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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Feel free to submit a new question or concern in the comment box below.  Various topics and questions are archived here for easy retrieval.  Please be courteous.  God bless you!

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2,983 Responses

  1. Hello,
    I am searching for guidance. I have been praying about becoming a foster parent and possibly an adoptive parent for many years. I feel that God is really calling me to do this. However I am 35 years old and single. Finding a husband just has not happened for me yet. I feel like children need to be raised in a home with a man and a woman to guide them. I don’t know if I should wait until I am married to go down this road or if I should do it now because of the possibility of never getting married. Would this conflict with church teaching?
    Should I go ahead with this as a single woman and keep my heart open for marriage? Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: I know a single woman who adopted a child and was a great mother. More than that, I cannot say because I do not know you. The ideal is a father and mother. But sometimes that is not possible. I have a dear friend who lost her husband early in her marriage and had to raise her children on her own. She sacrificed much but did a masterful job. Peace.

  2. Hi Fr. Joe,

    I have found myself lost recently and went to see the priest at our local parish. He has me confused on wether or not I should begin taking communion or not.

    I have not attended church for years now. As a child I was baptized and received first communion in the church. I have attended a couple masses recently and have not taken communion as I was unsure wether or not I should. During my meeting with the priest he told me to attend mass more regularly and said the blood and body of Christ will open the door he is knocking on just like the two men needed him to break the bread to reconignze his presence in the Bible. He never came out and directly told me to take communion. He gave me homework and then said your homework is your penance. This was not confession but rather a private meeting with the priest. What are your thoughts? I’m confused on what needs to happen.

    Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: I have no idea what is meant by homework. Go to a priest, even if another priest, for Confession. After the absolution, you should return to the practice of participating at Sunday Mass. That is all you have to do. Peace!

  3. Hi Father Joe.thank you for answering my question.God bless

  4. So God the Father does not suffer but Christ does through his passion and death on the cross for our sins and our salvation. We can say God by the second person of the Holy Trinity that was made flesh suffers fully as we do and does Jesus have human emotions as we do? I believe he does. God bless

    FATHER JOE: Yes, Jesus is a divine Person but also a man. But remember, the risen Jesus can no longer suffer or die.

  5. Thank you for continuing to clarify this subject. I have been thinking about this a lot. I am not sure it is something that can be grasped fully by us mere mortals, but obviously those with theological training understand it better than the rest of us. Thanks again.

  6. Shalom Father.Just now i copied the meaning of filial fear from internet ” when someone is deeply in love with God, loves God so much and has a true relationship with God, they just avoid causing hurt and wounds on anyone else and God”.My question is when we do something that might hurt the other,does our sin hurt God too?If we say “God hurts when we sin” that means God also has an emotion like us.I’m sorry if i ask this question because i still confuse.

    FATHER JOE:

    I have answered your question but will repeat myself. God as an immutable and perfect spirit cannot be harmed. It is only with the incarnation, God becoming man, that Jesus might offer his life as a sin offering for the whole world. As I said, our sins target Christ on the Cross. The suffering Sacred Heart of Jesus is precisely the betrayed, scourged and crucified Christ. Our Lord’s Paschal Mystery takes place in time and yet it is not locked in human history. The Mass brings us back to the sacrifice of the Cross and permits us to offer ourselves as an acceptable oblation to the Father, albeit joined to Christ.

    I wrote this to Jane two days ago:

    No, the Gospel understanding of love is not as an emotion although human beings often relate to love as an emotion or as chemistry. Theologically, love is an act of the will, not of the emotions. Our participation in divine love or charity is the infusion (with saving grace) of the virtue of love within the rational will. It is this supernatural love that would have us embrace or even sacrifice ourselves for those whom we have trouble in liking. This is the meaning behind loving those who hate you, giving to those who take from you and forgiving those who hurt you.

