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.
I could talk to the priest. I just don’t know if it is an appropriate action to take.
Hello Father. I am a 59 year old man, divorced with three daughters. I just lost a very special family friend on Thursday she was 95 years old. This morning I woke up and looked in the mirror and I had three scratches on my stomach that wasn’t from me. My faith in the lord is very strong but this seems a bit demonic. Should I worry? I know God is with me always but I did ask my friend to say goodbye to me before she went to heaven? Thank You in advance, Bill
FATHER JOE: You really cannot make anything from such scratches. We do many involuntary things while sleeping. Just keep your friend in prayer.
I have a friend who is a Eucharistic minister. He is unmarried and sexually active. He does not believe in confession and has not gone in 10 years. I feel like he needs some counseling from his priest but I don’t want to go behind his back and tell the priest. He does not think he is doing anything inappropriate and will not listen to his friends. What do you suggest?
FATHER JOE: If he will not listen to you and you do not want to inform the priest, then there is not much you can do. But avoid gossip or amplifying his scandal.
Father, I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Denise, I am a Catholic and I am seeking your help. My husband of 31 years has told me he is gay. He says he has felt this all his life. I am crushed, I feel my entire marriage has been a lie. He moved out of our house to live with a 27 year old transgender prostitute. I am at a lose honestly. My heart hurts, my thoughts are always on this and I can’t eat and sleep. He wants a divorce. I will grant him a divorce because I can not handle his cheating and lying.
Please help me through this time. I do not know who else can help me. I talk and pray to God for guidance. Is there a prayer you could suggest? Anything will help.
Your life together was not a lie… not for you. Remember the good times. His defection from you is like a death. There is anger and grieving. But eventually we have to let go. Do not allow this to drag you down. Move on and make a new life for yourself.
You are not responsible for his deception and infidelity. Given that he married you and that for many years you were unaware of his sexual deviancy, there is no certainty that he is honest even now about his orientation. You have every right to be upset. Since he left you to pursue a life of depravity, no one would fault you for giving him the divorce he wants. (However, it should be documented that he abandoned you— he is at fault.) Further, make sure that you are financially or materially secure.
As for what prayers should be offered, the Rosary is always efficacious. Instead of any particular prayer, that for which you pray might be the more important. Try not to hate your errant husband but rather pray for him as a poor sick man who has lost his way. He may not come back to you (indeed you may not want him back in your life) but you can ask the Lord to save his soul. You should also pray for peace in yourself. There is so much we cannot change. Suffering touches us all. We should not despair. Our Lord was also betrayed and made his passion the means of saving us. Offer your heartache this Good Friday with that of Jesus on the Cross. It is in Jesus that the dark elements of life can be made redemptive. I will privately remember you tonight in the Parish’s veneration of the Cross.
Alice, Father is right also preparing to leave have a secret suitcase or bag of your and your child’s important documents medications and change of clothing just in case you have to leave immediately this is called exit strategy you will learn this as soon as you seek professional help. I am a mental health counselor and I have been thru simular situation you are now going thru. You can only help your husband by leaving him and protect your child/children, by making him look at himself and actions. He needs anger management but I think his issues are more serious and deep rooted. Please take Father Joe’s advice my prayers are with you. Be safe for you and your child/children
Hi, Last year I was talking with a priest and I told him a lie because I was embarrassed to tell him the truth. Is that a mortal sin?
Thank you and God Bless
FATHER JOE: Probably venial.
