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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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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!





3,375 Responses

  1. One of my parents has a friend who was married before I was born. I am in my 20s. I think the friend is Catholic, and from what I have heard, I also think one of the parties was married before this current marriage. I think my parent sends this person an anniversary card every year, including my name in the signature. I truly do not know any more details of this marriage, whether the first marriage was in the church, what the status of the current marriage is, etc. Would this be considered seriously wrong for me to have any involvement such as my name in the card and/or helping purchase the card?

    FATHER JOE: I really do not think it matters one way or the other. You are not privy to the marriage situation and while they might place your name upon it, it is really a family card, not particularly yours. You may want to mention that as an adult and not a child, it is a bad “legal” practice to add your name to anything they write. Peace!

  2. Hello Father, I had a question dealing with cooperation with evil.

    On Catholic Answers apologist Michelle Arnold said that we as Catholics are not obligated to boycott companies that support intrinsic evils such as abortion and homosexual acts.

    After doing a bit of research into the topic I came across something called remote mediate material cooperation and that this could be permissible with proportionate reasons, however when it comes to buying something like a Pepsi product how could one possibly justify that act considering it is not proportionate to the evil outcome, how can there be no moral obligation for Catholics to shun these companies when we know they are funding this evil and we are helping them by buying their products.


    Yes, Michelle Arnold is essentially correct.  We are talking here about remote mediate material cooperation. The point about a proportionate reason does not have to be particularly pronounced.  It might merely be to keep one’s job or someone else’s job. It might be as in paying taxes, simply to stay out of jail.  (We might not like everything our country does with our money.)  We might not approve of the various stances that organizations take.  Indeed, we may disapprove of many services and products offered.  However, as long as material cooperation is not immediate, there may be wiggle room for the faithful believer.  Of course, as a matter of personal sacrifice you might take an exceptional stand.  We all have to live with ourselves.

    This is not a new topic but it is very complex and somewhat disputed. Today there are organizations like the Knights of Columbus that attempt to invest in stocks and bonds from business interests that are not in serious conflict with Catholic values.  Groups and individuals will sometimes boycott corporations and their products when they attack the faith or include elements that are deemed immoral or unethical.  Indeed, I know a man who refused to take an immunization shot because it was based upon the genetic material of a child aborted in the UK back in 1969.  Reputable Catholic ethicists suggested that the abortion was so remote from what was happening now that one might morally take the injection.  However, my friend decided that he wanted to raise the bar, no matter what repercussions he might suffer.

    Years ago there was an effort to boycott certain hotels because they were offering questionable movie services in their rooms.  The effort generally collapsed because almost all the hotels followed suit.  When it comes to boycotting products, we must also remember that pretty much everything is connected.  Coca Cola makes countless other sodas, food products, Minute Maid and a thousand other fruit juices.  For a while they owned Columbia Pictures and many of the top movies people watch. On top of the 123,200 jobs immediately dependent on the company, there are all the other businesses that depend upon their relationship with Coca Cola. Coca Cola annually uses 300,000 tons of aluminum for its cans— that is purportedly 17.4% of all US aluminum production. Actions are like dominoes, they can have unintended effects.

    Here is a link to an excellent article on the subject:



  3. Dear Father, is it possible for someone who is a consecrated virgin of the Catholic Church to marry at a certain age if she and her spouse is willing to lead a life of celibacy?


    The short answer to your question is NO.  You cannot be a formally “consecrated virgin” and also be married, even if there be an agreement with the husband to remain sexually inactive.  The ritual associated with the consecration is in itself a type of marriage ceremony (particularly in the bridal gown, veil, ring and other trappings).  The consecrated virgin marries Christ and gives herself “as a virgin” only to him. It is spiritual marriage. Unlike sisters and nuns, she does not live in a religious community, but on her own in the world. Conditions for consecrated virgins are as follows:

    They must be unmarried and must never have lived in a sexual relationship that feigns marriage (cohabitation).

    They must demonstrate proven maturity and prudence so that the Church can be assured of the person persevering in a life of chastity where they express love through the service of God, his Church and neighbor.

    They must be admitted to the consecration by the Bishop who is the local Ordinary.

    They must be a genuine virgin never having sexual congress, with the exception of cases where physical virginity was lost through an involuntary act like rape.

    They must also demonstrate the ability to materially support themselves through work, pension or other means without the financial assistance of the Church or a religious community.

