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.
Hello, Father. I would like to know if you received my question. If not, here it is:
Are there any exceptions about not performing abortions? What could be done if a mother or/and her unborn child were to die due to a complicated pregnancy? Even more extreme, the mother is a much needed leader in the world.
FATHER JOE: Human life has an incommensurate value. Everyone is precious and irreplaceable. The trouble is that many do not view the unborn as human persons with dignity and rights. While the principle of double-effect might apply in cases such as cancer, there are no exceptions about the immorality of abortion. Doctors would be obliged to do all they can to save both patients. Remember, abortion is defined as the direct killing of an unborn human being. A more frequent scenario where this question emerges is among families in country facing starvation. Would you starve your “born” child so that you might live? Would not a good mother give her last crumb of bread to her child before doing such a thing?
Hi, I’m a Catholic from RSA. My mother is Catholic and my father never went to church until he passed away in 2004, and because of this they never had sacramental marriage. Though my mother was a baptised catholic she only went to church sometimes. After my father’s death, she became more serious in church and she was trying join St Anne’s sodality. The then Priest in my parish of St Alphons told my mother a month before the official welcoming of new members that she can’t join the st Annes because her marriage was not recognised by the church. And if she wishes to join the St Annes she must get married and she told the priest that her husband has been dead for 3 years how can that be possible. the priest told her to bring her boyfriend or go wake his husband and get married in the church. And That broke my mother she was constantly crying 😢 because she had just started healing from the passing of my father. Then she just stopped going to church, my sisters also stopped and my brother left the church, because of what the priest / church said to mom. And they were also telling me that I should be siding with my mom instead of siding with the church. But I was not siding with anyone I was just going to church every Sunday bcz that is how I was raised. Even though I thought that the issue should have been handled in a better way. I am the only member of the the church in my family because of an inconsiderate person in my opinion. Was there any other way in which the situation should have been handled rather than “get a boyfriend or wake your dead husband and get married “? I am still in the church because I told myself that was not my battle to fight. I can’t say the same about my siblings. It hurts because I don’t know when I die if they will let the church celebrate the in my funeral. What was the right way to handle the issue
Are you sure about everything he said? If what you say be true, then the priest is utterly incompetent. Are you sure he is a real priest? If so, you are within your rights to take the matter to another priest or even the bishop.
First, even if your father were alive, Pope Francis would insist that you have a right to belong to a parish and that you be welcome to attend Sunday Mass.
Second, any irregular union between your mother and father ended with death. Marriage is for the living, not the dead. Having a wake for your father will not make what they had into a retroactive sacramental marriage.
Third, widowed women (even if the unions were outside the Church) do not have to find a boyfriend to marry in order to join a parish or a parish sodality.
All your mother needs to do is go to Confession and return to the practice of her faith. If this priest tries to prevent her then there is something devilish going on. Tell your family that the problem here is not the Church but this peculiar priest. Report the matter to authorities. This is a primary violation of a priest’s duty as a pastor of souls. Tell your family that you explained the matter to another priest and he said (given everything is as you say) that they have every right to be angry. But the proper response is not to flee the Church but to make sure that the errant priest is corrected, and if need be, disciplined by his bishop.
I will be praying for you. Let me know what happens. God bless you!
Can you explain this?
“The Vatican has rejected as “more smoke than fire” a BBC documentary to be screened Monday, which promises to probe the late Polish pontiff John Paul II’s romantic liaison with married, Polish-born philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka. “The Secret Letters of Pope John Paul II” sheds new light on the pope’s emotional ties with Tymieniecka, who kept every shred of paper and celluloid related to her 32-year friendship with John Paul II.”
FATHER JOE: No one in the know questions the Holy Father’s constant celibacy. There were a couple of women who were close friends and associates of his. However, those who would paint these friendships as romantic or sexual are in the wrong. Just because a man is a priest, bishop or pope, does not mean that he alienates or utterly separates himself from friendships with half of the human race.
Father, I hate the people with whom I work. I really am not crazy about my sister.
FATHER JOE: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21).
I am a drug addict who loves her drugs. I steal pills and lie. I have surrounded my life with pills and anger. I am not willing to change.
FATHER JOE: “So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with my mind, serve the law of God but, with my flesh, the law of sin” (Romans 7:21-25).
But am praying, never miss Mass and I am an adorer in the chapel for years. What can I do?