I would like to appolagize to my holy father pope Frances for my inapproprate behavior ,ifeal i greatly disappointed him and i feal guilty becouse he is such an inspiration to me becouse of his humility and love
I expressed anger 5 times to protect the health and safety of my parents and confessed those 5 sins and never angered again even when terribly mistreated so my penance was achieved but I stil l feal i disappointed my beloved Holy Father Pope Frances
However my opportunity for greater redemption is ahead of me to never anger. I have been condemed to prison but the good thing is i have committed no crime, and even better I ahve not had an evil thought , word or deed while being unjustly condemed to prison. For I know God will judge my thoughts the same as my deeds and my thoughts and deeds have been very good even while being unjustly condemed to prison an inocent man
In prison I will pray for others wthout ceasing as I suffer there greatly and offer it as a penance for my sins before God greatly reformed me 10years ago
Even Greater trials are ahead from those who have unjustly condemed me to prison they will do all they can to anger me as a go into prison and anger me in prison becouse they fear the truth that they have condemed a good man. However I am never going to anger becouse anger is a sin no matter how badthey treat me i will just pray they be blessed and forgiven so i will be forgiven for the way iwas in the 80s and 90s. i do this daily now is why i never anger while being unjustly condemed to prison
Going into prison and especialy prayerfuly in prison my holy father will not be disappointed in me for i am praying to be a loving, courages, marter in prayer for others as i suffer and am teribly mistreated
heaven with God is my hope
In love and peace
The Pope might inspire you, but your essential faith relationship is with Jesus. It is not a matter of letting the Pope down. Our misbehavior or sins offend God. When we do wrong, we should go to Confession and seek to amend our lives. As for anger, it is a matter of human emotion or chemistry that we sometimes get upset. It is a passion that must be ruled by reason. There is also righteous indignation, as Jesus displayed toward the money changers. The sin of anger is something else altogether. Wrongful anger is intertwined with hatred, fury and frustration. Such wrath is savage and out of control. This type of anger is in opposition to the love of God and neighbor. That is really why we regard it as a sin.
As for your being in prison and innocent, I have no details and cannot say for sure what you are talking about. However, where ever we find ourselves, we should strive to be the Christians that the Lord wants us to be. If your life is hard, remember what was commemorated this week in our churches: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and now Easter. Jesus was betrayed by those he loved, falsely accused, tortured and crucified on the Cross. He surrendered his life to atone for all the sins of the world. He took the punishment that was rightfully ours. Rising from the dead, he promises that those who believe in him will have a share in his life. Join your sufferings to the passion of Christ. Know that in Jesus Christ even the dark things of life can be transformed. The cross was a sign of defeat but now it is a sign of victory. Keep the faith.
I deal with same issue but now days it’s hard to find moral shows even on Disney I get sick of tv real fast I learn to do spiritual and educational reading
My husband hits, shoves, and gets in my face when he is angry. Last night he ripped the covers off the bed and threatened to beat me for making him angry. He keeps telling me that if I leave he will kill himself and says he will try harder to keep me locked in (take the car keys, block the door, install cameras,etc.). He’s only like this when he gets angry, but then starts hitting his head on the wall or other forms of violence for “hurting me in the first place”. He leaves things undone (chores/maintenance) for months (I get upset and start to complain) and when I go to pick up or do the job myself, he gets angry. (One time he thought I was throwing out his computer games and so he ran up and started hitting me) I’m not sure what to do. Do I seek counseling? Would it be a sin for me to leave and he really did kill himself? I’m afraid if I leave, CPS will take our child, or that he’ll claim I kidnapped the baby. I feel trapped and like all he wants to do is control me.
I’ve asked him what is wrong and he says he’s too busy with work. They work him very hard for little pay, but he refuses to look for work elsewhere. He comes home tired and not wanting to do anything except watch TV or be on the computer. On weekends, his boss calls for him to come in and he is always eager to leave.
I’m at a loss. He went to see a priest once to talk and he came home and was so nice and sorry for his actions. Things were fine for about two weeks and then slowly went back to the way they used to be.