  4. Hello Fr.,

    I became a Catholic this year and I very much enjoy the happiness it has brought me. One issue that I face is that I feel like I am doing this alone. My friends and relations are protestant or atheist. I reached out to the Parish for group activities such as Men’s groups or study. What groups I am finding are taking the summer off. I don’t want to waste any of the enthusiasm that I have. While I love listening to podcasts, watching videos and reading book after book after book it just isn’t enough. Do you know of any online communities that are within the Catholic Church that I could join as a supplemental? It is very important to me that I be active in my faith.

    Thank you very much for what you are doing here. God Bless.


    Because of vacations and such many groups take off during the summer. I cannot speak to your parish or community but one organization I would strongly recommend is the Knights of Columbus. Does your parish have a council? Is it part of a round table? The Knights have regular meetings and fellowship. They are Catholic men who try to live out their faith. Quarterly, the Knights must do activities in six service areas: (1) Church, (2) Council, (3) Community, (4) Family, (5) Youth and (6) Culture of Life. It will keep you busy and you will make lifelong friends. Peace!


  5. Thank you Father!!!

  6. Hello Fr Joe,

    I am a Catholic and have met someone who is also Catholic but was married and is now divorced. He has a 12 year old daughter. He says the marriage was a mistake from the very start. His Ex left him and remarried and now has two kids. Is it okay to date him?


    I will try to delineate the situation you both face.

    If his first marriage was in the Catholic Church then he will need to pursue a formal case annulment before he considers dating or the possibility of remarriage.

    If his first marriage was outside the Catholic Church then he will need to request a declaration of nullity due to a lack of canonical form.

    He will only be free if a declaration of nullity is received from the Church (Tribunal). Is there any chance that the former spouse got an annulment? Was her second marriage outside the Church? That would make matters much easier.

  7. Why do Rosary beads keep breaking on me even new ones ? Expensive ones ect … I hope I don’t sound superstitious… Is God telling me something? I’m in very hard times an cray out to Him every day almost ever moment .

    FATHER JOE: No, it is not a divine message. You are either too rough on the beads or they were made in China. Sold through AUTOM, the imported rosaries are very poor quality.

  8. I recently read an article regarding a decree from the Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield Illinois baring priests from administering the sacraments – including the Eucharist in the form of Viaticum – to unrepentant married LGBT individuals. I am a non-religious LGBT person – though I have attended Mass from time to time as I find it an environment conducive for reflection. I have no formal education in Catholic theology, but I have studied it privately and I understand this decree to be consistent with canon law (915 and 1007) – however I do not have an understanding of the basis on which the Church exercises the authority granted to Peter in such a way.

    I find it difficult to reconcile the words and actions of Jesus with canon law on this matter. Jesus invited Judas to participate in the Last Supper/First Communion. According to the Gospel of John, he did so presumably in full knowledge of what Judas had done and administered the Eucharist to Judas even though Judas did not actually confess to anything. Granted – whether Judas consumed it is not clear to me but it seems to have been his choice.

    As I understand it, the authority to provide absolution was granted by Jesus to Peter, but the method the Church has chosen to discern how to properly exercise that authority seems to be based on what Paul – who presumably met Jesus only once as an apparition and was not explicitly granted that authority – said in his first letter to the Corinthians. Why is that? Why doesn’t mercy and compassion govern the administration of the sacraments – particularly as it relates to Viaticum – rather than a strict application of tradition as communicated by Paul? How does the Church reconcile the last supper and administering the Eucharist to Judas with denial of the Eucharist to unrepentant sinners?

    I am hoping you can help provide the answers to those questions for me.


    Our Lord appointed and empowered his apostles who in turn ordained bishops to succeed them.  Apostles and bishops extended limited authority to the priests and deacons they ordained.  A priest must have faculties (permission) from his bishop to administer the sacraments.  What the bishop did in the case you mention was to limit the faculties in certain cases.  This can vary from bishop to bishop.  For instance, at one time archdiocesan priests in Washington could not absolve or remove the censure of excommunication that automatically came with the sin of abortion.  However, for many years now throughout the US (especially since 1972-73) this has not been the case.  The bishop in question is concerned about the problem of scandal and wants to preserve the Christian definition of marriage.  Not ministering in his diocese, I cannot speak to how the new restriction will be played out.  Likely what will happen is that the bishop now reserves such cases to his own immediately jurisdiction.  Either the bishop or his delegate would be able to give Absolution and/or Viaticum and Extreme Unction on a case-by-case basis once an appeal is made to him.

