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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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  1. Hi Fr Joe,

    In connection with the “world in front of the text” of the overall Book and of Rev. 14:

    (1) How the Book of Revelation has been interpreted through the centuries…

    a. Which interpretations in the past have been problematic and why? (see the Middle Ages: Joachim of Fiore’s interpretation)

    b. What is “millennialism” and why has it been controversial?

    c. What is the real danger in interpreting symbols (such as “Babylon” in Rev. 14:8) as referring to a specific event?

    (2) In connection with Revelation 14 – and its depiction of violence (see Carmody, p. 304)

    a. In what ways can the depiction of violence in Revelation 14 be problematic? (see Crusades, the Inquisition)

    b. How can the depiction of violence in Revelation still be valid today?

    FATHER JOE:

    While Catholic churchmen certainly acknowledge that Christ will return, and that there will be a harvest of souls and judgment, we tend to shy away from attempting to interpret the many mysterious elements in the Book of Revelation. While the pagan emperor was viewed as an antichrist, there have been many antichrists throughout history and likely at the end of history. The Church, like her Lord, is opposed by the world. The heretical Montanists (135 AD to 177 AD) interpreted the Book of Revelation so as to expect Christ to return soon and establish a New Jerusalem in Asia Minor. The Hussite Taborites (15th century) interpreted Revelation as prescribing violence or insurrection as a prerequisite for the second coming. Anti-Catholic fundamentalism has imagined (based on a political view of the Apocalypse) all sorts of end-times scenarios from the 1960’s to the present.

    I would side with St. Augustine who argued against taking the Book of Revelation literally. Joachim of Fiore’s commentary was overly speculative and the utopian world under the Holy Spirit never materialized. (He argued for an age of the Father, of the Son and a third one under the Holy Spirit.) We may speak of our time as the age or as the season of the Holy Spirit, but the Church would not mean what he intended by the label.

    The theory of millennialism is that Jesus would have a thousand year earthly reign. While certain Catholic thinkers speculated about it, this notion is not an element of official Catholic teaching. However, a number of non-Catholics have picked up on the idea and teach this as a facet of their end-times scenario.

    The danger with interpretation throughout is demonstrated again and again as largely unreliable. Scripture should speak to us but many turn this around and read too much into the Book of Revelation. The Protestant reformers wrongly identified the papacy with the antichrist and the Catholic Church with the Whore of Babylon. It becomes an occasion for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and opposition to the house built by Jesus.

  2. My daughter is 16 and wants to be on birth control. My husband and I are against this. What should we do?

    FATHER JOE:

    First, while it might seem obvious, ask her why she wants birth control. Make sure that you know what is going on. Are there any medical reasons why she may need contraceptives to control menstrual pain and excessive bleeding? Is there a boy who is pressuring her to surrender her virginity? Is she already sexually active? Many young people would probably not even bring this up with parents. They would just do what they are going to do. The fact that she has opened up to you says volumes about how you have raised her. She is being honest with you. Be equally frank but also compassionate with her. The transformation from a child to an adult is not easy. If mistakes have been made, no matter how angry you might feel, let her know that she is loved and that you will always be willing to forgive and help her.

    Second, while you would not want her to become a teen mother, a Catholic Christian would become complicit with sin be paying for contraceptives and enabling, even if indirectly, a promiscuous lifestyle. She is living under your roof and as parents it is reasonable for you to want any minors to live by your values. What they do when they grow up and move out is up to them. Right now, they are dependent for you for clothes, shelter, food and money. Kids who are not yet able to take care of themselves should not be sexually engaged. Playing house is not the same as actually keeping one with hard work and sacrifice. Gauge, as best as you can, her current maturity as this will impact upon the advice you give and her capacity to understand and accept.

    Third, let her know that you love her and discuss the value of purity. Has she had any instruction on the theology of the body and why couples should wait until they are older (and married) before having intimate sexual relations. If she is a committed Christian, direct her attention to the bible passages that discuss the sin of fornication and how it can cost us a share in the kingdom of God. The ideal is not jumping from bed to bed but to find a stable long-term and committed relationship.

