Godparents should ideally represent the ecclesial community in which the baptism takes place. A Catholic can witness to Catholic Christianity but cannot subscribe to any “mere Christianity” in terms of the faith education or formation of the person being baptized. The godparent is a support to the parents and a further guarantee that the youthful candidate will be raised within a particular church affiliation. Given our common baptism and filial ties, a baptized person from a non-Catholic ecclesial home may serve as a Christian witness in the Catholic Church as long as there is still one genuine Catholic godparent. Catholics may do the same for other denominations.

    When asked, a Catholic should share the specifics with his or her pastor before making the decision to be a Christian witness just as approbation is required to be a godparent.

  5. Praised to be Jesus father!
    I want to know how sin of lukewarmness really works?
    What kind of hesitation is grievous in face of Jesus?
    Thank you anticipated and I want to know if I can ask you something in private?


    The hesitation is a failure to respond promptly to the love of God. As with the story of the rich man who went away sad, he was called to place the love of God before everything else. Jesus invited him to surrender himself to charity and to follow him. However, he went away sad because “his possessions were many.” Does he ever return? The sin of lukewarmness lacks immediate specificity and can reference any of a number of sins in practice. A person who is neither hot nor cold has a lazy faith. Jesus says that he would have us lit ablaze. The disciple of Christ should be on fire for the faith.

    What in practice might demonstrate a lukewarm faith and discipleship? Some Catholics are hit-and-miss when it comes to attendance at Mass. Failing to keep the Sunday observance (which is a matter of mortal sin) they come to church late and leave early. They might only come at Christmas and Easter. They might say they pray but in truth there is little in the way of reflection or genuine oration. They pray only when they want something and are desperate or afraid. They are pawns of their culture and society, compromising their faith and beliefs for political expediency but rarely defending what is right. They pick-and-choose what they believe and want to do, literally becoming cafeteria Catholics. They are afraid to stand out as believers. If Christianity were a crime, there would not be enough evidence to convict them. They are passive to evil or even an enabler as in the tragedy of abortion and the challenges against marriage and the family. They put off doing what is right or good today for a tomorrow that never seems to come. When they list their priorities, God and the Church are at the end of their list. They needlessly delay the baptisms of their children and/or neglect their catechetical faith formation. They always go the way of least resistance, choosing vice and sin over virtue and obedience. They fail to keep the penitential laws of the Church about fasting and abstinence. They make excuses for sin and for not making an effort to be holy saints. They give up before they even try to be Christians. They criticize fervency in faith as an unwanted fanaticism. They put off until tomorrow the good they could do today.

  6. Hi, this is a short question. does God punish us if we sin when we are alive?

    FATHER JOE: The particular and the last judgment come after death. However, something of the consequences for sin begins in this world. Just as positive discipleship incurs virtues and develops character; disobedience invites vice and corrupts personality. Seen as a process, we are molded by our actions. One’s receptivity toward grace or blocking off of divine help can make a person either loving and generous or hateful and selfish. Sin breeds division and a woundedness of the soul. The person, who walks with God, knows despite adversity and struggle, joyfulness in standing in right relationship with God. The person who is repentant of sin and earnestly seeking holiness is already in communion with God and the saints of heaven. Death makes this state permanent.

  7. If a Greek Orthodox divorcee wants to marry in the Catholic Church what would the requirements be? Would that person need to obtain an annulment from the Catholic Church? Do they need to enrol in RCIA? This is assuming they would qualify for an annulment under Catholic process.


    We recognize (first) marriages in the Greek Orthodox churches, even though the emphasis is placed upon the “Church” and the “priest” instead of upon the “couple” as in the Catholic practice of witnessing the bond. If the person were married outside the Orthodox Church then a declaration of nullity because of a defect in canonical form might be possible. It all depends upon the standing we give their laws or code. Given that the first bond was solemnized by the Church then YES, the person would have to petition for a formal annulment in the Catholic Church before any projected marriage in the Catholic Church. The Greek Orthodox person would not be required to convert. It is likely that the Orthodox Church would not accept the Catholic marriage; our recognition of their marriages is not always reciprocally shared on their part. However, years ago I actually did have an Orthodox bishop give me permission in writing to marry an Orthodox man to a Catholic woman. It is a tad unusual.

    If the Orthodox person should decide to enter the Catholic Church, they would normally take their formation in the RCIA program. We would already recognize the sacraments given from the Orthodox Church. At the end of the process there is an act of reception. Even if the reception is in the Latin Church, the person received from Orthodoxy would still routinely be understood as an Eastern rite Catholic, subject to that bishop and not the local Latin ordinary. The rite tends to follow the father meaning that any children would also be Eastern rite— yes, even if all they have ever known was the Latin or Western rite.

