• 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

    Michelle on Ask a Priest
    Liv on Ask a Priest
    Anon on Ask a Priest
    natalie on Ask a Priest
    Angelo 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!

aboutfrjoe

NEW MESSAGES/HOMILIES   CHRISTIAN REFLECTIONS   DEFENDING THE FAITH

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS   MARY OUR MOTHER

NEWMAN COLLEGE OUTLINES

3,996 Responses

  1. Hello Father,
    I am not a Christian but i have a genuine question about Christianity and I hope someone can answer me. I have an Orthodox christian boyfriend and he constantly tells me my religion is wrong and evil in an angry manner. I always read the bible with him and I always tell him that you’re supposed to be accepting of other religions as long as they’re not forcing it on you. I just wanted to know if according to Christianity it is a sin to discriminate against other religions (islam, judaism, Etc). Could you refer me to bible verses that discuss how christians should behave with people from different religions? Thank you so much for your time.

    FATHER JOE:

    While there are similarities, Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism are not the same and I cannot speak to whatever attitudes they might have toward those in other religions. Further, the New Testament gives a picture of early Christianity where Catholic Jews are stoned by order of the local Jewish leadership in Jerusalem and the converts in the Greek and Roman world are hunted down for imprisonment and martyrdom by imperial Rome. Therefore it is highly unlikely you would find verses that express a casual sharing of religious views. Every time a believer professes Jesus, he places his life on the line.

    Christianity has always been an evangelical or missionary religion— sharing the message of salvation and seeking converts. Throughout much of Christian history, the Church or at least members of the Church, could be quite harsh against those of other religions; however, behind much of this is an element of fear. While Islam might today resent the excesses of the Crusades; we should not forget that Islam once made huge inroads into Europe and violently shut off the routes to the Middle East so that pilgrims might not visit the holy sites.

    As a Knight of Columbus, I am mindful of the witness of our patron in the defense of Catholic Christianity. In Columbus’ day, Muslim expansion was seen very much like the Communist threat during our Cold War. The Ottoman Empire was swallowing up all of Christendom. Columbus was in the center of battle as the Spanish Christians reclaimed city after city. Finally, the followers of the Crescent were reduced to one city. When the triumphant Spanish army processed into Grenada, a great silver cross was raised over the Alhambra, and Ferdinand and Isabella knelt in the city square, giving thanks to God who after 781 years had evicted Islam from Spain. The date was January 2, 1492, and Columbus was there with them. Such historical elements weigh heavily for those Christians who know the legacy of faith. Your friend is Orthodox, and they saw many of their churches sacked and confiscated by the Muslims so as to be turned into mosques. They have known centuries of oppression that the Western Church was able to shake off. I suppose Christianity might have been more tolerant had it not always found itself under attack. Today there has been an escalation in violence from militant Islam and a new martyrdom of believers. What upsets many Christians is that there is often silence or a defensive attitude from the more progressive or moderate Muslims.

    While both Islam and Christianity were bound to clash as missionary religions; the Jews were no way near as evangelical with their outreach for converts. The growth of Judaism was often in the context of established families and many proved quite successful in their niches or European ghettos. While often associated with banking and finance, many Jews became famous in the arts and sciences. While oppressed, many found it possible to live in peace with Christians in Europe; however, this relationship remained tense as prejudices remained. Jewish faith was often wrongly associated with the occult and superstition. The language used by Catholics was heavily pejorative in their regard. They were maligned as the murders of Christ and as the people who killed their own prophets and finally the Messiah. Made the scapegoats for the poverty and ills faced by Germans and other Europeans, the rise of Hitler and the Nazis after the First World War would lead to the horrific tragedies of the holocaust.

    While there were Catholic bigots, such prejudice and villainy was regarded by the Church as satanic in origin. After Vatican II, no longer would we refer to the “perfidious Jews” but to our Jewish brothers and sisters, “the first to hear the word of God.” We would pray that they would continue “to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant.” Pope Benedict XVI would remind us to pray that all, even the Jews, might come to a saving faith in Jesus. Today we pray at the revised Good Friday liturgy: “Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men. Almighty and eternal God, who want that all men be saved and come to the recognition of the truth, propitiously grant that even as the fullness of the peoples enters Thy Church, all Israel be saved.” We pray for the conversion of all. However, we seek to be instruments of the Holy Spirit in such conversion, not with the sword, but with dialogue and prayer.