    Fourth, know that your stance will find opposition among her peers, teachers and others. She may even cite them against you. Remember that public schools regularly distribute condoms to youths and in several instances school nurses have assisted youths in getting abortions. They will argue that it is only natural that she wants to explore her sexual identity and that if you are “good” parents that you would “understand” and want to protect her. Little credence is given abstinence from this quarter. There will be an effort to “guilt” you into changing your minds. It may even be thrown into your face that you, as a couple, used contraception or became sexually active when younger. If such is the case, let her know that you only want her to avoid the mistakes you made. Let her know as well that women, with or without birth control, are often victimized and abused in promiscuous sexual relationships. They are frequently exploited and their dignity as persons is cheapened as no more than “meat” for men who place lust over (real) love.

    Fifth, discussions between a mother and daughter about sexuality can be opportunities for wonderful female bonding; but do not go along with the crowd that says a sixteen year old should initiate a carnal life. Talk to her about the joys of being a young woman and her natural attraction to boys. Speak frankly about helping young men to be their better selves and looking for a man that would respect her as a person and not simply want to exploit her body. Speak of the sacred elements of marriage as well as about the perils of teenage sex, especially about HIV and the venereal diseases that afflict millions of people. Sexual intimacy and the marital act should be directed to the fidelity of spouses and to the gift of life. It is horrendously corrupted when reduced to self-seeking pleasure and the pollution of the flesh. Sex should be directed to life. When misdirected, sex ushers forth death, either in diseases that afflict the partners or in the killing of children, either through direct abortion or through the abortifacient action of numerous contraceptives.

  3. Hi Father
    I am a member of the Pioneers and therefore we have taken the pledge of total abstinence for alcohol, narcotics and tobacco. I did this in my local Catholic church in Cork, Ireland. The other day my boyfriend bought us some xmas cakes with brandy butter on top of it. Is eating one of those breaking the Pledge do you know? I am not an alcoholic so alcohol won’t harm me but my family and I took the Pledge as part of the Irish temperance movement started back in the 1800s . So it is a religious pledge dedicated to the Sacred Heart. My boyfriend says it doesn’t count as it’s only a small bit of brandyin the buttercream but I’m not sure. I don’t want to break my Pledge. What do you think?

    FATHER JOE: I suspect it is okay.

  4. Revelation 18:2 Can you please clarify this passage? I thought all animals were considered clean? Why does it mention unclean birds and beasts in this apocalyptic Scripture?

    FATHER JOE: It is using Hebrew images for that which is unclean. Read Leviticus 11:13-19: “Of the birds, these you shall loathe; they shall not be eaten, they are loathsome: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, the kite, the various species of falcons, the various species of crows, the eagle owl, the kestrel, the long-eared owl, the various species of hawks, the little owl, the cormorant, the screech owl, the barn owl, the horned owl, the osprey, the stork, the various species of herons, the hoopoe, and the bat.”

  5. The ladies group leads the rosary before mass. What is the etiquette for me during this time. I arrive before mass but not before Rosary begins. I like time before mass to pray, bookmark the songs, read the readings and reflect on them prior to mass there is little time between end of Rosary and beginning of mass. I feel obligated to participate but then I don’t feel centered and focused during mass as I haven’t had my time before mass. Is it okay for me to not participate and do what I need to do before mass?

    FATHER JOE: It is a private devotion prior to Mass. You are free to prepare for Mass in a different way.

  6. Dear Father Joe,

    Thank you for your comments on Fr. Ken Roberts (Playboy to Priest, etc.). I realize the comments are closed for that post, but just wanted to say “Thank You” for an update on Fr. Roberts’ death. I met him at a Eucharistic Rosary Conference in St. Louis in 1993, and had the privilege of some excellent comments, suggestions, and ideas from the speakers there, as well as a “near miss” from a tornado coming down to just about the Arena (the site of the Conference), hovering, and returning to the sky. It was also filmed by a local TV crew, and reported as a miracle.