    Jesus is understood as God and can do as he pleases.  The apostles and their successors, while empowered to perpetuate Christ’s ministry, are still only men. When it comes to Judas, one must remember that Jesus did him no favor by allowing him to be present at the Last Supper.  Prior to the Supper, the Scriptures tell us of our Lord’s betrayer, stating that “It would be better for that man if he had never been born” (John 26:24). Do we really want to compare the damned “Judas Priest” of Christian salvation history to anyone?  Remember, the Christian principle, “Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the recipient.” We must be disposed to the graces of the sacraments.  An attempted absolution without contrition or amendment of life is sacrilege and meaningless.  Taking Holy Communion while fractured from the unity of Christ and his Church brings divine retribution and not healing and life.  While the other apostles, despite their weaknesses, become saints; Judas who was at the same table is cursed as one who would have done better had he never been born.  That is pretty severe.

    As for St. Paul, his encounter with the risen Lord is reckoned as real and after his formation in the Christian faith he is sent out from Antioch as a genuine apostle to the Gentiles.  The words of St. Paul in Scripture constitute inspired revelation and cannot be minimized.


  9. Hello Father,

    I have a charismatic friend who has a gift. One day a Vincentian priest told him that God will use him to reconcile people back to the Church. I have seen him do that and I believe his gift is genuine from God. Sometimes he will tell someone things about that person which no one has ever revealed to him and they turn out true. Fortunately he has never said things about me, It’s as though there is a block when it comes to me because he will say things about my friends which turn out true. Once he told my friend that his sister which he had never met that she was contemplating suicide and turned out true.

    Our local priest wasn’t happy with his activities and told the parishioners to stay away. This really hurt my friend so sooo much and he had to move church. He has a group that holds one day retreats, and also talks, about the Church and Our catholic faith.

    I kept distance firstly because I am not charismatic, am an extreme introvert and I prefer the quiet and contemplative, Secondly I am not sure if the activities the group holds is okay especially because I am a young convert, just 2 years in the faith.

    Thirdly, Our local priest wasn’t happy and I do not why and what should have been done to make things right.
    What would you advise father? He is my dear friend and please forgive me if that’s gossip.



    Did you actually hear this Vincentian priest say this or was it hearsay? I really cannot imagine a priest making such a statement. Charismatic gifts might be genuine, but it is best if they are truly confirmed by the Church. What you describe here bothers me and is something that one might feign or which might find a source in an unholy spirit. The priest most likely to know the truth would be the local pastor. If he says to stay away from him then I would urge abiding by his judgment. It does not sound right to me and can do incalculable damage to souls. I suspect that your friend was told to desist from this possibly “occult” activities and opted instead to change parishes. A lack of obedience to one’s pastor would be another mark against its legitimacy as a talent or gift from God. Indeed, the pursuit of secret knowledge is explicitly condemned by the faith. Any group that focuses on the Catholic faith should be authorized by just authority. Focusing upon an individual is inherently dangerous to Church unity. Pentecostal plants used to exploit such weaknesses in charismatic groups to sow the seeds of dissension and eventual ecclesial defection.

    Follow the lead of your priest. Stay away from the suspect person and his group. Join something that is promoted in your parish— centered on the Blessed Mother or the Eucharist, but not on a questionable individual.

  10. Hello Father. Is it a sin for Catholics to go to recreational places such as amusement parks on Sundays? The catechism says “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.” If my family and I go to an amusement park, are we making unnecessary demands on others and committing a sin?


    You answer the question yourself with the citation. Repeating it, the universal catechism of the Church teaches:

    [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.

  11. I was baptized Roman Catholic when I was one year old. My wife was baptized Presbyterian when she was eighteen. While growing up, my family was never the church-going type. My father believed that you did not have to go to church to believe in God and to be a good person. As a result, I never attended church. Neither did I ever receive Holy Communion and Confirmation.

    My wife and I have been married for nine years and we have three children, ages eight, six and five. We were married at a city hall. We never knew about sacraments or any traditional of getting married recognized by Roman Catholicism. We recently decided to get a fresh start on our lives and to try new things. One of these decisions is to start attending church.

    We decided that since I was baptized Roman Catholic, she would convert to the same. We had an interview with a staff member at the local church’s office. We were told that the Church does not recognize our marriage. We were told that we would have to do many steps and take a lot of time for it to be recognized. My question is this: is there a way to expedite or to get around the Church’s recognition of our marriage?

    Like I stated earlier, we have been married nine years and have three small children. We do not feel that we need to go through a marriage retreat or any of the other things. We have been legally married for nine years and did meet the requirements for marriage as we understood them: (1) committed to being together forever, (2) neither of us had prior commitments, (3) no coercion or pregnancy to get married, etc. Indeed, not only were we not forced; we did not live together before marriage, either. We were not financially dependent on each other. It was simply a case where we loved one another and realized we found the one person we ever wanted to spend a lifetime and with whom to have children together.