    I am not sure what to say about a boyfriend who angrily tells you (to your face) that your religion is wrong and evil. You never identify your religion. Many religions mix truth and error. And yes, there are some faith professions that might be catalogued as wicked or evil. I cannot say if his evaluation is correct.

    Maybe you need to find another boyfriend? Religion is important and it can be either a great support or a hindrance in a relationship. The issue even divides Christians, as when Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants marry.

    Many people do not take their religion seriously enough. Religion is more important than politics and more an expression of one’s identity than any club. It provides the framework in which we see the world and find meaning. Speaking for Catholicism, I can say this:

    (1) Catholics believe that faith and baptism make possible spiritual regeneration where original sin and personal sin is forgiven. We are given sanctifying grace which is necessary for entry into heaven. We are members of the Church, temples of the Holy Spirit and adopted sons and daughters to the heaven Father . . . thus kin to our elder brother Christ who is God-made-Man, Lord and Savior. We are connected to a communion of the saints. Remade into the likeness of Christ we are one in the Lord. The sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist, nourish and heal us with the abiding presence of the risen Christ. Sins are forgiven. Our Lord has conquered death and we hope for a share in eternal life. Faith in Christ is measured in terms of obedience and charity. Jesus reveals the face of God, the triune mystery. There in a nutshell is the faith and it is so precious that Catholics want others to have what they regard as their great treasure. It may be that your boyfriend loves you and is struggling with how he might bring you into a relationship with Christ and the family of faith. If there were a marriage then he would logically also want his children to be baptized and to know Christ. It is this element that non-Christians fail to fully appreciate or that they find in conflict with their own beliefs.

    (2) Catholicism at its heart would seek to live in peace with others. But we believe that ours is the true Church instituted by Christ by which men are to be saved. There is no getting around what some might deem intolerant. It was this abiding faith that moved many of the ancient believers to die rather than to betray their faith. If Catholic Christianity is a true supernatural religion (accepting the revelation of the Trinity) then the most one could say for Judaism is that God keeps his promises (one covenant between Christians and Jews) and that they have a natural religion that is the precursor for Christianity. Islam is also a natural religion but would arise centuries later with Muhammad and his amalgamation of Christianity, Judaism and the various local tribal cults.

    How much a part of you is your faith? Does it express your basic identity? I so, then you boyfriend hates something that makes you who you are. This is serious and why the Church generally prohibits mixed religions when it comes to marriage. Further, discrimination is often reciprocal. Not all religions are the same. Not everyone can be right. Even if marriage should prove impossible; it is important that we find ways to live together in this world as friends and in peace. Christians should have the same freedom to worship and to share their faith in the Middle East as we allow Moslems to have with their temples and faith in the West. Judaism remains a true religion like Catholicism in that Abraham is the father in faith for us all. If there were no Judaism then there would be no Catholicism. Every Catholic is a spiritual Semite.

    While my answer may have rambled somewhat, it is not regarded as a sin for Catholicism to discriminate against other religions. While we would acknowledge religious liberty, there is never a denial of our view about the uniqueness of Catholicism and its values.

    If there are any pertinent Scripture verses then this is it:

    Matthew 28:18-20 – “Then Jesus approached and said to them, ‘All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.’”

  2. Hello Father. I’m a teenage girl and I’m going to college this year. I’m a little worried about the possibility of meeting boys and whether or not that will lead me towards sinful behavior. Is it a sin to kiss someone on their lips? I’m afraid that when I find a significant other who I feel strongly about I’ll feel tempted. Why is it a sin to do what feels natural and right (for example, acting on our physical urges).
    I also have another question about contraception in marriage. My friend’s mother is a devout Catholic and she has 8 children. What happens if a couple only wants a few children, or can’t afford a large family. Should they refrain from intimacy completely? Wouldn’t the frigidness of chastity in marriage ruin a healthy relationship?
    Thank you for answering my questions, Father.

