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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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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!

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3,825 Responses

  1. Good afternoon, I had a very important question to ask. Ok, so, during Holy Week my family and I have always gone to church for mass on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Sunday being Easter). We’ve never missed a day. Is it obligatory for me to go all 4 days? Can I go with them to mass on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and not go Saturday? Reason being is because my best friend has her 21st birthday that this year landed on Saturday, because Holy Week was pushed back by two weeks, and she said it would be extremely important for her for me to be there. Is it alright for me to go to her birthday party on Saturday and go to mass the remaining 3 days?

    FATHER JOE: You are not obliged under Church law to attend Mass on Holy Thursday or services on Good Friday. As for the vigil on Holy Saturday and the Mass on Sunday, they both count for the Easter obligation. If you attend Mass on Holy Saturday or Easter Sunday, the obligation is fulfilled. You do NOT have to go both on Saturday and Sunday.

  2. I was in a class and my classmate said she had a seance in her dorm room. She said her other teacher even encouraged her to because they are studying some kind of paranormal stuff, or like that was a topic of her paper (this is a problem since I go to a Catholic college). Anyway, I didn’t speak up or say that she should probably not do that because seances are dangerous and evil. I was too scared to speak up. Did I commit a mortal sin? I just feel so ashamed because stuff like this happens a lot and I’m afraid to speak up in public for my faith.

    FATHER JOE: You may not have sinned but you were not a good friend. Séances constitute false religion or the occult. While as Catholics we can invoke the intercession of the saints or pray for the souls in purgatory, we do not deliberately seek two-way communication with the dead. While it constitutes superstition, it is dangerous and opens us to demonic manipulation. Active involvement is regarded as seriously sinful.

  3. I’m not catholic but this is the only forum I have found. I really need to know if God holds our bad thoughts against us. I try my best to do the right thing but my thoughts aren’t always good. I’ve thought about doing things that I would never ever do. I have never intentionally hurt anyone. I don’t think I could in reality, but in my mind is another matter. Can we be forgiven for our bad thoughts? Or am I dammed to hell?

    FATHER JOE: Yes, we can be forgiven for bad thoughts, especially those that take pleasure from illicit acts or contemplate violence against others. We must be contrite or sorry and ask God for forgiveness. Further, we should nurture positive thoughts that gravitate toward justice and mercy.

  4. Dear Fr. Joe,
    There is a lot going on in my life at the moment. I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged and anxious about how things will all turn out. So much is out of my control, and I’ve been on the receiving end of some significant difficulties.

    I also have been having feelings that creep into my awareness, feelings of doubt and questioning God’s existence…that it’s all in vain and foolish….and questioning some things we believe as Catholics. I am a committed and practicing Catholic..who attends Mass each Sunday and 2-3 times during the week…..and I do love my Catholic Faith….and my relationship with God, etc. So, I’m not really sure where these feelings are coming from and what I should do about them. It happened today at Mass, staring up at the crucifix, and feeling doubt creep into my heart. And then, my heart was so sad and ashamed to be thinking these things at all!! After all Jesus did for us out of love! I feel as though these thoughts of doubt are out of my control. But then, I’m considering and entertaining these doubts as if evaluating if they have merit. It’s like a battle is going on within me, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

    Is having doubts a common things for Catholics? And, what should I do about it?

    Thank you, Fr. Joe.

    FATHER JOE: We live in a society and world where many things challenge our Catholic faith. Doubts and uncertainty can afflict any of us. I would urge you to see these challenges as opportunities for study and prayer… so as to grow stronger in the faith. Such struggles can insure that we do more than just go through the motions. The Lord wants our hearts and minds. Read good books. Invoke the Holy Spirit. Remain faithful to the sacraments.

  5. I was on a tour where a dinner was served with only meat on a Lenten Friday that I was not told about in advance by the tour company. I remember from my youth that under these circumstances it was wrong to waste food as opposed to eating it. Did I do the right thing in eating it rather than wasting it? If, so what am I obligated to do? Thank you, Patrick.

    FATHER JOE: Given that it was beyond your control, you were right not to waste food.

  6. i went to a funeral where someone had been cremated and the ashes were at the funeral. Did I commit a sin by attending the funeral? Also, someone said that she was giving her ashes to science because that’s what she wanted. I don’t think you are supposed to do that as a Catholic. But was it wrong for me to attend the funeral?

    FATHER JOE: You have a number of the facts wrong. First, there is no longer a Church prohibition (in most places) in regards to cremation. Second, bodies are sometimes cremated after given and used for science.

  7. Hi. I suffer from OCD/Scrupulosity and was wondering about culpability for mortal sin. I was looking at a website that I knew may cause me to do something that would be considered mortal sin, but I thought that the chances were so low that I went there anyway without thinking. Almost immediately after I opened the website, I closed it out and felt ashamed of myself. Is this mortal sin? I really don’t know what to do.

    Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: It is possible, but I do not know what website and material you viewed.

  8. Dear Father Joe,

    When we go to confession do we have to name sins of the same nature individually or can we use a more general term eg If I have committed a number of sexual sins would i have to list each one.

    Many thanks

    FATHER JOE: The general rule is “species and number.” In other words, you identify the sin and to the best of your recollection, divulge how many times it was committed.

  9. I heard someone mention antipopes and looked them up on google out of curiosity and also found this website concerning Popes John Paul II and Benedict and Francis, who were all named as heretics and antipopes.

    [site = opus dei alert]

    I’ve never heard such shocking stuff. Are these people just nuts or is there anything to any of this? Surely they are just hysterical?

    FATHER JOE: Extremism or fanaticism of this sort probably does have its roots in mental illness. Indeed, such paranoia or “conspiracy psychological illness” is a field of research for many professionals.

  10. Hi Father,
    I have been reading your blog for a while now. We do not hold many of the same opinions but I enjoy how you answer questions respectfully. I am in a class where we are supposed to interview a religious leader on their opinions of mental illness. I do not know any priests in real life so I thought I would reach out to you. If you could, please answer the following questions:

    Is your faith accepting of mental illness?
    How can a church play a role in helping the mentally ill?

    Thank you so much.

    FATHER JOE:

    Catholic Charities runs a number of programs where counselors and therapists are available to help people suffering from mental illness. We also run a number of hospitals that make a difference as well. We try to be welcoming and caring toward all who come to us.

    http://www.ncpd.org/mental-illness

  11. A priest has no business preaching politics. Shameful. I refuse to attend any mass with a political priest and will walk out during mass if he starts praising the Nazi right wing. Catholics should all walk out. We go to church for spiritual reasons–ostensibly–not political ones.

    FATHER JOE: If I recall correctly, the Nazi movement like other forms of totalitarian socialism, represented “left” not “right wing” politics. That is why they were called leftists. Certain values, like the sanctity of human life and the dignity of persons must be defended and promoted… regardless of political inclinations. Many seem to forget that Catholic doctrine includes certain social teachings.

  12. Hi, Father.
    Newish Catholic convert here. We love our priest! Etiquette question: Could we invite our priest out for pizza for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, or is that presumptuous? Should we invite other families, too?

    FATHER JOE: I suspect he likes pizza too. Should be no problem

    .

  13. Hi Father
    I was wondering when it is necessary to receive the Eucharist. Must we receive on Easter Sunday or just during the Easter season. If it’s the latter, what is that specified time according to the Church?
    Thanks

    FATHER JOE: If one has not gone during the year then the Easter duty is satisfied by going to confession and receiving Holy Communion during the Easter season.

  14. Hello Father Joe,
    Is it wrong to be transgender? I was assigned female at birth. I experience crippling gender dysphoria, so I have decided to go under a masculine name and male pronouns. I also want to do hormones and surgeries in the future to alleviate my distress. My family is not supportive with my gender identity due to ‘God doesn’t make mistakes’ or ‘God’s design’. That implies that God is against changes, but this is proven wrong in the bible. Abram is renamed Abraham by God.
    God bless,
    D

    FATHER JOE:

    Frankly, I am old enough that such topics never came up when I was a seminarian studying moral theology. The whole business of gender dysphoria was simply regarded as aberrational and rare. Is it wrong to be transgendered? There is not much you can immediately do about your feelings. I suppose counseling would help people to better accept the gender that is biologically manifested and systemic to the human person. The word “assigned” strikes me as weak and possibly as deceptive. Gender is not personally selected or assigned by parents, doctors or politicians. One might argue that it is imposed by nature or by the God of nature. Just as certain people rebel against the moral law— such dissent may be another symptom of a radical self-absorption where the person literally rebels against the sovereignty of God. The person is crying out, “No one can tell me what to do or what to be, not even God!” There is little of humility and acceptance in such a stance. The person may also take the posture of victim, as if he or she has been abused by a prejudicial society and treated unfairly by an unfeeling God.

    As with the homosexual question, I recall serious debates about whether the disorientation was due to nature or nurture. I knew a number of men who struggled with sexual identity due to early experiences of abuse, trauma and negative psychological manipulation. They seemed to be helped by talking with caring professionals. I do not know what counseling and therapies you may have explored; further, if help was sought, I cannot know whether the assistance was sympathetic to a Christian appreciation of the situation. As a priest, I could not support the decision to seek hormonal therapy and surgical mutilation as a means to remedy the challenges you face. It is my understanding that such efforts are rarely if ever satisfactory.