    It sounds to me that you have a wonderful loving relationship and family. I would urge you not to shortchange the process ahead of you. I have friends who found them in circumstances much like yours and they discovered a wealth of spiritual benefits in the stages of reception and in the convalidation of their union. Be patient.

    You both need a deeper appreciation of the Catholic faith. The RCIA process or instructions will prepare you for the sacraments. If your spouse is authentically baptized as a Presbyterian, then after instruction (starting in the fall and culminating in the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil) she would go to Confession, make an act of reception, receive the anointing of Confirmation and receive Holy Communion. As a baptized Catholic you would enter formation with her for Confession, Confirmation and Holy Communion. The Marriage Instruction for all couples requires a the filling out of the Prenuptial Investigation form, collection of baptismal certificates and a copy of the civil marriage license. The preparation for a marriage convalidation can vary depending upon the sacramental preparedness of the Catholic party or parties and the maturity of the couple. It is my understanding that some dioceses offer Pre-Cana efforts that include those that are specifically geared to convalidation of civil marriages.

    The instruction period is really a time of discernment. You should both appreciate the principal teachings of the Catholic faith before the reception of sacraments. This will also come to play in the lives of your children. Babies and little children can be baptized according to the faith and pledge of Catholic parents. Any children seven years and older will have to attend catechetical preparation prior to baptism. All the children will need annual religious education up to at least eighth or ninth grade so as to receive the other sacraments.

    Catholics should ordinarily be confirmed prior to marriage. It is possible that a dispensation may be given because of extenuating circumstances. You may feel that the Church has nothing to teach you but there is a big difference between a civil and secular view of marriage and that of Catholicism. Marriage as a sacrament is a sign of Christ’s relationship with his bride, the Church. The “unitive” element is reflective of both the couple and the intimacy of Christ with his Church. Jesus will never abandon the Church. The marital act is viewed as a renewal of the marriage covenant, both between the spouses and with Christ. The sacrament gives the couple graces to be good and faithful spouses. Their union in love makes possible the generation of new human life. But this also builds up the Church. The family is sometimes called “the little Church.” The goods of marriage include both “fides” or fidelity and “proles” or procreation. This openness to human life is a profound confidence in divine providence. Marriage in an age when it is under assault is arguably a vocation to sacrificial love. We often speak of the husband as the head of the home and the wife as the heart of the home. One flesh, a living body requires both a head and heart. Husbands become fathers and wives become mothers. While there is equality in grace and dignity, theirs is also a profoundly important complementarity in roles and life.

  12. Hello Fr. Joe,

    I have a question on what steps need to be taken when a church has to be deconsecrated and razed or possibly sold. My understanding is that the altar and crucifix are removed and used elsewhere in a diocese. But I was wondering if there are other steps that are necessary. For example, is any special treatment of the ground under the sacrarium needed, do any sacramentals that where used at Mass have to be destroyed, etc? Thank you very much for this blog. I’ve learned a great deal from it.


    I am sorry to say that what should be done is not always done. I recall a Catholic church that was sold to Pentecostals. One statue was embedded on an external wall high up in the front of the building. Since the statue of the Sacred Heart could not be reached, it was left. There was also a beautiful little grotto with the Blessed Mother. The altar stone was removed and the tabernacle was emptied and removed. When the non-Catholics took over, they bashed the altar to rubble, smashed out the stained-glass windows, took a sledgehammer to a cross on top of the building, tore out and demolished the statue of the Sacred Heart by allowing it to fall and took a sledge-hammer to Mary and her grotto. There had been and old priest’s grave near the grotto… I hope they did not forget to take him when they sold the place.

    I have seen old traditional altars on Ebay along with sacred vessels and other sacramentals. Sometimes a new church is able to salvage stained-glass from an older church, but more so than not, they go up for sale. We have a bar in Georgetown filled with religious stained-art glass from destroyed churches. It is an odd experience, having a bear and looking into a window with the IHS and Eucharist illustrated or with the Blessed Mother or even good St. Patrick. Although I suppose it would be ideal for young adults and Theology on Tap sessions with clergy.

    There are pictures online of churches in Boston that have been turned into luxury condos. God save us!

    Canon Law:

    Canon 1212 Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they have been in great measure destroyed, or if they have been permanently made over to secular usage, whether by decree of the competent Ordinary or simply in fact.

    Canon 1222 §1
    If a church cannot in any way be used for divine worship and there is no possibility of its being restored, the diocesan Bishop may allow it to be used for some secular but not unbecoming purpose.