    FATHER JOE:

    More than a possibility, you will meet boys in college. It is not always a sin to kiss on the lips but neither should kisses be given away too freely. There are many physical urges that can become sinful. We all need to eat and drink. But some overeat and others become addicted to alcohol. Animals tend to pursue their urges with little self-control. Human beings have souls and are defined as rational animals. We can make judgments about when and where and to what extent certain actions should be pursued. This is important to our health and general well-being. Sexual expression also has its time and place, within the sacred covenant of marriage.

    While all teens and young adults should use caution in college; females in particular are the most at risk. Young boys are not yet mature men and are often at odds with their own biology. Good boys do not even fully trust themselves. Many young girls experience date-rape. It is important for women to set the parameters for dating or courtship. A woman should demand that men would treat her with courtesy and respect. Otherwise, the young men will often take matters as far as they can go. Women are also struggling with biological changes and hormones. However, given that they are the ones that nature has chosen to get pregnant; it is imperative that they demand moral virtue and discipline of the men with which they keep company. This sounds old fashioned but the current culture that pampers fornication has also opened doors to contraception, abortion and adultery. We are told by Scripture (see Matthew 7:15-20) that “you shall know them by their fruits.” There will be many prophets from among peers and professors in college. Be alert. You will make mistakes but try not to make those that would damage or destroy future hopes and plans like marriage and family life. That which is given away too readily will be judged as having little value. Be a woman of good character and faith.

    Catholicism defines marriage as openness to children. There is no demand that couples have as many children as possible. However, they should always be open to this gift even as they are responsible in their roles as spouses and parents. The Church permits natural family planning as a means of both getting pregnant and for the spacing of births. While some abstention is in the mix, there are also other ways to show affection and love outside of the marital act. Indeed, while some might regard sexuality as basic mechanics; Catholicism would view it as part of a larger template of love in an intimate relationship between persons. Courtship and romance should never cease for lovers. Theirs is a companionship that includes sharing a home and filling it with children— with a profound self-donation in the marriage bed— with walks in the park, sharing meals and watching sunrises and sunsets— with laughing and crying with each other— and with kneeling side-by-side in churches while saying prayers. If you are a believer, then you want to share your body not with many men but one man. You want a love that will last a lifetime, a person with whom you can share both the joys and sorrows of life, and ultimately the person who will be your helpmate in becoming holy. It is love that will bring you together. It is love that will take you to the gates of heaven and the marriage feast of Christ— as saints.

  3. Fr Joe,
    I’m supposed to go to mass tomorrow. We watched a movie about Mary Queen of Scots tonight. During that there was a scene where she and her husband have sex. He wasn’t into it and she was obnoxious about it so she could get her heir. Anyway, here I sit, wondering if that falls in the realm of demeaning the human person or pornography, thus making me ineligible for communion? I dis not know this scene would be there, and I didn’t pick the movie for that purpose.

    FATHER JOE:

    You might do well in the future to check out the movie reviews at the Catholic News Service sight. Mary Queen of Scots (Focus) –is classified as “L” or “limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.” The Motion Picture Association of America rates the film as “R” or “restricted, under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.”

    If you feel that you gave bad witness or crossed a boundary about decency and modesty, then make a good act of contrition, go to Mass and take communion, and mention the film when you go to confession. Over the years, despite money spent, I can recall a number of times when I walked out on a movie that proved morally offensive. What stops a person from turning off the television or changing the channel or taking out the video disc? In any case, I have not seen the film and cannot say much more about it.

  4. Hi, Fr Joe. I’m asking this for my upcoming confession. I feel like I committed a mortal sin but I can’t remember if I actually did it or not. Should I confess it?

    FATHER JOE: Sometimes I have to wonder if the questions that come to me are legitimate or whether there is a level of scrupulosity that borders on ridiculous. Not only are you in doubt as to whether something you have committed is a mortal sin; you are asserting that you are not even sure that you did it in the first place. How could you even begin to confess something that you likely never did? Are you subject to false memories? Do you regularly have hallucinations? I will refrain from saying anymore for fear of being uncharitable.