FATHER JOE: Love even when it is difficult. Keep hope alive. Give your addiction and anger to God so that it might be healed and you might be transformed. Stop holding back.
my name is Amber Jones and I am an A-Level pupil in St. Brigid’s School in Denbigh. I am completing my Religious studies A-Level, however, I have come unstuck on a certain aspect of my studies and i was wondering if you would be able to help me. The area in question is whether a belief in life after death is necessary for religious believers and to what extent to Christians value its importance.
Thank you for taking the time to read my email and i would be grateful of any guidance.
FATHER JOE: Most (but not all) religions posit some sort of existence after death. The early Jews saw their reward in family, property and prosperity. However, as with the story of suffering Job in the Old Testament, this prospect fell short. Sometimes bad people seemed to flourish and good people suffered. Given that there is a good God then where was justice? An afterlife where sin is punished and virtue is rewarded would made better sense. The resurrection and promises of Christ confirmed this truth. Love is stronger than the grave. Love always makes possible life. We have a desire to live and to know reunion with those we have lost. God makes it possible to satisfy this desire that he implanted in the human heart. St. Paul said that if there were no resurrection, then Christians would be the most foolish of people. But we are fools for Christ. Life after death is the hook of Christianity. It is the reason why many believe. We have not been abandoned by God. Everyone matters and is loved and called to an eternal destiny.
I know an Episcopalian who is disheartened with their church and goes to Catholic Church !
Is it a sin for them to receive communion , they say it’s not s sin under episcopal definition ?!
So is sin defined by your church not another?
Thanks , peace be with you !
FATHER JOE: If the person prefers worshiping as a Catholic then he or she should become a Catholic. Other churches or organizations have no say or authority over Catholic laws and practices. This is basic common sense.
Hello Father Joe,
I have a question regarding Revelations 22: 18-19. The passage forbids adding or subtracting from the message of the prophecy. As a writer I am writing a novel inspired by the end times. However I am reluctant to continue as I by no means wish to jeopardized my relationship with God. I think of other works inspired by the book of Revelations such as the left behind series and I wonder is it wrong for to produce and consume such forms of entertainment? Thank you in advanced Father for your guidance on this matter. God bless!
FATHER JOE: You should just delineate that it is fiction.
First, thank you for offering this service. I don’t know why I didn’t think to look for it before now.
Here is the problem I find myself having. It requires a bit of background information, for which I apologize in advance.
I have a history of trauma that causes me to be extremely careful and extremely risk-averse. I have always wanted a relationship with the Divine in some way.
One day, I was listening as someone in my family was watching a religious program. A woman was preaching, telling a story about how she gave her life to God. She said as soon as she gave her life over to God’s will, she more or less went bankrupt, lost everything, and ended up living out of her car with her family. This absolutely terrified me, and I have been scared to pray or really have anything to do with spirituality ever since.
I don’t know what my actual question is, but can you provide any guidance, or even just comfort about this issue? What am I supposed to do? Is that stuff going to happen to me if I pray or talk to God? I have known a lot of pain and gotten a lot of horrible surprises, including being homeless, and I’m really not willing to even risk experiencing any more of that. Please help. Thank you so much for your time.
FATHER JOE: I do not believe there is a cause-and-effect relationship where the woman gave her life to God and immediately suffered personal and financial upheaval. We live in a broken world and we are subject to both good and evil. There is no guarantee that the believer will have a perfectly happy life. If such were the case, then there would be no martyrs. Speaking for myself, I find my faith a source of solace and hope in the face of troubles and adversity. It would be more difficult otherwise; especially facing the prospect of suffering, sickness and death. I trust that whatever happens, God will not abandon me.
I have a question. My daughter, baptized catholic, is now engaged to be married to a man who is Methodist. They both have been attending his church and she has been going there for over 4 years. They will be getting married there next year. As a catholic person, does she need to do anything to be married in the Methodist church? And if she is planning to attend this church for the rest of her life. What should she do? My father, an ordained Deacon in the Catholic church won’t come to the wedding as she is not getting married in a catholic church. I am just wanting to make it right by my daughter and I don’t know what to say to my father. Any help?