    Thomists speak of God as the Unmoved Mover. God as such is a perfect Spirit and there is no biological chemistry or emotions. He possesses every perfection. He creates us with our emotions, even though because of original sin, we must deal with concupiscence. Jesus is the incarnate God and in him there is both divinity and humanity, the latter including a body (with its emotions) as well as a human soul and his divinity. Of course, Jesus is the All Holy One and is not subject to the brokenness we experience because of the primordial fall. Jesus is defined as a Divine Person, not a human person. This is his ultimate identity. We are saved by Jesus who is God.

    I wrote this to Teresa:

    The Scriptures will sometimes resort to anthropomorphic language because this is all that we know. That is why God, especially in the Old Testament, often seems to reflect human wrath. Our language and categories are strained in trying to express the deity who reveals himself to us. For instance, ours is a jealous God. What does this mean? It actually says more about us than God. We were made for God. Separated from him and we are frustrated in terms of our ultimate ends.

    What does it mean when we say that GOD IS LOVE? It is appreciated within an understanding of the Trinity. The Love of God is eternally generated between the Father and the Son. This perfect good will or the Holy Spirit is a divine interior power that harmonizes our hearts with that of Christ. God moves us to participate or to share in his love, a love that the Cross shows us is sacrificial. We are summoned to love one another as our Lord has loved us. This “personal” divine power or energy (not an impersonal force like Star Wars) always calls us to conversion or transformation. Hardened hearts are softened or changed within the body of the Church. This is what it means to witness the love of God to the world around us. We are made adopted sons and daughters to the Father. We are invited to abide within the Trinity (the inner life of God) forever.

    I wrote this to you Chris:

    You are correct that God the Father does not have human emotions. However, God can be honored or dishonored. The justice of God demands that we maintain the correct posture before him. Sin offends him. It is in Jesus and the Sacred Heart that we can speak about “hurting” the Lord. All the sins of the world, throughout all time, and in every place, targeted Christ in his Cross. Jesus knew betrayal, abandonment, suffering and death. The risen Christ can never suffer or die again. But the sacrifice of Calvary has an eternal dimension. Indeed, the Mass allows us to offer ourselves with Christ and brings us to Calvary, albeit through an unbloody but real re-presentation.

  7. Hi Father Joe,

    Is it a mortal sin to lie to someone because I was too embarrassed about the truth and did not want to be judged?

    FATHER JOE: Depends upon what you lied about. Some lies may be venial.

  8. Hi I was wondering is it ok to enjoy horror movies?..im a big movie fan but I struggle with this!..im a Catholic..thanks for help with this…

    FATHER JOE: Depends on the movies. I like the classics like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy.

  9. Just curious – when a man is ordained a priest is he obligated to serve in the area where he went to Seminary? Does he have a choice whether to serve as the priest of a parish, a chaplain in a hospital, a teacher in a school or whatever other jobs priests do? If he is not happy in his job or his diocese, can he request a change or is he obligated to obey his bishop in regards to his assignment? If he has a legitimate complaint against his bishop, does the church have a means for him to resolve this or does a vow of obedience trump all?

    Thanks for your time – Jerome

    FATHER JOE: A distinction must be made between diocesan priests (who mostly serve in parishes) and religious clergy who belong to orders that specialize in teaching or missionary work or whatever. He takes a promise or vow to his bishop or superior. He can give input, but ultimately he does as he is told. We were taught that obedience to the bishop is fidelity to Christ.

  10. Hello Fr. Joe, I have a major concern. Okay, I am extremely religious and get blessings right and left. God is calling me back to the Church. However, except for funerals and occasionally a wedding, I stopped going to Mass years ago.

    I have been talking about lots of things to a local priest. I turned to him for advice and counseling. He encouraged me to head back to church. I went to do a good confession and was on my way. However, yesterday I was not ready to go back.

    A few weeks ago I went to my first Mass in years. But, I skipped going one week because it was icy. I was sick on Palm Sunday and Easter. I was conflicted. I just didn’t feel ready to go back. I felt the Lord in spirit told me that he understood how I was feeling.