  5. Dear Fr. Joe,

    I am sorry if this question sounds like I am being scrupulous. I went to confession today. Everything seems normal and the priest’s advice was to pray the rosary. I mention this just to say the priest seemed orthodox. The absolution words were all what I have heard hundreds of times before, except at the end instead of saying “…and I absolve you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” he said “…and I FORGIVE you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Was this a valid absolution, and if not should I be concerned that my sins were not forgiven. Thank you for your ministry.

    FATHER JOE:

    The question is not about being scrupulous but serious about the sacrament. When giving the absolution in English the word “absolve” is part of the formula. The priest does not have the authority to change it. Are you sure that you heard correctly? Maybe he added words so that you would understand what he was doing for you? Certain Episcopal priests and Lutheran ministers will also offer a sacramental if not the sacrament of penance. Because Protestant theology has a problem with seeing the priest act “in the person of Christ” many of their ministers will say that “Jesus forgives you” or that “your sins are forgiven.” They are affirming the mercy of the cross as a past event. This is very different from the Catholic understanding that the particular priest is personally empowered to forgive sins here-and-now.

    You went to confession in good faith and I would not worry about rushing back to another priest. Repeat what you feel you need to repeat the next time you go to confession. There are many ways by which sins are forgiven but you are still entitled to the sacrament and its graces. If you are certain that the priest changed the formula; you might speak to him outside the sacrament. The problem with speaking to another priest is that in such situations a priest cannot defend himself. Many of us take a rigorist position regarding the seal— that the priest should not speak about anything that goes on during confession. However, if he is routinely altering the formula then some form of intervention might be necessary— not to say what he is doing or not doing— but to remind him and all priests that they must keep the absolution formula intact.

    Extending the right hand and making blessing with the sign of the cross at the end…

    “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

  6. Dear, Fr Joe.

    This is a bit of a weird question but is it a mortal sin if you tried to do a mortal sin but then found out that what you were trying to do was physically unpossible?

    FATHER JOE: I do not even want to imagine what you were trying to do. Remember that we can sin in though, word and deed. Desiring to sin and attempting to do wrong still constitutes sin. If the matter is gravely wrong then the sin would still be mortal.

  7. Father…is it a sin to watch videos on YouTube that do not come from their original source? In other words, let’s say I wanted to watch an old TV interview with my favorite sports figure. The interview originally aired on ESPN, but it was uploaded by Joe Schmo. There are so many videos on YouTube that were downloaded and uploaded by people who are not the original owners of the content. I have even seen documentaries that are no longer available for purchase uploaded on to YouTube. YouTube will remove videos that have copyright infringement if it is reported. Some of these videos have been on there for several years, though, and have never been removed.

    FATHER JOE: The responsibility on a site like YouTube is pretty much with the owners of the website. It is too difficult for the viewer to discern whether each and every video has proper backing on the site. Many television news organizations even encourage clips of their reporting as a form of free advertisement. Similarly, a documentary might be shared on YouTube in a valid way but you as a viewer are not privy to the fact that Joe Schmo is sometimes the owner of the material that appeared on HBO or on video. YouTube today is both a paid and a free service. Organizations that do not want their programming on YouTube are in constant communication with such sharing sites and they also use search engines (not just Google) to find and in some cases to remove their material. There are many problematic issues about uploading videos, even personal ones, to the internet. I think the gravity in terms of wrongdoing is with those who purloin material to which they have no rights. Of course, there are even legal fights over material that has passed into the public domain. As an avid old time radio collector, much material in the past would have been totally lost if it were not for fans seeking to preserve old shows. When a matter is somewhat dubious, you are probably okay with looking at a video online. If the material is clearly stolen, like the latest Star Wars movie presented with mono sound and blurry video; it would be more ethical to pass it by and to spend a few dollars on a legitimate Blu-ray copy.

