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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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3,002 Responses

  1. I was raised Roman Catholic but as I entered young adulthood I abandoned my faith and became an atheist. Now I want to believe again but I still have doubts. How can I ask God to give me a sign that He is there? I want to believe but I can’t. Help me Father.

    FATHER JOE:

    There are many good arguments for the existence of God and certainly you should explore the truths of faith. However, having said this, conversion and/or growing in faith does not simply mean knowing information but is about having a real relationship or friendship with the Lord. I would suggest the following two books:

    Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion by Rebecca V. Cherico
    THE JEWISH NUN by Lazaro Droznes

    All thinking people struggle with doubts and concerns. We should neither run away from such questions with a blind faith nor readily despair into faithlessness. There are answers and the living God often shows his face and makes his presence felt by those who call upon him. Be patient with yourself and start praying again… even if the words seem empty at first.

    You might also look at the story and blog of a prominent atheist blogger who converted to Catholicism, Leah Libresco.

    https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2015/01/14/my-journey-atheist-catholic-11-questions-leah-libresco

    God bless,
    Father Joe

  2. Hello Father,

    Before I proceed, I want to say “sorry” for bothering you with the same issue again; I have considered your advice and hope to follow suit. I am currently waiting for law school. That will give me the opportunity to be away from home and to clear my head. I am old enough to move out of the house but I want to go to law school first. With that being said, I have a question: since I’m still at home, I was thinking that I would quit bathing my sister for a week to see if that will get anyone’s attention. However, I don’t have the heart to abandon her and leave her all dirty like that. Would it be a sin if I do so? I tried it for two days but nobody noticed, so I had to resume the responsibility of taking care of her. My older sister happened to bath her yesterday just because I jokingly told her that if I ran an errand for her, she should bathe her.

    Today I reminded my sister about giving her a bath and she interpreted the whole arrangement as a tit for tat scenario. Knowing the sort of person that she is, the next time she would give her a bath might be after a week or more.

    I don’t complain anymore because it usually ends up in a fight. My sister never hesitates to ask for favors, but when I bring up the subject of helping out more often with our sister, she gets so angry and asks to be left alone.

    Would it be a sin if I stopped doing favors for her since she doesn’t help me out? Am I being overly sensitive? I now look at my family in a different light.

    Do you think I’m attaching my sense of self-worth to this issue? I feel unloved because of this and feel the need to be away from them for sometime but I feel guilty and bad for thinking so, I feel like it’s tantamount to revenge and unforgiveness but im not sure. To be honest when I’m asked to do things I feel reluctant deep inside but since I don’t want to be an unforgiving person, I go ahead and do it and hate myself afterwards, I feel as though for peace to reign , I have to shut up about my sister’s issue and carry on without complaint, but is that the way to live? I feel very confused, I don’t know what to think, I used to be a confident person but these days I don’t think I know who I am anymore, I don’t know how to relate with them anymore so I’m in need of guidance. Sorry for such a long post, I wanted to give a clear picture of what I’ve been ruminating on for the past few weeks, thanks and God bless.

    FATHER JOE:

    It would be wrong to hurt your needy sister in any way so as to make a lesson about shared service to the others. It may be difficult, but there is grace in loving and caring for her. Their failure to assist will weigh heavy with the Lord when they face judgment.

    Following the Scriptural mandate, and if they are practicing Christians, the matter might first be taken to the local church for intervention. This will not make you very popular but sometimes we have to take hard stands to preserve justice and to further compassion.

    It sounds to me that the poor girl will suffer great neglect after you move out for school. If this should prove the case, and given that the primary guardians (parents) neglect their charge, l would urge formal reporting to the social service authorities. The endangerment of persons (which includes issues like cleaning) is regarded as criminal neglect. If they will not take care of her out of love, maybe they will do so when faced with fines and possible jail time?

  3. I am learning to become a sacristan. One question I have – Do I bow or genuflect in front of a closed tabernacle that is located behind an altar? Does it matter if I have a candle lighter or another type of religious/sacred object in my hand(s)? I want to do the right thing. Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: It is customary to genuflect while passing in front of the tabernacle. But a bow is often substituted, especially for older people and those with physical ailments (as with the knees and back).

  4. If a man is baptized Catholic but not taught the faith and becomes Protestant and marries a protestant, are they validly married? If the wife later becomes Catholic but the husband stays Protestant, do they have to be validated?

    FATHER JOE: If a man is baptized a Catholic then he is a Catholic, all questions of catechesis aside. Unless there has been an act of formal separation from the Church, and how this might be done is still not clear to me, then any marriage before a Protestant minister or a civil magistrate would be presumed as invalid. I know, it does not seem fair, particularly if a person were baptized as an infant. If there is a conversion of one of the parties, then YES, there would need to be a convalidation.

  5. Hi,
    I have a question about confession. I wasn’t sure if I was really sorry when I said the Act of Contrition, but I told my self to try my very hardest to mean it, and that would be good enough. I thought I had true sorrow because I was trying my best to be sorry, but then I wasn’t so sure. I was actually sorry for my sins, but at the time I didn’t understand that sorrow was more than a feeling. Did I do something wrong by continuing the confession?