    I suppose someday soon there will need to be an informative and rational discussion about the nature of sexual identity. Gender is not an interchangeable accidental to human personhood. This is an important point in the discussion about the male-only priesthood and the man as a living icon for Christ. Such an investigation, and I dare say debate, will have to consider (1) the DNA designation, (2) the biological appearance, (3) the inner sense of sexual identity, (4) the spiritual component or soul, (5) maladies of the mind and body, and (6) social or cultural conditioning. The matter of the soul must not be overlooked as a wounded person might live as one gender in this world and find him- or herself as another in eternity with the resurrection of the dead.

    The so-called “God does not make mistakes” polemic is more a fundamentalist Protestant than a Catholic argument. However, the appreciation of design and nature would fit into the Catholic assessment. Catholicism also appreciates that sin has brought disharmony, suffering, illness and death into the world. There is no way to avoid the fact that ours is a valley of tears. We are all broken and wounded in various ways. You are a woman who wants to be a man. No matter what you do, you will never be the man you want to be. As a woman, you might still know happiness, even if you will always feel uncomfortable in your skin. Some of us come into the world with special needs. Others face injuries that cost limbs or sacrifice mobility. Maybe you should think more about what good you can do for others and less about how you might be “fixed?” We will not get everything we want in this world. I might prefer to be an angel than a human being. But sewing wings to my back will hurt and not make me an angel able to fly. I am what I am. I seek to make the best of it.

    Whatever happens, I hope and pray that yours is a family that will always love you, even if they cannot approve or accept what you do to yourself. God bless you.

  15. Dear Father,
    I’m sorry for bombarding you with questions but I have another one. Last night I was at our Prom and a couple of dudes wanted to crowd surf this guy. This means we pick him up and he lays flat while he gets passed on throughout the crowd. I contemplated this before I helped pick him up and thought about him getting injured. I really had no strong convincing feeling not to do it and I felt that if I spotted him and made sure he wouldn’t fall while I had him it would be ok. I didn’t want him to get hurt. Is this a serious sin? Do I need to confess this sin before taking the Eucharist? Is there a difference between trying to hurt someone and being a part of something that he could potentially get hurt? Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: Was he agreeable to the activity? As a general rule we should not touch people without their permission. If angry about it, then it was at least a venial sin. If really dangerous and unwanted, it might be mortal.

  16. Dear Father, we are the parents of an adoptive son legally married to another man. We try to show respect for both and we do not judge them. We have tried to maintain a relationship with our son, but I do not like to be with both. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father waits for the son to have a change of heart and to return. The partner of our son in not part of our family in the same way a daughter or son would be if they were married in the Catholic Church.Is it our moral obligation to maintain a relationship with the partner of our son?

    FATHER JOE: The Church does not recognize same-sex marriages so there could hardly be a moral obligation to maintain a relationship with your son’s partner. However, if you want to sustain a good relationship with your son then you may have to be cordial and welcoming to his special friend. This person means a great deal to him and thus family harmony would dictate opening your hearts to them both.

  17. Hello Father,

    I just got out of another relationship. I fell in love with a guy and he reviprocated those feelings. Something happened one day that made him realize he had things he needed to work on about his personality. He started questioning everything,including his feelings for me. We talked and agreed to take a break until he sorted out his personality issues. Afew weeks later after talking, he told me he has no idea ig he ever had feelings for me romantically. This is the third time this has happened to me, and I feel like God js punishing me. I don’t know why this is happening, because instead of getting stronger spiritually and as a person, I’m left with huge scars and I can’t trust what anyone says to me anymore, especially regarding how they feeo about me. I’m not doubting God but I don’t understand why this is happening, and I feel like he is ignoring all my prayerd and cries for help. I don’t know what to do. And I am devastated because it feels like I may never find the right guy to marry and have a family with, which I want more than anything.

    FATHER JOE: Worrying about relationships will not fix matters. Keep company with nice people and keep moving forward.

  18. Dear Fr.

    Hi, I have a question. Can someone who is unable to go to confession for a long time receive communion? My mom is a non practing Catholic and my dad does not believe in God or associate with any religion. My parents don’t take me to church. Sometimes my Grandma will but every time she make me receive communion and would question me if I wouldn’t. I believe I have committed a mortal sin but I can’t go to confession until December which is my Catholic school’s annual confession. Can I receive communion? I have asked God to forgive me for my mortal sin and I explained my situation to him. What happens if I die? Will I go to hell? I don’t think that I have made a perfect contrition.

    FATHER JOE: God knows your heart and if you love him. If you find that you cannot get to confession, make a good act of contrition. Also, do not be timid about telling your priest about the challenges facing you. He might be able to make an appointment at school for you to go to confession. If your parents do not practice, do you have any friends with whom you might go to Sunday Mass? If you have no way to get to Mass or Confession then the fault or blame is with your parents. God will not hold you accountable for things beyond your power. Say your prayers and keep believing.