  8. Hey, Father. I’m 14 years old and will be confirmed in about a month. I’m in a state of mortal sin and need to confess my sins before confirmation, but I’m afraid to confess the things I did. I’m also afraid that if I don’t confess, I won’t receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit until I confess, even though the confirmation would still be valid. Any advice on what to do, I could use the help?

    FATHER JOE:

    What does it mean to be confirmed? The faith speaks of confirmation as the completion of one’s initiation into the Church. The Eastern churches follow the ancient pattern of making it the anointing following infant baptism. The Western churches separated it from baptism, allowing the bishop an opportunity to give a sacrament to most if not all of God’s people. This separation has given the Catholic in the West an opportunity to claim in a sacramental way the faith that was given to him or her as a child. The faith of the apostle’s creed is affirmed and there is a renunciation of Satan. We used to speak of the sacrament as an opportunity to embrace an adult faith and to become a soldier for Christ. My father scared me when I was confirmed. After I had received the sacrament, he turned to me and said, “You know what you have done, don’t you?” I said, “What?” He continued, “Now that you are confirmed, you can go to hell.” I was taken aback by his words. What he meant was that for now on I would be judged by God as an adult, not a child. Children commit venial sins. Adults are the ones who go to hell. The more we have been given, the more for which we will be held accountable.

    We live at a time when Christians are mocked here at home and increasing martyred around the world. Are you prepared to be a sign of contradiction? It is time to step up and to be courageous. The issue is more than a fear of confession but about cowardice in being a Christian. Put in other words, the question is less about confession and more about whether you truly want to be a confirmed believer.

    We have believers who are professing their faith in Christ and their membership in his Church while knives are being held against their throats. Meanwhile you are afraid to tell the priest that you inappropriately touched yourself, or looked at dirty pictures or took something insignificant that did not belong to you. Grow up! Let me say it again. Grow up! Everyone watches these made-up superheroes at the movie theaters when we need real-life heroes of the faith in the church pews. If you are afraid to admit personal faults to a priest who loves you in Christ and who wants to shower you with mercy and grace; then how will you fare when we must face all the evils of men and the hordes of hell? The time of decision is now. There is no moment to waste. Whose side will you be on?

  9. Hi,

    Is it wrong to go to a Hindu wedding in a temple? I have a feeling it is, because it involves supporting the worship of false gods, in the sense that by showing up for the wedding you are endorsing what is happening there.

    FATHER JOE: Given that the marriage would be valid— likely not involving a Catholic— then you could attend such a service. However, you are right that the Catholic should not participate in any of the rites, songs or prayers. Indeed, you might quietly take out your rosary and pray for the couple during the service. While not a sacrament, the Church might recognize such a bond as a natural marriage (given unbaptized persons).

  10. I have suffered with scrupulosity in the past and have come a long way. I was wondering, some people make impulsive decisions in their head like “if the next newspaper article has to deal with the economy I know you probably want me to do this God.” Or “God, if the time on my clock ends with a 5 I will take that as a sign I should do this.”. This is very impulsive and not thought out. Does God work like this or should we ignore this impulsive thoughts that God definitely wants us to do something based on this. I doubt it but I don’t want to be disobedient to God if he actually is communicating with me.

    FATHER JOE: What you call impulsive is really a problem with giving untenable interpretations to detached associations. There is nothing that connects an article or the time with divine providence. Divine signs are much more obvious. I am not a doctor and thus would be the last person to give answers about personality disorders and psychosis. If such things fill a person’s daily thoughts then I would urge him or her to see (or to continue to see) a psychiatrist or professional counselor.

  11. Fr Joe,
    I just came from confession and I remembered something that I don’t think I’ve ever confessed. I used to watch “Suits”, a lawyer show. I really liked it, but they used the Lord’s name in vain quite a lot. It bothered me, but I still watched the show. It had fornication and other things like crime in it, too, but I figured real people do these things, so watching a show where they are represented wouldn’t be sinful unless it induced me to that lifestyle, which it did not.

    Now I wonder if it was sinful to watch 7 seasons of that show. And if so, is it grave enough to be a mortal sin and preclude me from communion? I tried to remember to mention it during confession and ask, but I didn’t. Perhaps I need to start making a list and bringing it with me.