  8. Fr. Joe,

    She does and she does not impose them upon me. She is aware of my Catholic beliefs. I just wanted to be sure i am not in harms way by being around the place. Thank you.

  9. I have been going to a message therapist for 5 yrs for a degenerative neck issue and she has made a huge difference….i have avoided surgery! However, she practices Reiki, Access Bars, etc. I have stayed away from that and just get my message. Now she is into more occult things. Speaking to spirits and giving work shops on connecting to past lives and such. My gut reaction is to stop seeing her. She has become a friend over the years. She is a good person, just misguided. So my question is would i be in danger spiritually around a person and a place where such things occur and should i cease seeing her?

    FATHER JOE: Speaking objectively, she is deceiving others and yet, if she is a good person who has helped you, then she is likely also a person suffering from self-deception. If the treatments have really helped, then thank her for helping but let her know that you have no interest in her occult preoccupations. You may want to quietly pray for her during the treatments. Does she know what you think about her so-called psychic involvement?

  10. Hello Father Joe,

    I recently saw a cross that was made out of two wrenches. Here’s a link to what it looked like: https://images.app.goo.gl/H2EaAVMmYuZkMyZk7
    As an aircraft mechanic, I see it as a great reminder to follow Christ’s example in all I do, even while I’m simply working. But at the same time, this can be seen as sacrilegious.

    Would this be considered sacrilegious, especially if it’s only a reminder to follow Christ’s example? It’s not something I would use in prayer.

    Thank you for your time!

    FATHER JOE: How is it sacrilegious? Our Lord tells us to take up our cross and to follow him. A tradesman is reminded that he follows the Lord by his time, talent and treasure. The debris of a cross became a monument of hope at ground zero on 9-11. The cross is the cross.

  11. Am I required to find ways to “enjoy” intimacy with my husband if he presses me to, even if I do not want to and am still fulfilling his desires for intimacy in our marriage? I have been married for 9 years, we have children, I do not shy away from intimacy with my husband; but I have also never enjoyed it either (it can be uncomfortable or even mildly painful for me at times). Over the years I’ve asked him not to touch me in one specific way that really feels awful for me and the lack of that type of touch should have no impact on his needs. Typically there is a rather defensive argument if I ask about this but then he says he’ll try not to touch me like that again, which rarely lasts long. I believe it is absentmindedness/lack of paying attention to my request rather than malicious when he fails at this, but it’s still upsetting as every time it comes up it results in an argument. Recently he again said he’d try not to touch me that way, but he coupled his commitment with a near demand that we find ways for me to enjoy intimacy. This makes me very uncomfortable and quite stressed as I don’t have any desire to try any ways to force myself to enjoy what I never have. He claims to be fully satisfied with our marriage in that way, and I feel like this push is due to his ego being bruised over the fact I don’t enjoy intimacy with him (and don’t care to). I also feel he is in a rush for this to be successful and may blame me if it isn’t successful. I don’t mind fulfilling my duties to him, but I am very upset over the stress of being forced to feel what I don’t feel and I think the stress will only make that harder for me. Am I within my rights as a wife not to be pressed to enjoy intimacy so long as I still submit to him?


    You talk about submission to your husband as if it were some form of bondage or oppression. This is really messed up. You ask the question, “Am I within my rights as a wife not to be pressed to enjoy intimacy so long as I still submit to him?” Am I right that you do not see what is wrong with this question and the volumes of negativity it communicates about your relationship?

    I would question the narrow scope of what you mean by marital intimacy. It must not be reduced to the mechanical or just to the pleasures of the flesh. The joy of the marital act includes but should not be restricted to the excitement in the flesh between a man and woman. The passion of marriage also includes the fact that there is a mutual surrender to a particular man or woman. The husband wants to embrace his wife and his wife should want to be embraced. The Church would define the marital act as that human act that is open to the generation of new human beings. It is this act that consummates the marriage bond and which regularly renews their covenant with each other and God. Sexual relations between spouses has a given component of biology (men and women are attracted to each other), a personal factor (an encounter that fosters fidelity and union with a particular person) and a spiritual element (the sacrament where we see the Lord in the beloved). These three things foster true intimacy among Christian lovers.

    The problem I immediately see here is that you view intimacy with your husband as entirely his joy and simply a chore for you. This short-changes the both of you. You have been a dutiful wife but you acknowledge that you have never enjoyed intimacy with your husband. Indeed, you write that it is uncomfortable and “mildly painful” at times. A good husband wants the satisfaction that comes from relations with his wife; however, he also wants her to share his joy. (This is not simply his problem or his ego!) Have you seen a doctor to find out why sexual intimacy is painful? Might there be psychological reasons why you have reservations or lack passion about it? The real question is not whether you should consent to intimacy with your husband (apart from given health reasons or propriety) but rather why is it that you neither want nor enjoy it?