  19. Dear Father,
    My coach was talking to me about this guy “who looks like trouble” but he’s really nice. He said if I saw him in the city I would be like this guy is trouble. I didn’t wanna agree with him but he was directly talking to me and I didn’t wanna ignore him but I said yeah sort of just to say that but I knew I didn’t really agree with him because that’s stereotypical. I feel bad because I don’t know if I’m in Mortal sin. Please help me!

    FATHER JOE: Sorry, what you say is too convoluted for me to understand. In any case, if you truly do not know if you are in mortal sin then you probably cannot be in mortal sin. You cannot accidentally be in mortal sin. Grievous sin requires consent and/or deliberation.

  20. Can a catholic serve on a jury if the penalty for conviction is death?

    On one hand I feel like you would have to be truthful in voting for what the evidence shows. I’m not sure if they make you take an oath to that effect or not, but still, it is the cornerstone of our justice system. On the other, if everyone votes guilty, they will kill him/her.

    I just got a jury summons, and the last one I got was revealed to be a death penalty trial that never actually happened due to a last second plea deal as they were getting ready to impanel the jury.

    Hopefully if I get called it won’t be another death penalty issue, and if it is, hopefully they will ask about my conscience on the matter. But if not, what are my obligations here? Assuming I voice objections and somehow don’t get kicked, am I in trouble morally?

    FATHER JOE: A Catholic can serve on such a jury, but that does not mean that the lawyers or judges would not have something to say about it. I was asked by a judge as to whether my reservations about the death sentence would influence my judgment in a case. I had to be honest and said that it was likely. I was dismissed.

  21. Hello Father,
    At my college, which happens to be Catholic, we are having to read a book in my Young Adult Lit class that is a book exploring these two boys and them coming to terms with their homosexual identities. I wish I didn’t have to read it. But we have to take two quizzes on the book. Is it a sin for me to read this book and take the quizzes on it in class? If I were to ask the teacher to be exempt from reading this book, I don’t think she would let me.
    Thanks for your help

    FATHER JOE: I would suggest reading the book with a critical eye, even if it is under duress. Be prepared for possible rebuke if the testing asks for an evaluation of the text and its message. I am a firm believer that faithful Catholics must be prepared to hold their own in the college scene and the public forum. Many would prefer that we remain silent and not express our views as Christians.

  22. Hello Father. I have a question that’s been weighing on me for some time.
    At my Sunday school, one of the group leaders said that on Judgement Day God will judge us not only by our actions, but also our thoughts. She said that if we have sinned in our thoughts, we may as well have sinned in our actions. I know that I’ve sinned greatly in my thoughts–most of all in that I’ve felt sexual attraction towards some other girls I know. I would never act on this impulse, but am I a sinner for even feeling this way?

    FATHER JOE: It is true that we can sin in thought, word or deed. Sexual attraction and the pleasure that comes from pondering the joys of married life are generally not sinful. If we cross a line then such thoughts might be venial sins. Sinful thoughts are more than the things that pass quickly through our consciousness. Sinful thoughts are given deliberation and illicit pleasure or satisfaction is derived from them. For instance, sexual fantasies about someone’s spouse would constitute adultery in the heart. Another might ruminate about violence against a disliked person. Sometimes sinful thoughts are spoken… as when I guy says, “I would like to get her into my car back seat” or “I wish he were dead!”

  23. Father Joe,
    I appreciate the time and effort you devoting to addressing the questions and concerns posted here, as I’ve gained much insight over the last few years.
    I recently sent a monetary donation to my dear friend’s fiancée’s requested memorial for the Unity Church’s purchase of land to build a new church. A few weeks later, I was informed about this church’s belief system, which sounds the same as New Age. I regretted supporting such an effort, although my good intention was to honor my the deceased’s wishes.
    Have I sinned by my contribution to the expansion of this effort, and do I need to seek reconciliation through confessing my action?
    Thank you for your response.
    In the future, I will make myself much more aware of to whom and what I’m contributing my time, talent, and treasure.

    FATHER JOE: I don’t think you have sinned. But we should all be savvy with our money and resources.

  24. Great answer Father.

  25. Dear Father Joe,

    At my son’s Catholic school they send out a medical form to be completed by all the parents at the school. The form asks for allergies, past hospitalizations, the usual stuff, but it also asks that we tell the both our child’s “Biological Sex” and our child’s “Gender.” Are these people sick in the head? I expect this nonsense from a secular school but not from a “Catholic” school. Should I say something?

    FATHER JOE: Tell them he’s a boy on Tuesdays and Thursdays; a girl on Mondays and Wednesdays; a half-and-half on Fridays and Saturdays; and on Sundays he prefers not to say. Yes, it is silly. I would say something.

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