    FATHER JOE: I am unfamiliar with the show and so can make no moral assessment. There are many entertaining shows today that are unfortunately spiced with unnecessary elements. Probably for most there is no sin or at most a venial transgression. However, I must offer the corrective that the level of vulgarity and obscenity in television programing seems to be on the rise. Programs that demean the human person constitute sinful matter. Pornography is regarded as mortally sinful. That which was almost universally condemned is now finding its way into our homes. There is an effort to make such trash mainstream or normative.

  12. Hi Father,

    I got my permit a while ago. During the eye test, my eyes became kinda cross eyed at one point, so I closed one eye and just read w/ one of ’em for that period. Now I’m worried ’cause that seems a dishonest way of getting a permit. So now I’m like “Do I have to get a new one?”. I’m pretty sure my eye are fine and I could see the letters my eye just became cross eyed at one point. Is there a catholic teaching for why I should get a new one or not use the one I’ve got?

    FATHER JOE: I am sure the people who devised the test took such eventualities into consideration and that you did indeed pass. You are probably dealing with too intense a scrupulosity about your actions. Scrupulosity is often linked to a heightened sense of anxiety in regard to obligations and toward what is right and wrong. Self-reflection and prayer can help you root this out of your life. We all second-guess ourselves sometimes, especially about major matters; however, we should not sweat the small things or to allow the self-doubt to destroy a sense of joy for life.

  13. Hi Fr Joe,

    As Catholics, do we believe that we only have to be free from mortal sin when we die to make it to Heaven and receive salvation? What about our imperfections or tendencies to fall into the same sin or sins?

    If a person dies immediately coming out of Confession, but has continued struggles with gossiping, stealing, telling lies, judging others, sins against chastity, or some combination of these as an example, would they still go straight to Heaven? Or, even if we are free from mortal sin and have recently left the Confessional, if we have those imperfections, would we end up in Purgatory first?

    Another way I think to ask is, in order to be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven, do we need to be free of Mortal sin at the time of death AND be free of all attachments and tendencies to fall into repetitive sin? Or do we only have to be free of Mortal sin?

    Thank you,
    Lauren

    FATHER JOE: All the poor souls in purgatory are free from mortal sin. After death, the fire of divine love purifies them from venial faults, the residual tendency to sin and the temporal punishment of sin. They are made perfect for heaven. Confession makes possible the forgiveness of sin and the gift of grace, both actual and saving. However, the absolution does not make us spiritually perfect— just forgiven.

  14. Hi Father,

    I’ m trying to increase/improve my knowledge of the Faith; so that I may be able to defend it better and teach my children better. Do you know of any website that provides lessons that can help me?

    FATHER JOE:

    Go to the horse’s mouth. You will find the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH at the Vatican website:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

    The Supreme site for the Knights of Columbus offer many informative $1 booklets. Many of these can be read as pdfs online.

    https://www.kofc.org/en/cis/index.html

  15. I hope this is an appropriate forum for such a detailed question- I am hoping for moral guidance. I live in an apartment and my next door neighbor did illegal construction which seems to have resulted in asbestos in my apartment. The asbestos might be due to background levels or it might be from the construction dust that repeatedly entered my space- that is being determined. As a breast cancer survivor, this has been a source of great anxiety for me. Anyway, during the construction (which is now over), I hired somebody to do asbestos testing and subsequently learned that, not only did this person run the test completely incorrectly according to the State, but that they are also unlicensed (I’m told that licenses are required for asbestos testing).  I am very disturbed when I think that the possible asbestos contamination could have been caught months ago had this person been qualified. I spent alot of money with this person and in general because of this construction. Somebody had suggested that I tell this individual that they should either refund me the money I spent with them (atleast for the asbestos test) or I will report them to the Department of Labor for operating without a license. I was considering doing that until I wondered about whether or not that was extortion?  I would think it is; but, in a sense, I’m just asking for my own money back. However, giving an ultimatum like that seems like it could be sinful. Would that be a mortal sin?
    Thank you, Father!!