    §2 Where other grave reasons suggest that a particular church should no longer be used for divine worship, the diocesan Bishop may allow it to be used for a secular but not unbecoming purpose. Before doing so, he must consult the council of priests; he must also have the consent of those who could lawfully claim rights over that church, and be sure that the good of souls would not be harmed by the transfer.

  13. Hello Fr:

    We were married in the Church, but now she says that she didn’t really take the vows because she had mental reservations. I have begun to wonder. If we continue to live together is it a sin since the marriage was not confected?

    FATHER JOE: When a spouse cites “mental reservations” about getting married, he or she invites disgrace and ridicule. The expression is merely a euphemism for prevarication or LYING. The trouble with such grounds when it comes to marriage cases and annulments is how can anyone know if the person is even now not lying? Any claim to integrity is lost and truth is the ultimate victim. I would suggest disregarding her claim. If I were you I would tell her that it is too late, that you love her, that she is married and that her salvation depends upon her being a loving and faithful wife… “until death” do you part.

  14. My friends are atheists.


    I would suggest that you also find some Christian friends.

    Increasing numbers of people in our world are formed by the secularism, materialism and humanism. There are influential celebrities and “pop” scientists that espouse atheism and openly mock religion and the belief in a deity. They reject God because he cannot be examined under a microscope or added into their mathematical calculations about the universe. Many also reject faith because of the scandal and ignorance of believers. Others look at a planet suffering natural calamities and moral evil and in reaction utterly spurn the notion that any higher power is in charge or even cares. They exhibit a posture of elitism or even snobbery against people of faith. Often they will disavow the values attributed to religion, particularly about the sanctity of human life and the nature of marriage as a perpetual relationship or covenant between a man and a woman. Religion is regarded as a convenient myth that modern men must now evolve beyond— thus making man (detached from God) the measure for all truth, even if it should be capricious or subject to the fads of the day.

    You should witness as a person of faith to your non-believing friends. But how can you pour out the message of the Gospel and our loving God if you should be an empty vessel? You need to study your faith more deeply. This means the Bible, a good catechism and the many books that show how the faith is credible against the arguments of atheists. Catholics believe in the complementarity of truth. Ours is not faith over reason but faith and reason. That is why the Holy Father has special scientific commissions composed of both believers and non-believers who research topics of universal interest and concern.

    I am having doubts as to whether I should believe or not.


    Your faith has already collapsed. Along with study, you must also shore up your prayer life. Faith is ultimately a gift of the Holy Spirit. You must make the ground fertile for it to grow in your life. Face squarely the terrible alternative to faith. Science and medicine can provide many things to benefit our lives, but they cannot save you. If there is no God and no heaven, then all to which you have to look forward is becoming the food of worms. You will live and die and no one will ever miss you or know you were here. Earthly graves and monuments will turn to dust. The sun will grow old and expand, eventually swallowing up the earth. The stars will burn up all their nuclear fuel and the lights will go out on everything, everywhere. That will be the end of the story— forever. That is what the atheists have to offer.

    What they fail to fully appreciate is that if they were right, then this should have been the story all along— no light, no stars and planets, no trees or butterflies, no fish and no men. Time and space themselves should not be. Nothing comes from nothing. And yet, here we are. We are aware and are alive. How can this be? The Church answers where atheist scientists can only guess or fear to tread— “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light (Genesis 1:3).

    If God made the world so perfect then why does evil exist?


    What God made was good but we do not teach that it was perfect. Because of the fall of our first parents, sin, suffering and death entered the world. There would be no preternatural gifts. The immediate companionship with God was lost. A harmony that God had offered was shattered. We misused the precious gift of freedom that we had been given. Of course, not all was lost. We were given as well the promise of restoration and mercy. This promise is answered in Jesus Christ. He takes upon himself the price of sin and offers atonement on the Cross. Sin and death are conquered but not undone. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an agnostic astrophysicist and (within his own field) a fabulous teacher. But the Christian notion of the “undone” effects of Original sin is one of the reasons why he struggles with the Christian kerygma. He says that it pushes into some uncertain future the proof that God exists and that he could make all things well. Dr. Tyson marvels at the universe as a scientist but as a small mortal man he cannot get past his observation that the universe seems bent on killing us.