FATHER JOE: Dear Therese, the situation you detail is indeed problematical. Because your daughter is a baptized Catholic, attending weekly services in the Methodist church does not satisfy her Sunday obligation. She would also have to attend Mass in order to remain in good standing. Nevertheless, she is still bound as a Catholic to marry before a priest or deacon. If she promised to live her Catholic faith and to do all in her power to raise any children in the faith, she might possibly qualify for a dispensation from canonical form so as to have the wedding in a non-Catholic service. Catholic preparation would still be required. Given that she plans on having her marriage outside the Catholic Church, and has defected from practice, she could seek formal separation from the Catholic Church. But few do so because lapsed Catholics already place no credence in the Catholic precepts of the Church. The long-and-short of it is that her marriage in the Methodist church will have no juridical standing in the Catholic Church. Your father, who is a Catholic deacon, can neither be present nor participate in the ceremony. Priests and deacons witness marriages for the Church. His presence at a wedding that is not acknowledged would precipitate confusion and cause scandal. Sorry, but there is no good answer for this, at least as far as the Church is concerned.
Dear Fr Joe,
May a mentally ill person who is on long term medication to keep madness(psychosis) away get married? This may mean stopping medication for a while to be open to the possibility of pregnancy as the drug harms babies in utero. Meanwhile sanity risks not being maintained. I am thinking ahead do I just stay single? Your thoughts will be appreciated.
God bless you father.
FATHER JOE: I refused to witness a marriage of a woman in this situation many years ago. The medication kept her sane. Unfortunately, the drugs would also deform and harm an unborn child. There was no way for her to go off the medication. The pastor got angry with me and married her to her boyfriend against my advice. She got pregnant. She went off the drugs. She became so insane and suicidal that she had to be tied to a bed post for months. She became like a screaming and dangerous animal. There were constant hallucinations and every type of obscenity. Her husband, as I knew he would, drove away and never came back. But I cannot speak to your particular situation. Talk to your priest and doctor about it.
Is it a sin to work on a Sunday? I am thinking of applying for a seasonal job during the summer as I am a school bus driver for 10 months. This job would be a shuttle driver and it is busy on the weekends. You are pretty much expected to work Saturday and Sunday. I of course do not need to take this job and I would also go to Mass on Sunday but since I do not need this job but pretty much do need a seasonal job is it a sin to take it?
I would defer to the Code of Canon Law and to the Universal Catechism:
“On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass. Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body” (CIC 1247).
“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 2185).
The latter recognizes that one may be excused from the obligation.
Good morning Father: we are Practicing Catholics.. both our spouses died and after 11 yrs, we decided to marry in CostaRica. We received a blessing from a Catholic priest.we have not had a sacramental marriage in the USA. Are we permitted to receive the Eucharist since we both have had all the sacraments as children. Thank you for your response.. my husband doesn’t want the legal ramifications because his monies are tied up in a trust for his children. Thank you for your quick response.. Mary
FATHER JOE: What do you mean be a blessing from a priest in Costa Rica? Did he actually witness your marriage or just offer a blessing over you as a couple? If you receive the sacrament of marriage anywhere then the Church would recognize it, no matter in what country you might find yourselves. While there is some current controversy upon the subject of Holy Communion and irregular unions, I was taught that if you are not truly spouses but living as if you are, then you cannot be invited to receive Holy Communion. Sexual activity outside of marriage is regarded as the matter of mortal sin. If you should be genuinely married in the Church (even without a civil license) then the matter would be different. I hope my response does not unduly distress you but I want to be honest. Peace.
I have a somewhat random question: what is the morality regarding cooperation with the creation or potential use of nuclear weapons. That is, would it be mortally sinful for a Catholic to work as part of an ICBM launch crew for the Air Force or for an engineer to design planes that may carry nuclear weapons?
Thank you very much.
Your question is in reference to an unsettled debate in the Catholic Church. However, there are inherent moral problems with the use of nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction. They would have to fit within just war theory and not directly intend to destroy non-combatants and the innocent. Many Catholics were involved with the two bombs dropped on Japan. The argument was that they saved lives because there would be no need for an invasion. However, Catholic moralists have never bought into the ends justifies the means strategy. I have on my shelf a book by a German priest in Nagasaki who had his church, parish house, convent and orphanage and most of his parishioners wiped out by the bomb. Walking through the devastation of the city, he came home to find a crater and rubble. I would argue that we have to make a decision in conscience based upon the terrible human price caused by such weapons.
Father Joe: Our friends parents have committed murder/suicide yesterday. They were not believers. Is there support Biblically for post mortem evangelism? (PME salvation)
We want to be witnesses to our friends who are hurting and questioning so much. Thank you.
FATHER JOE: All you can do is leave the matter to almighty God. You can also pray for them. But when we die, what is done is done. Fundamental options or spiritual orientations are fixed with death. The Gospel is proclaimed in time. When we enter eternity, we face the Lord and his judgment.