    I don’t want to start not going again. It is just not sitting well with me. Is this normal? I just need to know. Thanks.

    FATHER JOE:

    The Lord certainly understands what is going on with you— and he is very patient— but you need to make the firm resolve to practice your faith and to participate at Mass. We are called both to a personal and a corporate or communal relationship with Jesus. The Mass is where we come together to worship God. While hazardous road conditions and illness are grounds for staying home; the deliberate missing of Mass just because “we do not feel like going” constitutes serious sin. It is hard for you now because you have developed the bad habit of missing Sunday Mass. Despite the struggle, you need to develop the good habit or virtue of attending Mass. As you do this, it should become easier for you.

    You may also be struggling with the devil. He does not want you in church. He will put walls between you and the graces that God wants to give you. Do not give in. Say your prayers. Ask God to help you in the fight against bad habits and the devil. Peace!

  11. If God does not have human emotions then how should we pray to him? We are emotional beings and that is how we relate. Does he not love us? Love is an emotion, correct.

    FATHER JOE: No, the Gospel understanding of love is not as an emotion although human beings often relate to love as an emotion or as chemistry. Theologically, love is an act of the will, not of the emotions. Our participation in divine love or charity is the infusion (with saving grace) of the virtue of love within the rational will. It is this supernatural love that would have us embrace or even sacrifice ourselves for those whom we have trouble in liking. This is the meaning behind loving those who hate you, giving to those who take from you and forgiving those who hurt you.

  12. I never knew God the Father has no human emotion. So what is that he feels or thinks when we do sin or tempted to sin? What is the divine emotion or reaction. God has said in the past in the Old Testament he is a jealous God so does he feel betrayl?


    FATHER JOE:

    Thomists speak of God as the Unmoved Mover. God as such is a perfect Spirit and there is no biological chemistry or emotions. He possesses every perfection. He creates us with our emotions, even though because of original sin, we must deal with concupiscence. Jesus is the incarnate God and in him there is both divinity and humanity, the latter including a body (with its emotions) as well as a human soul and his divinity. Of course, Jesus is the All Holy One and is not subject to the brokenness we experience because of the primordial fall. Jesus is defined as a Divine Person, not a human person. This is his ultimate identity. We are saved by Jesus who is God.

    The Scriptures will sometimes resort to anthropomorphic language because this is all that we know. That is why God, especially in the Old Testament, often seems to reflect human wrath. Our language and categories are strained in trying to express the deity who reveals himself to us. For instance, ours is a jealous God. What does this mean? It actually says more about us than God. We were made for God. Separated from him and we are frustrated in terms of our ultimate ends.

    What does it mean when we say that GOD IS LOVE? It is appreciated within an understanding of the Trinity. The Love of God is eternally generated between the Father and the Son. This perfect good will or the Holy Spirit is a divine interior power that harmonizes our hearts with that of Christ. God moves us to participate or to share in his love, a love that the Cross shows us is sacrificial. We are summoned to love one another as our Lord has loved us. This “personal” divine power or energy (not an impersonal force like Star Wars) always calls us to conversion or transformation. Hardened hearts are softened or changed within the body of the Church. This is what it means to witness the love of God to the world around us. We are made adopted sons and daughters to the Father. We are invited to abide within the Trinity (the inner life of God) forever.

  13. Hi Father.I’m Chris n I’m from Malaysia.There’s something i want to ask you,Father.what is Filial fear and does God hurt or feel sorrow when we sin?As we know,God is impassible and has no emotion but if wen offend Him,does God hurt or feel sorrow or it just anthropomorphism?thanks.

    FATHER JOE: You are correct that God the Father does not have human emotions. However, God can be honored or dishonored. The justice of God demands that we maintain the correct posture before him. Sin offends him. It is in Jesus and the Sacred Heart that we can speak about “hurting” the Lord. All the sins of the world, throughout all time, and in every place, targeted Christ in his Cross. Jesus knew betrayal, abandonment, suffering and death. The risen Christ can never suffer or die again. But the sacrifice of Calvary has an eternal dimension. Indeed, the Mass allows us to offer ourselves with Christ and brings us to Calvary, albeit through an unbloody but real re-presentation.