    Many today would insist that if Jesus were really the Son of God then why the elongated period between his first coming and second coming? Why did he rise from the dead, show himself to a few and then disappear? First, Christian soteriology is not meant to serve as a proof for God’s existence. It is already assumed that he exists and the question is how he desires to save us. Second, just as scientists speak of the evolution of physical or organic structures, so too does the Church speak about the gradual formation of a people where God reveals himself according to their capacity to know him and to receive his message. This revelation comes both from creation itself and from supernatural intervention. The history of salvation notes a movement from primitive religion with its sacrifices to the calling of Abraham (as tribe and family) to Moses (the Decalogue and the Promised Land) to David (a holy nation) to the Babylonian exile and rebuilding of the Temple to the incarnation and work of Christ to the institution of the Church to the Second Coming.

    The time between the first and second comings of Christ is not a problem to be explained away by people of faith. The Church is given the opportunity to reflect upon revelation for an ever deepening appreciation. Cardinal Newman spoke about this as an organic development of doctrine. It allows for a maturation of faith within the material world. It is an expression of God’s bounteous mercy. Our solidarity with Christ gives us hope and strength even as we must endure our own crosses in a broken world. The Word of God and the sacraments allow many generations of people to be born and to come into saving relationship with the Lord. Had there been no period in-between, all of us now living would have been deprived of this wonderful opportunity.

    Christ is not visible to our sight because such proximity would hamper or destroy the freedom that we now enjoy. When one directly faces the ultimate good, that good must be chosen. God did not want ants or robots to blindly follow him. He wanted men and women to know, to love, to serve and to give him glory and praise in this world and forever in the next. Just as the angels were given their veiled moment to say yes or no to God, we are also given an opportunity for decision. The angels live outside of time so there decision is decisive and eternal. Our orientation is judged not simply but any one moment but by a lifetime of discipleship. When we die it is then that where we stand before God becomes immutable. We are promised, (not as a pie-in-the-sky fantasy), that one day our Lord will consummate all things to himself— then all tears will be wiped away and there will be no more sickness, suffering or death. That might sound like an outrageous claim but it is what we believe. This does not mean that we can thus ignore the dying or excuse injustice or turn a blind eye to human pain; rather, we must do all we can as sentinels for God preparing for that day when our Lord’s “kingdom will come.”

    Where is he to help us at this time?

    FATHER JOE: Our Lord is present in his Church. That is why we run schools, hospitals, soup kitchens and give a voice for the oppressed and the unborn.

    I honestly do not know. Please help me. I want to believe again.

    FATHER JOE: Then open your eyes, not just the ones in your head but also in your heart and mind.

  15. I experience a similar phenomena which is called intrusive thoughts which are common in people with a history of trauma and doesn’t make you a bad person but it’s terribly distressing a counselor can give you more information if you feel this is what it is

  16. I have not received your comments for a month, although your site tells me I am still subscribed. Is there a reason for this?

    Thanks – Diana Strauss

    FATHER JOE: I have no clue. I never touch those settings.

  17. Hi Father I was Responding to your response about temptations. It is my experience to be severely tempted while praying. That is my norm. The temptations are memories of abuse I experienced and temptations related to it. That what I mean scary outlandish. I see things and experience things in a spiritual way. I know I am not the only one. So I was asking any suggestions spiritually. We all have our spiritual battles so I believe if we are confronted with something spiritual we need to deal with it on a spiritual faith level. I’ve heard two suggestions to pray through it, or distract yourself by doing something else, or take the temptations as a part of prayer. This is a constant struggle sometimes leave me in tears sometimes angry. I’m aware of PTSD. I get that. I’m seeing a counselor but I am asking how do you deal with this on a spiritual level. I apologize that I did not explain further. What are your thoughts on this?

    FATHER JOE: I suppose holistic medicine would suggest treating certain ailments with psychological counseling, medication and prayer. God can certainly extend his healing in response to our orations and his providence. Nevertheless, I must speak frankly even though it might be hard to hear. Your many communications suggest to me that your issues are not immediately spiritual ones, but rather mental and emotional concerns best served by psychologists and doctors. Indeed, I would not be surprised if references to spiritual attacks, temptation, and an oppressive presence are merely the masking of psychological issues. You want a spiritual cure that would reaffirm a singular demonic assault that is probably not taking place. I cannot give you that. I hope I have not upset you. I will pray that the intervention of learned professionals and time will bring you liberation and recovery. You need to get beyond the trauma and the sense of lasting victimization that weighs you down. I pray that you will take charge of your life— demand justice— find strength and courage— cast out the darkness and walk with freedom into the light. God bless!