    I wasn’t sure of exactly what the reason for his removal from ministry, and I’ve often wished much of his material was still available, as it clearly taught lessons about our Faith. (The same is true of Fr. John Corapi, who is no longer in a ministry.) I believe the Church has lost some very good teachers, and pray for priests every day. I’m sure Satan is attacking you priests, because without priests to say Mass and consecrate hosts, we won’t have Jesus with us.

    There’s no need to reply to this comment, or to post it as a reply, but I’m certainly glad I found your blog site. Thank you for your vocation, and your perseverance in that vocation. God Bless you and your ministry!

    Pete McCue

  7. What is an acceptable release of sexual tension for teens? Adults? Outside of marriage of course.

    FATHER JOE: Outside of marriage the release of tension should bypass sexual sin. Exercise is something that many recommend. Prayer is good, too.

  8. Hi Fr Joe

    I was just reading proverbs and came across this Truth & Life App

    Proverbs 2:16-19

    16 You will be saved from the loose woman,from the adventuress with her smooth words,
    17 who forsakes the companion of her youthand forgets the covenant of her God;
    18 for her house sinks down to death,and her paths to the shades;
    19 none who go to her come back-nor do they regain the paths of life.

    So the last verse if we go to her would we not find the path back to life, even through confessions?

    FATHER JOE:

    The passage speaks of that which obstructs our search for wisdom, particularly deception from violent people. Next, a contrast to personified Wisdom is characterized as an alluring female. She is depicted as “a foreign woman” and unfit for marriage among them. While Wisdom leads us to truth and life, this Folly makes promises that she will not keep— lies where there should be truth and death instead of life. Within the marriage analogy, she is viewed as an adulteress. (Today, a priest would likely preach about this under the theme of fidelity to the Lord over the call of the secular world.)

    “From those who have left the straight paths to walk in the ways of darkness, Who delight in doing evil and celebrate perversity; Whose ways are crooked, whose paths are devious; Saving you from a stranger, from a foreign woman with her smooth words, One who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; For her path sinks down to death, and her footsteps lead to the shades. None who enter there come back, or gain the paths of life” (Proverbs 2:13-19).

  9. Father, what is the Church’s official stance on women working after marriage? Is it ok for a mother to continue her career if her children are in school and don’t need to be looked after all day? I’ve read several Catholic blogs that say women should not have jobs at all. If this is the church’s stance, does that mean it’s a sin for women to work unless it’s financially necessary? Also, does that they should not pursue higher education? If not, what should Catholic girls do before they are married?

    FATHER: While husbands and wives should be faithful to their vocations as fathers and mothers, there is no absolute Church prohibition about education and work outside the home.

  10. Fr Joe,
    Is it a sin to go out to eat on Sunday? I’ve also read that shopping on Sunday is a sin. We’ve gone out to eat on Sunday quite a lot, and opinions seem to vary all over the internet. I can’t imagine that a restaurant who had Sunday hours when they opened would be affected by my refusal to patronize them on Sunday. Being open on Sunday seems to be a permanent thing now for many businesses. But I don’t want to sin, so if it is, then I guess I will need to stop.

    FATHER JOE:

    I have responded to this question before.

    Look to the universal catechism:

    [2185] On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

    [CCC 2187] Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day. Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees.

    I would defer to Fr. William J. Byron, S.J. He writes: Your question raises the issue of what has traditionally been called “servile work.” Although Sunday is the first day of the week, not the seventh or “Sabbath,” the ancient practice of Sabbath rest has been carried over into the Catholic practice of refraining from ordinary weekday work on Sundays, i.e., reserving Sunday for rest, worship, and recreation. However, there is a lot of work for pay that simply has to be done on Sundays, and it is not at all sinful to do it. The planes, trains, and buses have to run on Sundays; the hospitals and restaurants have to be open to serve peoples’ needs. If employment obligations and economic circumstances permit you to rest on Sunday, you should, but neither should you worry if duty requires you to work.

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