    The Church emphasizes the marital act (consensual vaginal intercourse between a man and woman in marriage). Except as a foreplay precursor or as a summation (extension) of the marital act, Catholic moral ethicists would frown upon oral sex. Anal intercourse, both for homosexuals and heterosexuals, is utterly rejected as feigning the marital act and is immoral. Men and women are not machines and the faith would respect the intimacy and touch of bodies in the marriage bed. There is a form of touch that you prohibit your husband. Not knowing what this is, I can offer no evaluation. However, spouses should remember that they surrender their very selves— as bodily or corporeal creatures— to one another. You become one flesh. It sends a mixed message when couples get married and then one or the other restricts touching. The wife’s body belongs to her husband. The husband’s body belongs to his wife. Human beings are bodily persons. It is along these lines that the Church emphasizes fidelity and condemns adultery. Indeed adultery is related to theft because that which belongs to the spouse is taken by another (a robber).

    Your husband is right in wanting you to find satisfaction and joy within marital intimacy. There is something wrong. That is why you are uncomfortable and stressed out. Given that you are both doing everything correctly, then I really would recommend discussing the issue with a doctor. It may be an issue of hormones and chemistry. I have also known cases where an overly scrupulous upbringing and even past trauma has caused such problems. There is a huge difference between sometimes not feeling like having sex with your husband and “never” feeling like it (or even really wanting it). I suppose that can be pretty crushing to his ego as well. Remember, it is not all about your husband— he wants you to be passionate and happy as his wife. There is a unique satisfaction that comes with young couples in sharing what the bible calls “the one flesh.”

    You write, “I don’t have any desire to try any ways to force myself to enjoy what I never have.” While the intensity varies from person to person, the desire is natural and should be there. A situation that would have benefited you as a celibate religious is a detriment to you as a married person. Seek medical intervention and counseling.

  12. Dear Father Joeseph
    I live to try with all my soul to do God ‘s will by not violating any of the seven sins or 10 commanments.For the violation of those in my past I have been living a celibate, charitable and life of much prayer the last 14 years.Being very charitable eliminates me from being greedy or enivious or glutonous. The only sins I strugle with at times is pride and lust.To remedy pride I refrain from giivng my opinoins and only speak when spoken to and silently pray fro those who un fairly critisized me.I have remained celibate fro 14 years now but on occations would look at a fully clothed woman with lust while never having a sexual experiance
    at all or never viewing nudity at all.I recently looked at a fully clothed woman with lust while as always had no sexual experiance at all but this time the guilt cuased great depresstion from the guilt of the sin the depresstion was temporary thoughI becouse i prayed fro hours to beg fro forgiveness and it elimanted the depresstion.I though look at the depresstion as a loving grace from God to discipline me to not be tempted to lust again becouse of the pain of the depresstion wich left after hours of begging fro forgiveness but that pain of depresstion is I believe a loving way God is aiding me from lusting again so as to save my soul from having to pay in purgatory fro the cleansing of my soul of that sin.Father I can not get to confesstion untill wendsday but will pray hours more beggging fro forgiveness but if i should be called to God fro my jugement day since i cant get to confesstion untill wendsday and i am praying hours fro frogiveness will i be albsoved of the sin.?The pain of depresstion becouse of the guilt of the sin i hope will be a penance as well although i am free of depresstion now becouse of hours of prayer begging fro frogiveness-thank you fro you r time-in love and penance brother bryan


    How old are you? I ask this because it may or may not be too late to change your life. Have you ever sought professional counseling? I do not mean spiritual direction or advice in the confessional; rather, I am speaking about guidance in regards to your feelings and depression. You ask about confession and what you detail is probably a venial sin that only needs a good act of contrition. My concern is not about your question but about how you see God and what you have made of your life. What I am about to write might sound harsh but it comes from the heart.

    First, it is good to avoid the deadly sins. However, just as we are called to avoid the sins of commission, we are also to be mindful of possible sins of omission. Your fearfulness might have made you a victim to this element of sin that often disguises itself as virtue and hides in the cracks of people’s lives. You mentioned that you have lived a life of charity but your entire focus in the comment was about yourself. Charity by definition always looks beyond the self to others and to God. Are you generous with your treasure? Are you involved with any apostolate for the poor and/or the hurting? Sins of omission are usually of two kinds: (1) a failure to speak or to act when there is a cry for justice (especially for the marginalized and the oppressed); and, (2) a hesitance to extend one’s resources, time and talent for the needs of others, especially the poor.