  18. I went out to my garden to pray this morning. I have been sleep deprived and overwhelmed from visiting and helping my aging parents. I love my famiy but was not at peace. So I started on telling God who I resented (my stress and tiredness had me seeing only the negative sides of their personalities and not the positive). Next thing I knew God was named as one of my resentments.at that point my anger flared
    I called out to God that I was sick of praying, sick of the guessing game of if I was using the right words or not, sick of waiting for joy in my life (and pleasure is not joy) I wanted hope, and reassurance and celebration, and I called God a jerk and a few worse swear words and even said I hated Him. I told him I was sick of my long years of worry and anxiety and that Silence! No reassurance! Then I felt instant remorse
    I prayed I was sorry and asked for forgiveness and told God I didn’t mean it
    But in a weird way I still feel as if another power looks on at me and is trivialising the attempts I make to brighten the day when things are stressful and I’m fighting against depression. It’s like hearing derisive comments about pathetic attempts to do something creative or small gestures of loving because it’s all going to end up in sorrow and emptiness in the end.


    You write: “I went out to my garden to pray this morning.”

    Do you remember the story of someone else who went to a garden so as to pray?

    Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:36-39)

    You may have to care for aging parents, but our Lord had the weight of the world upon his shoulders. No one wants to encounter suffering and dying, but such is the measure of the cross that we must take up if we are to follow Jesus. Our Lord found some respite with the fellowship of his friends and time taken away from the crowds. But the storm clouds were ever looming before him. Just as you do what you do because you love your family, it is the mystery of love that brings Jesus into solidarity with us. We are not promised perfect happiness in this world, but we are guaranteed that God walks with us and that one day all tears will be wiped away.

    Given your long litany of discontent, I am not surprised that you exploded against God. It is clear that you feel overwhelmed and that you are not happy with your life right now. While you mention only one challenge, the care for aging parents whom you love, I suspect there is much more going on. Look at your list of responsive negatives:

    • sleep deprived
    • overwhelmed
    • not at peace
    • stress and tiredness (stressful)
    • seeing only the negative
    • resentments
    • anger
    • fighting against depression
    • no reassurance
    • going to end up in sorrow and emptiness (despair)

    Given how you feel, it is no wonder that you are unhappy. God understands the trial and he also appreciates the truth about human hearts. More than guilt or remorse about bad-mouthing God, he would have you find healing and true peace. God is neither Aladdin’s Djinn obliged to grant wishes nor the mythical goddess Nemesis eager to enact divine retribution and revenge.

    Given real struggles, it would not be wrong to seek counseling and even to see a doctor to help with the chemistry of your emotions. We all need hope and sometimes help from others in lifting the dark veil or shroud that would smother us. Do not close the doors and windows to assistance by reducing such efforts to “pathetic attempts to do something creative.” Do not stop looking for joy even if your efforts feel like “trivializing attempts.”

    You might pray, but once hope is compromised, faith is also quickly devalued of meaning. Again, note how you admit it with your own words:

    • sick of praying
    • sick of the guessing game
    • sick of waiting for joy
    • sick of my long years of worry and anxiety
    • sick of silence

    You are beginning to wonder if you are only talking to yourself. The word “sick” here is telling. You are ailing spiritually and need the divine physician. I would urge reading the Gospels and praying with others. Take the sacraments regularly and find fellowship with other believers. While you have obligations to others, you also have a duty to yourself. Take a break from your labors and do something that is fun and relaxing for you. If Jesus could take time out from his labors, then so should you. The batteries run down unless we find time to charge them up. Make your garden, not simply a place for the problems of the day to gang up upon you, but as a needed oasis from the storm of life. I pray that the angels that ministered to Jesus will also come to you. God bless you!

  19. Hi Father. I just had a follow up question regarding my recent question about scandal and tv. You said there are serious issues with blasphemy in shows. About six months or a year ago I was watching this show called “Lost” (by myself),about a group of people stranded on an island. In parts of a few episodes, corrupt priests smuggled drugs in statues of the Blessed Mother to the island. I tried to fast forward the show when those parts came on, but I also did watch some of those parts i order to understand the story. I don’t think I confessed watching this right away- not until I had been to Confession a few times since I watched it- because I wasn’t really sure if it was a mortal sin or not. Then I did confess it and asked the priest if it was okay to watch and I think he said it was okay. So did I commit a mortal sin by watching that show and if I did, were all those confessions invalid since I didn’t bring it up in COnfession right away? (Honestly I can’t even remember if I brought it up in confession right away- i might have- but it was a while ago) Sorry if this is confusing.

    FATHER JOE: Corruption exists no matter if actors are playing real or feigned clergy. I did not see the entire series, but I would tend to agree with the priest that no sin was committed. Fiction often depicts both virtue and vice. Some of my favorite actors often played villains. There is something of value to be found in a morality play. The problem today is that modernity often misunderstands the meaning of goodness and buys into weak stereotypes about God and religion.