Fr. Joe, I have a very sensitive topic to discuss and ask a question about. I hope this does not offend your readers. My husband and I have confessed an abortion several years ago. There were lots of medical circumstances that led to this terrible, awful decision, and I regret it every single day and have been unable to forgive myself and my husband for it. The side effects of this (aside from the terrible anguish and grief) are that I am starting to really despise my husband. I can’t forgive him for letting me go through this. He says he did it out of fear of losing me, but I wish I had risked my own life to save my child’s and I am not sure I will ever forgive either of us. It is ruining my marriage and I just can’t seem to stop the hateful thoughts I have toward the man I promised to love forever. I cannot be intimate with him anymore because of it. I have spoken to my former priest about this and have been to counseling. I guess what I am looking for is advice about how this will affect my eternal salvation: not just because of the crime of the abortion, but because of my terrible feelings toward my husband. I really want to strive to be a BETTER person for God, not worse. But I am sad and so deeply disappointed in the partnership that I thought we would have, and were supposed to have, as a married couple. We have three other children whom we love who know nothing about this. They believe that I miscarried. We could never tell them the horrible, ugly truth.
FATHER JOE: If you really regret the abortion than you and your husband should reaffirm your love for each other and for the Lord. You may both have received absolution from the sacrament, but you must also forgive yourselves as a couple. It does no good to blame your spouse or to focus your anger and disappointment upon him. Nothing can change what happened. But if you allow an old sin to tear you apart then you really did not learn from it. Life must be affirmed, both in terms of the child and in reference to fidelity. The child can be named by the parents. Then by name the two of you can prayerfully entrust this child’s soul to God’s mercy. “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (Isaiah 49:15). Place what happened in God’s hands and try to let it go. Turning to the two of you as a couple, remember that love makes possible life. When that love has been compromised, it needs healing and reaffirmation. This should be brought before God in your prayer as a couple. Your relationship to the Lord is not just a personal one, but corporate or communal. Your faithfulness to God is measured in large part by your fidelity to each other. Hatred of a spouse is often connected to disdain of self and enmity toward God. If the demonic entered your family through an abortion, then you must break the tendrils or roots of that sin which continue to imperil your marriage and family.
I am in a desperate situation whether I either go without health care (which is greatly needed – I have several severe health issues) or divorce, so that I can qualify for health care. My husband does not make enough money to pay for health care and I am unable to work. I applied for disability 6 years ago and still haven’t been given a decision (it keeps going through appeal after appeal), so I have no income. Is it a sin to divorce my husband so that I can get the help I need and still live together as husband and wife?
FATHER JOE: What you are talking about is a divorce on paper or a civil divorce. You would still be married in the eyes of Church. A priest friend I know asked the bishop years ago if he might witness the marriage of a couple without a civil license so that bride could retain her father’s health benefits. The bishop was quite adamant, NO! What you are talking about is similar, albeit retroactively. Is it a sin for desperate people to do such things? This is a gray area in my estimation although deception might arguably be a sin. We should not lie. You are trusting in a loophole that might quickly close. You would also forfeit legal benefits as a spouse. There are all sorts of repercussions, many undesired. Further, can you be sure insurance investigators might not insist upon physical separation to avoid the appearance of fraud?
Father Joe, thank you so much for your timely response. Your questions are excellent and perhaps just we need to progress. We will ask our priest if we have to take more classes and wait the 6 months. We will also ask if they allow adults to join the church at other times besides Easter. We have attempted to schedule meetings with our priest several times, most recently last Sunday…not to meet on Sunday, but to schedule something for later. He said he didn’t have time, and wanted to know what our rush was…said we had waited this long. My husband turns 65 this year. I turn 63. We have been married 27 years this year. My husband is a prostate cancer survivor and I am a uterine cancer survivor. I am certain we ARE impatient. Thank you again for your response.
FATHER JOE: I am at a loss to understand the priest’s response. What was regarded as an irregular bond can now be healed. A person who wants to share in the graces of the faith and sacraments should not be unduly delayed. Given health and age issues, this is quite important. Is there another priest to whom you might speak? Does he fully appreciate these background issues? I will keep the two of you in prayer.
I am doing a Religion assignment for school. It is in relation to Confession. Would you mind answering a few questions of mine?
Recently a Roman Catholic Confession app has been released, to help you prepare for confession. What is your opinion on this?
What is the purpose of Confession?
Also, do you see a any changes in people once they have confessed their sins?
Thanks so much!