You state that your husband…
• Gets in my face when angry
• Ripped the covers off the bed
• Threatened to beat me for making him angry
• Tells me that if I leave he will kill himself
• Says he will try harder to keep me locked in
• Hits his head on the wall for “hurting me”
• Leaves things undone
• Gets upset when I do his job myself, he gets angry
• He ran up and started hitting me
Look at this situation for what it really is. Your husband needs serious help and you are endangered. He is an abuser. Do you have family that would take you in for a while? He needs counseling. Given his violence, you would be within your rights to report him to the authorities. What he is doing to you is criminal. I think you have to protect yourself and your child. Your husband is out of control and dangerous. If you are worried that he would claim spousal kidnapping then a police report would help your argument. Talk with the local social services for direction in your area. It would also be good to get a list of people who have witnessed his bad behavior. Do not accept lame excuses about work, no matter how badly he is paid. Poor people are not necessarily bullies. You feel that you are “at a loss” because you are afraid of doing what must be done. No one, not even your husband has the right to verbally and physically assault you. If he touches you again in a violent way, call the police and send him to jail. But given what he has done already, I still think it would be better for you and the child to find a safe haven while he learns to deal with his problem.
Hello Father,it says in Leviticus 24:17-22 that “17 “‘Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death. 18 Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life. 19 Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. 21 Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a human being is to be put to death. 22 You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God.’”
But it also says in Matthew 5:38-42 that “38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Father,I’m a bit confused because the two verses are a bit contradicting to each other?What verse do you think is above the other?
Thank you father.
FATHER JOE: While the commandments retain their force (it is wrong to steal, murder, etc.), the disciplinary laws of Leviticus do not apply to Christianity. We must distinguish between the divine law and man’s interpretation of the law. St. Paul makes it very clear that we are no longer under the yoke of the old Jewish law. Rather, we are given by Christ the two-fold commandments of love. Just as Jesus could rescind the Mosaic law about a writ of divorce, his teachings and practice mitigated any response of vengeance. Justice is still real but ultimate punishment belongs to God. Jesus urges us to practice mercy. We would no more seek to enforce Levitical laws than we would want Muslims to enforce Sharia laws.
[Also adapted as a post.]
Is it a sin/serious sin to watch a comedy tv show with my family? It’s pg and, pg14 on some episodes. The show is Not very sexual besides a few crude comments everyone so often. can this be a mortal sin? (My parents think it’s ok for us just as an FYI)
Thanks and God bless!
FATHER JOE: It is probably okay. It is getting ever harder to find programs without questionable elements. One suggestion is that families discuss the programs they watch, pointing out moral lessons (if there are any) and noting segments at divergence from Christian values.
Hello Father, my husband went to confession last week and after confessing the priest asked him very direct questions. He asked him if he had watched pornography. Now my husband answered and isn’t too bothered about the question but I’m unhappy. I feel like a priest shouldn’t question you to get sins out of you, and now I feel uncomfortable at church. Is this a normal question for a priest to ask? I’d appreciate your view.
First, it is best that penitents not discuss their confessions with others because a priest is under the seal and cannot defend himself.
Second, if he told you what transpired, then you have a certain liberty to talk with him or to anonymously explore the issue; however, if it be something you overheard while your husband was in confession, then you would be under the seal as well (and could not bring it up).
Third, the questions that a priests asks are often based upon the sins he hears confessed. A priest might ask about pornography because many other sins are associated with it. Withholding a mortal sin is also a mortal sin so the penitent would best confess such a sin without too much prodding.
Answering your question, yes it is an appropriate question. The sins we are uncomfortable in admitting are precisely the sins that should be confessed to a priest.
Father Joe, I know nothing is new under the sun, but i have taken to sometimes addressing our god as “strength of mercy” Strength encapsulates the father , the son is of the father ,and mercy is the ultimate gift. Am i treading on stormy water here?
FATHER JOE: I really have no opinion.
Are we obliged in any way to tell another of our sins
FATHER JOE: Catholics are obliged to confess mortal sins to a priest. Outside of the sacrament, there are numerous other cases where confession may be good for the soul. However, it would be difficult to quickly enumerate. Certain close relationships require courageous honesty. The trouble is knowing if someone can handle the hard truth about faults. If something has been done that harms another or places people at risk, there may be an imperative to reveal the wrong (to those endangered and/or to those in authority).