    FATHER JOE: It seems to me that you are asking the wrong questions. Given a possible issue with asbestos, it was the responsibility of your neighbor or the landlord to do the required testing. Why is it that you had to hire someone? What were your criteria (written) when he was employed? Unless the person purported to be licensed and qualified for asbestos, then the fault rests with you. There are various types of licenses and certifications for private contractors or handymen. It seems to me that your grievance is not with the contractor you hired but with your neighbor and his construction. But, are you sure that it raised asbestos levels? Who is giving you all the negative information that is troubling you? If the work resulted in collateral damage against you personally (your health) then it is your neighbor whom you should address.

  16. i confess every week and attend mass 4 times a week ( i work full time) and pray for more than an hour a day. i am a counsellor with families of children who are dying. My husband left me and took our daughter who is 4. Why won’t God stop me from drinking i’ve asked.

    FATHER JOE:

    I am not sure what you mean. Are you implying that since you pray, go to Mass and help others that God should bless you with a happy life and sobriety?

    It is wonderful that you do many good things; but there is no bargaining with God. The measure of the cross may vary for each of us but the command is the same: take up your cross and follow the Lord. You may have a genuine addiction or the drinking may be a symptom of your personal struggles. Ultimately, you do not stop because you have chosen not to do so. God will help you, especially if you surrender yourself to his providence and power. However, to do that one has to let go of any anger and resentment. We live in a broken world and the best of us are wounded healers. We try to make a difference but there is much in the way of loss and pain with which we must learn to live.

  17. Hello! I have a “unique” question. Can a Godfather designation be annulled? Here’s the situation. My best friend was murdered. He has a teen daughter, whom I am now helping to care for… but the young girl’s Godfather is her father’s murderer! Oy. I researched, and read that Godfather designation cannot be annulled after Confirmation… and she was just confirmed last year. Is that a strict rule… or could I petition the girl’s parish priest and/or the archbishop for an exception? I’m in New York City. The girl lives with her Godmother now; and I would like to replace the murderer with myself as her Godfather. Any advice? Thank you! 🙂

    FATHER JOE:

    There is some confusion on your part. Sometimes it is not possible for a godparent from baptism to also serve as a confirmation sponsor; in such cases another person can be chosen. However, that in no way negates or annuls the godparent who witnessed the baptism. The role of godparent is permanent. That is one of the reasons why we urge parents to use great care in the selection of godparents. If married the bond should be recognized by the Church. They should practice their faith by participating at Mass and living a moral life. Parents should never deliberately seek to create a spiritual relationship between their child and someone in mortal sin, no matter how close a friend or family member they might be. Of course, none of us have crystal balls to read the future. Hence, the dire situation you describe.

    You might serve the role of an honorary or unofficial godfather, praying for the child and making sure that she is properly watched over. Similarly, you can ask for her prayers as one who cares about her. While it is probably too much to ask the girl; you might seek to keep your friend’s killer in your prayers. As terrible as the situation is, grace can change the hearts of the worst sinners. I do not know what if any communication there will be with the killer; but hopefully, he will find remorse and pray for the man he killed and the little girl whom he has deprived of a father.

  18. I went to confession on Thursday afternoon to prepare for first Friday. I noticed that each of the people ahead of me were in and out of the confessional in less than a minute. Each had a curious look on their face.

    When I entered I had intended to confess face-to-face. But as I walked around the partition the priest said to “go to the screen” which I did. Before I kneeled the priest began and then said “what are your sins?” I not begun with the statement of when my last confession was.

    I was taken aback but began. After I had finished with two of my transgressions, the priest began telling me that tomorrow is first Friday. Then he said that many people had taken time from work. Then said my sins were forgiven. Then mumbled “one Our Father” (as penance) and was finished. No Act of Contrition.

    I had not finished my confession. I was very confused and unsettled, feeling unfulfilled for not having confessed all of my sins.

    I left the confessional, said an Act of Confession and left the church.

    I understand that my confession and absolution were valid, yet It took me time to come to terms with this. Never have I had such an experience.