FATHER JOE: I have heard there is a app that can assist with the examination of conscience, the rite and prayers. However, you should probably not have a phone or tablet on during the sacrament. The danger is that these multimedia devices can be intrusive and even violate the seal of confession. As for how confession changes us, it varies with the person. But yes, I have seen changes and often great joy! The purpose of confession should be obvious… to forgive sins and to grant actual and saving graces. There is a healing of our relationship with God and his Church. Peace!
Hello Father Joe , Where do Catholic Priests receive their authority to do things that Priests only do , for example, confect the Eucharist, hear Confessions, give the Anointing of the Sick, and, in some cases, give Confirmation ? .
FATHER JOE: The authority came from Christ and was given to his Apostles. The Apostles extended this authority to the bishops who followed them. Bishops extend this authority to priests through the laying on of hands or ordination. We have a 2,000 year unbroken line of apostolic succession.
I had cause to speak to our priest yesterday, which is never a pleasurable experience as he is not the most approachable person. It was about my daughters First Holy Communion. I was not very pleased as to what she had learned so far. I feel he should be spending more time with the children at this very important time. He repeated the conversation to her teacher and made it out I was complaining about her. Should he have done this? The teacher was upset thinking I went behind her back.
FATHER JOE: I am not privy enough to the parish dynamics to really speak to this specifically. It is not surprising that any pastor would speak to one of his catechists about concerns because they are regarded as extensions of him. Even if he has a DRE and other clergy, the pastor is responsible as the primary educator in his parish. This does not mean that he has to do all the teaching directly; rather, he must insure that faith formation is complete and reliable.
Fr., thank you for all that you do. If I committed a sin as a boy that was objectively mortal but didn’t know it was mortal but I did know it was seriously wrong is it still mortal
FATHER JOE: If you knew it was seriously or grievously wrong and freely chose to do it anyway… then YES you did know and commit a mortal sin. The only factor that would then mitigate personal gravity would be any impediments to freedom or consent… like immaturity, anxiety, coercion, etc.
My husband was not Catholic. He began attending mass and attended RCIA classes. He has not missed mass nor a holy day of obligation in over 3 years. But he has not been allowed to join the Catholic Church because he was married twice before. Those marriages have now (after 3 years) been annulled. I was Catholic, married in the Catholic Church, divorced but he died over 20 years ago. Do we have to be have our marriage convalidation done before he can join the church? We intend to do this, but why does he have to wait to join the church? It seems to me that according to this, he cannot become Catholic because we are not married in the Church, and we cannot get our marriage blessed, convalidated until he becomes a Catholic. We have agreed to live as brother and sister until this resolved. He so wants to receive communion. We are both in our 60’s. Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.
FATHER JOE: You are now both free to marry in the Church. He has gone through the RCIA classes. What is left to resolve? Are you being required to take pre-Cana classes and wait 6 months? Does the parish only baptize adult converts at Easter? I am not sure about the complication you describe. It would seem to me that all that is left is a matter of simple scheduling. Have you talked with your pastor recently?
I have heard conflicting things about the announcing of the sick. I have heard, and it seems so in the catechism, that it is reserved for when one is in danger of death. However, I see priests offering it openly to anyone for spiritual and physical healing at healing masses. Are there strict rules for this?
There are rules for the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. But we can pray for any sick people by name outside the sacrament. Some healing Masses are open to all because they do not include the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. Within a charismatic style liturgy, people come forward and the priests lay hands upon them, praying for healing. Confessions might also be offered during these liturgies.
The anointing of the sick is reserved to those in close proximity to death (the seriously sick and/or those of advanced age). I often offer it as well to those with an ailment that requires life-threatening surgery.)
Is it possible that the priests you see are substituting another oil and are not offering the sacrament. I would still be troubled by possible sacramental simulation, but my first church used to anoint people on First Fridays with the “Oil of St. Anne.” The words were something one of the priests made up.
I have recently been studying the history of the church and I can’t help but be utterly fascinated by the Second Vatican Council. I really want to learn about this topic but I am having trouble learning about the impacts that the Council has had on the modern day church. Perhaps ‘you’ could tell me about some of the impacts that you think the Council had on the modern day church.
I was just reading the bible and I found so many inspirational passages. I was wondering if you had a favourite part of the bible. If so I would love to hear about it and what it means to you.
Thank you in advance,
FATHER JOE: I cannot say I especially focus on any Scripture. The Gospels and Psalms are my favorite books. There is a verse I like, repeated in Matthew 25: 21 and 23: “His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.'” Think what it must be for a soul to hear such words when he stands in judgment before Almighty God!