Dear Father Joe,
I believe it is our Christian duty to gently and respectfully instruct fellow Catholics in areas of our faith in which they may not have knowledge or have misinformation. At least a year ago, I learned that long time friends were each initially married in the Church, were legally divorced from their respective spouses , met and married each other in a civil ceremony. I know that their present union is not recognized as a sacramental marriage and it is a serious sin for them to live this way and to receive Communion.I explained that their former marriages must be annulled and they then can have their present union blessed in the Church. My friend said she never heard of any such thing after I explained this so I encouraged her to talk to her husband and our pastor. Weeks later, the topic came up again and she told me her husband would never go through the annulment process. Certainly not being an expert on this process, I again encouraged her to talk to a priest and even offered to go with her, but this never happened. This topic has arisen since in several other circumstances such as a retreat and small group discussion where she has been given printed information about marriage, divorce and annulments and listened to people who were once in the exact same situation. Still, nothing has changed. I love my friend and want the best for her, but she seems to refuse to believe what the Church teaches or just will not face the truth. I am not sure she even listens now when I mention the subject. Father, do I continue to help her see God’s way or should I just pray that somehow she will come to see the light without further advice from me?
Thank you so much, Father Joe. I have learned so much from your comments and I am grateful you take the time to guide so many of us. May God Bless You
FATHER JOE: I suspect that she and her partner know very well what the Church teaches. You reminded your friends about something they refuse to face. You have done all you can do. Keep them in prayer.
when someone close to you is living a life of sin (like a sibling or other family member) and another has practically left the Church and stopped going to Mass, how much time should you spend trying to get them to do the right thing and how much time should you give them space and just pray? are there any books and resources you would recommend?
FATHER JOE: If we are talking about adults, then we should constantly witness the faith. The invitation to prayer and Mass attendance should also sometimes be shared. However, other than praying for that person, there is little else you can do. It would be hard to recommend resources as people leave the faith for many different reasons.
Is reading of the passion on Palm Sunday optional?
FATHER JOE: No.
My father never married my mother and he is not willing to. My uncle told me my father is obligated to do the right thing for my ways to be “opened” and so that I will not have setbacks in my life. I am the only Catholic in my family. I don’t know how to handle that situation. Will I miss God’s grace or some blessings because of my parent’s disobedience? What can I do?
FATHER JOE: God’s grace to you is available through your own faith and sacramental life. There are blessings that come to a family that walks with the Lord, but there is nothing you can do about your father. I would urge you to pray for him and think less about what your father’s sins have cost you and your mother.
I am in a support group that is for victim survivors of abuse by clergy and religious. Fr Joe is right nothing should be kept silent the damage of sexual abuse and other types of abuse that are committed by perpetrators who represent to us Christ, can lead spiritual damage such as how we perceive God and how we think God perceives us. This type of abuse is demonic so it is imperative that the victim get counseling and deliverance healing. This will break the demonic ties. It’s sad but true that many bishops have covered up sex abuse cases in their diocese. Religious orders too have a way of concealing abuse but what is hidden shall be brought to light. Prayers and blessings
FATHER JOE: Yes, I agree. While not excusing the sins of men, I would also see the devil’s hand in all this. The victims need healing of the mind and soul. While they can never be returned to ministry, abusers need punishment, treatment and deliverance from the demonic. Those who would excuse or rationalize away their crimes are similarly in need of liberation from the darkness that can only be dispelled by the LIGHT of Christ. It has been said that if the devil truly wanted to hurt the Church, he would target the priests. It is vital that priests should be holy men who live out the truth, make possible the forgiveness of sins and bring the nurturing and healing graces of the Eucharist to God’s people.
Father, God made us in his own image and likeness, and if some people are homosexual, well that’s the way God made them.
FATHER JOE: People are also born with deformities and health defects. We come into this world inflicted by original sin. We are wounded and broken, needing the healing and forgiveness of Christ. God is not a sexual being. Created in the divine image has to do with the properties of the soul. Human beings are the stewards of material creation. As body-soul composites, we can respond to God by knowing him (intellect) and loving him (will). That is what we understand by image. Likeness is similarly understood, but also appreciated as one being transformed or born again into the “likeness” of Christ by the gift of grace. The likeness or justification that was forfeited by sin is restored by the redemptive work of Christ.