  14. Hello father,

    I’m a new Catholic, baptized just last week at the vigil, and I’m not sure if what I’ve done is mortal sin or not.

    I was talking with an acquaintance about something because I feared from what they said (and later turned out to be wrong about) that the acquaintance was sleeping with my friend, who has a boyfriend, and I was afraid several people would end up being hurt by it. The acquaintance was not forthcoming with me and I, to myself, lost my temper and inwardly called them a few vulgar names, which was childish of me. However, it stopped there and I gained control of myself. Even though no one but me knows this happened, I feel bad about losing my temper like that. Is what I did a mortal sin?

    FATHER JOE: I am not sure how serious was the loss of temper. The more serious sin might be sharing the possibility of someone sleeping with your friend. We should probably keep such things to ourselves. Peace.

  15. do you mean the act of faith, hope, love and contrition?

  16. Dear Fr Joe,
    Happy feast day of Divine Mercy in advance.
    I write to ask your advice on how one who is prone to living a very anxiety filled life with constant fear of what may happen next can learn to trust in God and enjoy His many blessings and consolations.
    Am sorry the question is too general but as always I appreciate your insight.
    Thanks and God bless you father.

    FATHER JOE: First, I think there are personality types that are more prone to anxiety. Are introspective introverts more susceptible… maybe, I am not sure. It may that some will always deal with such feelings. Second, I think a prayerful abandonment to divine providence may be helpful. We have to trust that whatever comes, God will not abandon us. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of smooth sailing in life. We will face hardships, suffering, betrayal, sickness and dying. Can we trust the Lord in both the bad times and the good times? I suspect that is where we find the test of faith. Peace.

  17. Dear Father,

    What are the 4 prayers of forgiveness before taking holy communion. Thank you for your time.

    Andrew

    FATHER JOE: If you mean personal prayers, there are more than four. Some are available online. Others might be in your missal or missalette.

  18. I am 67 yrs old and had greenlight therapy for an enlarged prostate. My wife and I have not been sexually active. She is going through a rough time and every time I want to be sexually she does not. The doctor said I should masturbate to help get an erection. Is this considered a sin?

    FATHER JOE: Masturbation is not the marital act and consequently is regarded as sinful.

  19. Hello Father, I was born and raised a Catholic and my wife (who is not Catholic) and I have a son together. I’m in a dilemma with who we want as his godparents. My best friend is a Pastor at a Christian church and he and his wife would be great role models for my son. I have family members who could be his godparents but my wouldn’t be as good as a role model as my friend and his wife. What should I do? Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: Were you married in the Catholic Church and are you practicing your faith? If so, then the child should be baptized in a Catholic Church. Given that your friend is baptized, he can stand in as a Christian Witness at the baptism in place of one Catholic godparent. The other sponsor should be a Catholic godparent in good standing. Of course, everyone affirms the Apostles’ Creed. Would your pastor friend be okay with this?

  20. My sister recently lost her husband to cancer at the age of 55. My teenage nieces are having a difficult time coping and are very angry at God and don’t want to attend mass like they used to. I’m looking for advice or words of comfort.

    FATHER JOE: The Blessed Mother lost her son Jesus when he was between 33 to 35 years of age. Our Lord rose from the dead and promised us a share in his life. We are all mortal and we will all die. But, there is hope in Christ. I would urge them to attend Mass and to pray for their father. We can intercede for souls and assist them into heaven. Our heavenly Father did not spare his own son. However, we are urged to trust Jesus when he says that he goes ahead of us to prepare a place for us. Instead of getting mad at God, this should be a time of increased devotion. The mystery of the communion of the saints is that we are still attached to our beloved dead in Christ. We can apply the fruits of the Mass for poor souls in purgatory. It is in Jesus that love is stronger than death. Despair and anger is not the answer. Tell them to find hope and peace.