  20. Hi Father Hope you are well
    This Question has to do with prayer.
    When you are praying is it normal to be hounded with series of temptations to the point you just stop praying. The temptations are a bit scary and outlandish. If you say no to them out loud but they keep coming back. What do you do?

    FATHER JOE: Temptations can come at any time but I cannot say that it is usual that one would be singularly tempted by “scary and outlandish” temptations while trying to pray.

  21. Dear Fr Joe,
    Hope you are keeping fine.
    Is it allowed for religious sisters or seminarians to distribute Holy Communion?
    Thanks as always for your blog.
    God bless you father.

    FATHER JOE: They would have to be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. A seminarian in theology might be installed as an Acolyte.

  22. is it the sin of scandal to watch a tv show with other people where the characters sometimes curse or it is sometimes slightly inappropriate? im not sure if this is my scrupulosity getting the best of me or not

    FATHER JOE: WE live in a world that is saturated with questionable images, rude language and provocative lifestyles. We should be cognizant of our witness, but the level for scandal seems to have shifted. We should not delight in such things. We should urge and promote more wholesome alternatives. But I would shy away from the word sin in all such settings. Of course, there are sinful programs and I am not entirely sure what shows you might mean. There are serious issues with graphic vulgarity, blasphemy and pornography.

  23. Father,

    I’m having a bit of a debate with a fellow. Is it possible to receive communion if a person doesn’t believe Mary was conceived without sin, that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and believes justification is by Grace?

    Please help me to respond to him.

    FATHER JOE: One should be a believing Catholic to receive Holy Communion. The person you describe would no longer be a Catholic in terms of accepting the revealed faith. Reject the Pope and you renounce Catholicism. The AMEN said at communion time functions as a faith profession… about the real presence in the Eucharist… and about the the Church and faith that extends the sacrament. The AMEN means YES I BELIEVE in the risen Eucharistic Jesus… in the continuing role that Mary plays as the Immaculate Conception… in the apostles and the ROCK upon which Christ built his Church. The Church has the right to regulate her sacraments. If your friend renounces key elements of the faith and the authority established by Christ then he is not welcome to take the sacrament. This can change with repentance and continuing conversion. But it would be hypocritical to say AMEN and take the sacrament when he really means NO and that he DOES NOT believe.

  24. Hi Father.let say there is someone who has struggled with addiction his whole life and is doing everything possible to overcome his addiction. He has been going to confession and has been praying daily for grace. One night he is very depressed and down and watch pornography that he had forgotten about in the house. He tries to fight the urge but gives in. Immediately afterwards he feels sorry and deep remorse. The next morning is Sunday and he tries to go to confession but cannot get to the priest in time. Should he go to Communion? Thanks n God bless

    FATHER JOE: One might make a good act of contrition with the resolution to go to confession ASAP and then make the decision in conscience about reception. Since one is not obliged to take Holy Communion each week, attendance at Mass would suffice as far as the precepts of the Church are concerned.

  25. Is the Prayer to the Immaculate heart of the Virgin Mary idolatry!


    No, because the object of all Catholic prayer is almighty God. Prayers that invoke Mary and the saints signify INTERCESSORY prayer. We pray for and with each other. We believe in the communion of the saints and the resurrection of the dead. The Church exists in pilgrimage (on Earth), in purification (in Purgatory) and in glory (in Heaven). Remember the forms of prayer: (1) praise, (2) thanksgiving, (3) contrition, (4) supplication, (5) intercession, and (6) reparation (joining ourselves to the saving work of Christ).

    O JESUS, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you the prayers, works and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your divine Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; and in particular for the intentions of the Apostleship of Prayer.

    In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    Blessed be the holy and undivided Trinity, now and for evermore. Amen.

    Come, O Holy Spirit, replenish my heart, and enkindle in it the fire of your divine love. Amen.

    ETERNAL GOD, most holy and adorable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the beginning and end of all things, in whom we live, move, and have our being, I firmly believe that you are here present; I adore you with the most profound humility; I praise you; I give you thanks from the bottom of my heart for having created me after your own image and likeness, and redeemed me with the precious blood of your Son; for having hitherto preserved me, and brought me safe to the beginning of this day. Behold, O Lord, I offer you my whole being, and in particular all my thoughts, words, and actions, together with such crosses and contradictions as I may meet within the course of this day. I consecrate them entirely to the glory of your name, in union with those of Jesus Christ, my Savior, that through his infinite merits they may find acceptance in your sight. Give them, O Lord, your blessing. May your divine love animate them; and may they all tend to the greater honor of your Sovereign Majesty. Amen.

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