    I got the feeling that the priest wanted to be sensitive to those who might have left work to go to confession. But I don’t know if that was the reason. Or perhaps because Spanish is his first language.

    I thought briefly that I should call the pastor but decided against that and went on.

    Is this confession experience unusual? Leaving me without the opportunity to fully confess was/is troubling.

    FATHER JOE:

    I wish I could say that such is entirely unfamiliar news to me but such rushed confessions are not unusual. I cannot know for sure what his reasons were but I suspect it had to do with a line of penitents and limited time to hear confessions. As a confessor, I often urge penitents to make a decisive examination of conscience, accentuating the most grievous sins. It is recommended that venial sins be confessed but unlike mortal sins such is not mandatory. Some penitents wander in their confessions mixing venial and mortal sins. Others want to give their trespasses with all the sordid details. The confessor wants to hear the mortal sins and if there are none the venial sins but just with sufficient details so he will understand their gravity. He does not want to hear an hour of random thoughts or the full story behind every sin. The confessional is not spiritual direction or ministerial counseling. If a person wants that they should make a special appointment with the priest.

    A rule of thumb is that confessions should move at about five minutes a person. I can remember panicking years ago when I found myself abandoned by the other confessors (after an hour) just before a whole new line formed at a penance service. Alone I went about six hours hearing confessions. There are situations where penitents have sacrificed their lunch hour for Mass and confessions. The priest desperately does not want anyone to leave without absolution. They have come in good faith and he prays that penitents appreciate the situation and are willing to move with him so that no soul will be left in mortal sin.

    Another such practice in these situations is to lead those who are waiting or in the church with a communal act of contrition that would not need to be repeated in the confessional. Is it possible that you missed it? I can also sympathize with the priest’s use of the screen. Face-to-face not only makes it harder for the priest to forget the sins of others but slows down the sacrament of penance.

  19. Is it ok to donate organs after death? I am a cradle faithful Catholic. Thanks.

    FATHER JOE:

    The short answer to your question is YES. Catholics are permitted to donate organs after death; indeed, this is regarded as a noble act that acknowledges something of the solidarity that should exist between us as fellow human beings living in community. Having said this, Church ethicists do raise a few concerns. First, the donor or appointed proxy must give explicit consent. Second, the donor must truly be regarded as deceased. This second point is often a matter of some argument.

    Acknowledging competent authority, the Magisterium gives the responsibility to doctors and scientific researchers to determine to precise moment of death. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences defines clinical death as follows: “a person is dead when there has been total and irreversible loss of all capacity for integrating and coordinating physical and mental functions of the body as a unit” (1989).

  20. Father, you tell me if this is weird 1 I had a nightmare 2 My living room smelled like blood we checked everywhere but could not find the source 3 When we where in the car a engine symbol popped up the cars stoped working 4 My Cousin vomited 5 My Grandpa was sent to the hospital Father when the engine sign came up first we took it to a repair shop and the engine symbols was there we we went to drop the car Of for repair but this time the engine symbol that pops up in our car turned off and the car started I told my sister and uncle not to play this scary game but they did not listen Father please suggest what I do.

    FATHER JOE: You have listed a series of coincidences and then speak about a scary game— what game? Phantosmia or olfactory hallucinations can be caused by many things. It is also possible that a rodent has died in your wall. Life is filled with its ups and downs. I doubt there is any supernatural agency playing with your engine light. My suggestion is for you to ease up, say your prayers, have your car maintenance and move on.

  21. Can Catholics go to bars or a club? I’m a college student and am 21, and so I want to go to this bar near me just to have fun, but drink moderately. Does it look bad for me to be there though if other people see me there who know I’m Catholic? I’m just not sure. Thanks for your help.

    FATHER JOE: There are bars and then there are bars. Even priests may go to bars, especially if there is a restaurant section. I often patronize an Irish institution, with a fully operating bar, regular Irish singers and a mouth-watering Jameson steak. There is a bar in the city that has a program called Theology on Tap where Catholic speakers talk about the faith to young adults. (Obviously, if it is a seedy hook-up place or catering exclusively to gays or offering immodest entertainment, it would be off-bounds.)

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