  21. I was sexually abused by my father and godfather. When I entered the Church at age thirteen, I was already being sexually abused by my godfather. All on the male side in my mother’s family were perpetrators. I also had a spiritual director (a Catholic priest) who sexually abused others and was grooming others, including me. There was physical abuse both from my dad and later by my mom.

    Growing up, I had to quickly become an adult. It has been hard to see God as “Father” and myself as his daughter given that all my experiences were negative. Nevertheless, I am working on trying to see God as “Father” (with his grace) through the Scriptures, sacraments, proper spiritual direction and Christian counseling. I was told it would take a while. It seems easier to avoid opportunities to grow in a relationship with God the Father since it brings me back to blaming and to a sense of guilt or shame. I was told I need to be patient.

    Thank you, Father and Samantha for your responses and encouragement.

    (edited for clarity)

  22. I was sexually abused by my father to me he is just a man. God is my Father he is the one who loves guides and guards me he is the one I can count on who lovingly created me in the palm of his hand. Ask him for healing it will happen.

  23. Dear Father
    What if a person can’t see God as Father because abuse and trauma like sexual and physical was caused by their father. Not only that but by their God Father, Is this sin if the person does not identify God with the title of God the Father. Even if the person had Christian counseling. Is Does God understand?

    FATHER JOE: God understands everything, but the appreciation of God as our heavenly Father is a constitutive element of Christian revelation. We would short-change ourselves by eliminating this title that identifies the deity as a “personal” God who has created us out of love. Today there are many families where the father is missing and the mother is the sole parent. This is a terrible loss although these mothers are often very courageous and sacrificing for their children. The question is asked: How can these children possibly come to an appreciation of God as Father when they have no role model of fatherhood in their lives? It is a problem. But instead of eliminating any paternal theme, it is properly argued that we should accentuate it. Why? The fatherhood of God might be the only Father that many people will ever know. It should be a corrective to deadbeat dads or men who corrupt themselves through abuse or the abandonment of their families. If there be genuine healing, then an understanding of true fatherhood has to emerge. Otherwise, the spiritual life becomes stunted. Indeed, the familial relationships of the next generation are also damaged. How could one who flees the notion of fatherhood ever fully embrace healthy spousal love where the couple becomes mother and father?

  24. Hello Father, thank you for your blog and for caring about all of us. Last weekend my father had to be hospitalized. Sunday afternoon he was allowed to go home. My mother, siblings and I were with him the whole time while he was in the hospital and then with him when he got home. We missed Mass that weekend, wanting to be with him since all the medication they gave him had him so confused, not well mentally. Now I keep thinking over and over if we should have made the extra effort to go to Mass, maybe one of us take my mom to the 7:00 am Mass and the other go to the 5:00 pm Mass or something like that. At the moment we just wanted to be with him. Was this a sin? Should I confess it, especially since I went to communion today? Thank you for your answer. And please, if you can, keep my dad and family in your prayers. Recovery is coming along, slowly. Thanks again, Maria

    FATHER JOE: God and his Church would understand such preoccupation with your father. Make a good Act of Contrition and if it would ease your mind then mention it the next time you go to Confession. But given extenuating circumstances, I would suspect only venial sin was committed… if even that. Many prayers! God bless!

  25. My son was 3 when my husband had a serious car accident. My husband ended up having a traumatic brain injury . That was nearly 20 years ago. Obviously, this caused multiple issues in my family. My son is now claiming to be an atheist. I’m blaming myself for this (b/c of husband’s accident) I feel I was not a good parent. Had alot on my plate. How can I bring my son back to God ?

    FATHER JOE: I know families that pray daily, go to Mass every Sunday and had their children catechized to receive their sacraments… and still there are some that stray from the faith. Blaming yourself will not help. We live in a society where modernity targets faith for ridicule. What can you do? Pray for your family and continue to witness by your life what the faith means to you. Maybe in time this testimony of yours will bring him home to the safe harbor of faith?

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