    You keep your opinions to yourself but in doing so you have also silenced the evangelical proclamation of the Good News. You assert that you pray silently and away from others so as not to be unfairly criticized. What you are describing here is FEAR. The sin of omission in your life touches the very commission that Jesus gave to his apostles. We are sent on mission to witness as sentinels of Christ. Jesus tells his friends after his resurrection, “Be not afraid.” But you are filled with fear. It stifles the soul. True faith would have us be courageous in Christ. You live too much in yourself and not enough for Christ and in the world. Even the hermits and cloistered saints of the Church do not spurn the world. They work and pray as a particular intercession for the world— an act of reparation for the many who have forgotten God and our obligations to him and one another. Your focus is merely on personal maintenance. This will not make you a saint.

    Second, as believers we should all observe the Ten Commandments; however, just keeping the rules will not make anyone holy or good. The Muslims like certain Jews of old associate fidelity with keeping the law. Christians are called beyond a blind deontology. Our focus and the lens through which we understand the Decalogue is the two-fold commandment of love given by Christ. Before all persons, places or things we are to love God. Given that God has first loved us beyond measure and called us into existence, we too must respond by loving him in return with everything that makes us who we are— with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” That love by necessity spills over into our love of neighbor. It is a love that cannot be contained. It is this love that accompanies the virtues of faith and hope. It is this love that unlocks the gate into the kingdom. Our saving personal and communal faith is lived out or expressed in loving obedience. My impression is that you view God as a judge who is looking to count the points after you die to see if you are worthy of heaven. This is not the Christian God. Even your view of purgatory seems pejorative and yet it is God’s merciful effort to save us from those small elements of our makeup that need cleansing and perfection. Purgatory is an opportunity to bask in the divine fire of love and to know final healing and purification.

    Third, I have to wonder if you could even genuinely define Christian celibacy. Not everyone is called to such a life and that is why the love of a husband and wife is also good and holy. You seem to have a negative view of the body and human sexuality. This is an old heresy and it is a perennial trap set by the devil. Satan would have you condemn the body and the love between spouses as corrupt and sinful. Everything that God creates is good. There is only a short distance from castigation against God’s creation and rebuke against almighty God, himself.

    Christian celibacy is much more than not having sexual relations. Celibacy in this context is a form of love and self-donation. One gives him- or herself to a direct love of God and his people. This is practically defined through prayer and service. The Scriptures speak of it as an eschatological sign pointing toward the coming of Christ’s kingdom. You speak about lust and this too must be properly defined. It is not lust to look at one and to be awed by the beauty of God’s creation. That is why the unclothed human body adorns the Vatican art works. There is a sense of happiness in God’s creation at the sight of a pretty girl or a handsome boy. Our response is to thank God and not to curse him or our humanity. Lust is not the same as sexual attraction or sexual pleasure. This is where generic dictionaries get it wrong. It is not the same as the holy passion for spouses in marriage. Lust is something more bestial than human. Instead of thinking about the good of the beloved, it focuses only on its own need or hunger. Lust depersonalizes the other into an object. It is more about power than about love. It craves, subdues, demands, takes, and even hurts and kills. It is lust that fuels the current worldwide abortion holocaust. It is lust that makes possible the lucrative pornography market and human trafficking. Persons are reduced to commodities. Here too the devil takes delight because his vision of the human being is one of utter hatred, viewing us merely as animated sacks of meat and blood. Lust might begin in the mind but it poisons the heart and brings degradation to the flesh.

    Finally, I must speak to what you call depression. Let me set you straight, depression is not a loving gift of God. If anything, it comes from the evil one. You have been utterly duped. Maybe you did it to yourself? Depression and most ailments that we refer to as anxieties are symptomatic of an anger that has turned in. I cannot say for sure what this anger is about in your life. I do not know you well enough to say. I suspect that you are not happy with your life. Disappointments often make people upset, even angry with God. Often as well, there develops an unhealthy self-hatred. The person begins to view himself as defective and as junk in the eyes of God. He wonders if God can forgive him and his sins because he cannot even begin to forgive himself. Just as the lax conscience leads one to overtly act out sins, the scrupulous soul tends to torture itself with even the most minor transgressions or even with imagined sins. It seems unfair, but this latter attitude can be just as damning as the former. Hate in any form is no way to take up the cross to follow Jesus. Look to the early martyrs of the faith. They accepted what came to them with courage and conviction. Indeed, we are told that many of them manifested joy at the opportunity to witness to Christ. It is with this that I want to finish: where is your joy?

    Celibate love is more than a discipline; it is a joyous and selfless way of living our lives for God and others. Where is your joy? You mention charity as a help but every deadly sin has its corresponding virtue: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, forgiveness, kindness and humility. Virtues are not like a grocery list from which we can make selections. They come as a package deal. Again, where is your joy? One cannot be depressed or negative and still proclaim the GOOD News. Find joy in your life, even if you have to change habits and a lifestyle that you have long pursued.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s