Hello Father Joe,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question regarding Wrath and anger in the old and new testament, your answer has clarified a matter I have been trying to understand for a while. I would like to pose another question regarding the Fall, as I see there are many differing arguments and I was wondering what the official church stance on the matter was.
The bible as far as I understand refers to the Fall itself for example in Isaiah 14:12 where it is said the morning star (Lucifer) fell from the heavens, and Revelation 12:3–9 implies that with him so did a third of the angels so what is the Church’s belief as to why he fell? And why he now punishes us? If he and the others rebelled why does he punish sinners who also have strayed from God’s path as he has? Wouldn’t he celebrate those driven away from the love of God?
FATHER JOE: There is much speculation about the fall. Certain early Church fathers thought that it was the prospect of the incarnation itself that the devil could not stomach. Awed by his own light and high spiritual nature, he refused to bend the knee to the Christ Child. He literally viewed human beings with disdain, no more than animated sacks of blood or thinking meat. He refused to adore. Certain reformed theologians speak about the sin of the devils as “tarrying” or reluctance to do God’s will. Angelic beings would ordinarily do whatever they do immediately. Reservation would be viewed as rebellion. Knowing duration but not time, their ultimate choice was eternal and unchangeable. Others speak of intellectual pride. As for why the devils plague human beings, I am tempted to adopt Milton’s solution… everlasting spite. The devil has lost the war. Christ wins. But the devil continues to fight his skirmishes for souls. As for why he would torment souls, remember that he hates us. The devil has made the choice he has made. But creation was made for God. He has forfeited real happiness. Hell is an abode of frustration and alienation from God. (Even unhappy people in our world often seem to embrace the odd pursuit of making others unhappy.)
Are Catholics not allowed to attend the wedding of a gay couple? I was recently told that Catholics are forbidden from attending such weddings.
FATHER JOE: The Church does not explicitly forbid Catholics from attending a marriage presumed as invalid. One would have to make a personal judgment in conscience, weighing the possibility of scandal and undermining the dignity of marriage as sacred. If you should decide that as a matter of principle you cannot attend or participate, then you should be honest with the couple and affirm your love and prayers for them. Given marriage is strongly defined by the Church as a bond between a man and woman that is open to human generation, the fidelity of spouses and a unity realized by corporeal complementarity; I see no way that one might attend or celebrate a “same-sex” marriage without compromising an essential teaching of Catholic moral and sacramental doctrine. In other words, if you believe what the Church teaches, it would be impossible to attend as a good Catholic.
In your answer to Bobby Ray, you quoted:
Colossians 3:5-6 – “Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
How does a priest – who presumably believes this – justify sexual abuse – either his own or protecting/shielding oher abusers?
Also, do you think the Bishops and the Vatican are doing enough to punish those guilty and prevent more offences?
Thanks – Charles
FATHER JOE: Abuse of any kind cannot be justified. Shielding or enabling abuse cannot be justified. I think the Church today is much more proactive in protecting her people. Many of us (even among the clergy) are still shocked that such things could happen and that there could be allegations on such a massive scale. I suppose that is why there was an initial disbelief. But we can no longer be naïve about charges. Of course, our response must always be rooted in truth, compassion and justice.
My question is this: Within the new testament Jesus feels momentary anger, how is this possible if he IS God and God is perfect whereas anger is imperfect. To then follow up if wrath is a sin why is God described to feeling it throughout the Old Testament? How would the Catholic Church explain this?
FATHER JOE: Jesus is a divine Person. He is the Divine Mercy and the Divine Justice. Often the issue with human anger is that it takes unto itself that which belongs to God (see Deuteronomy 1:26-46; Joshua 7:1; Psalm 2:1-6; and Zephaniah 1:14-15). However, in this case, we are probably also talking about righteous indignation. There is a difference between an irrational emotion and that which emerges from a sense of justice and goodness.
Thank you for your response on march 31st as I am now clear as to what is acceptable and not in a marriage a catholic marriage I did not get nor see a message a month ago of your response that you replied and sent. I thank you for your time and patience.
Prayers and blessings!