    FATHER JOE: Sorrow is usually presumed when people make the effort to go to Confession. What is sorrow or contrition? First, we should strive for perfect contrition. We regret dishonoring God who we are to love above all things. I often encourage people to ponder the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We pierced that heart with our transgressions. Our sins targeted Christ on the Cross. Of course, even imperfect contrition or the fear of punishment in hell and the loss of heaven are sufficient for absolution.

  6. I would consider stoppage of my immune-suppressant medications. I am a heart transplant recipient as of 2009. I now been diagnosed with stage 4 kidney-disease and at age 73 I doubt I could find a donor. I won’t go thru dialysis. I don’t want to lose out on Heaven and if I quit my meds is that considered suicide?

    FATHER JOE: Failure to take care of yourself (and that means medicine as well) can indeed be sinful, although the degree depends upon what is done or what is not done. Taking your prescribed medicine is probably normative care and it should be continued. Direct killing as in poison would certainly be grievously wrong. Sometimes there is no running away from the Cross.

  7. Hi father,
    I am university student and trying to be a faithful catholic. Unfortunately, I struggle with being scrupulous. I am working on bring less scrupulous. But I do have a question.
    Me and my friends were dancing to our old favourite music and had the music video. We realized that most of the videos had female actress made to be very immodest. Since we were all girls, we didn’t feel lust or envy. But the music videos did contain immodesty and few inappropriate dancing/ expression. I realised it’s better not watch these kind of music videos. But are we in a state of mortal sin?
    Also what is teaching of catholic church regarding impurity in music video?is it always a grave sin? this generation seems to be filled with suspects of Immodesty and impurity.

    FATHER JOE:

    Not knowing what videos and what gestures, accurate moral gravity is hard to determine. However, we should be earnest in avoiding sin of any caliber. Venial sin should not be viewed as something easily tolerated. Aware of the current status of popular entertainment, I have been disappointed that many talented entertainers exploit the erotic and vulgar. When MTV first started, many videos were creative, funny and sometimes moving. Today, the channel is not worth watching. Videos are all cut from the same mold— lewd dancing, lack of dress or modesty, vulgar lyrics, etc. It is sad but producers are more about the money than the craft. If the mob wants trash then they will serve it to them.

    Young women should certainly appreciate their beauty, strength, talents and attractiveness. They should certainly be able to have innocent fun with other girls. But why do we have to place the bar of behavior so low? Why must they demean themselves according to the stereotypes that certain ungodly men would impose upon them? In any case, make a good act of contrition, and start to ponder how Christian women might witness for the faith and take back the general landscape of our culture for goodness, decency and purity.

    Music videos like music must be judged in a case-by-case basis. There are some productions that cross the line with nudity, simulated sex scenes, vulgarity in words and actions, and espoused violence against persons. I was shocked and sickened a few years ago by listening to the songs, mostly rap, that were selected by young teens. Certain songs referred to women by the “B” word, genitals were mentioned, and sexual intimacy was literally defined as rape. It made me weep for the children. Such music and videos, in my estimation, would certainly be the matter and/or occasion of mortal sin.

  8. Hello there,
    I grew up a Catholic and was baptized when I was 10 or 11. I later became a seventh day Adventist but I am back as a Catholic now. My question is, is it wrong to divorce your husband then move on with someone else? I’ve read and heard about it and it’s bothering me. We got married in court but we didn’t do a church wedding. Things didn’t go very well then I left him, we are separated and will divorce in few months. Will I go to hell because of this? Does it mean I can’t get married again until my ex husband dies? Please help me understand, thank you.

    FATHER JOE: Given that you are a baptized Catholic, a civil marriage would have no standing in the Church. After your divorce you should apply for a Declaration of Nullity Because of a Lack (Defect) in Canonical Form. Along with the petition, you will need to submit a copy of your baptismal certificate, marriage license and divorce decree. This would free you to pursue any other romantic interest.

  9. Last year I went to I live with my half sister, so we could begin to know eachother. We didn’t grow up together and only met 6 years ago. While I was there I got involved with her boyfriend. We fell in love and he was going to end things with her and be with me. My sister found out she was pregnant and things got complicated. A few months later she found out about the secret relationship. A year had gone by now and the guy & I still are in love and want to be together, I just really am not sure if this would be ok to be with him & get married and have children of our own bc they have a child together, I’m not sure how this fits in religiously..I am a Christian and I do feel horrible for betraying my sister in that way. But I love him. And everytime I look up verses to try to find the answer I see where it says to not be with a siblings husband/wife but they were never married. Weren’t even planning on ever being married. They just dyed for a while and ended up having a baby together. Please help me figure out what’s best.

    FATHER JOE: He impregnated your sister but had a secret love relationship with you? I suspect that you would both be better off with him out of your lives. This speaks poorly about his character and yours is also taking a beating.

  10. If I give water to my thirsty chickens is it a corporal act of mercy, or does this only apply to humans?

    FATHER JOE: You have a basic duty to care for your livestock. Works of mercy are directed toward “persons” and not “things.”

  11. On Sunday, is it wrong to go to amusement parks, tours, or museums? I know it’s recreation for families, but don’t they make other people work on Sunday by doing those activities?

    FATHER JOE:

    Here are some past responses on this or similar questions:

    RESPONSE 1

    The commandment requires that we keep the Lord’s Day holy. The Hebrew Sabbath pointed to creation. The Catholic/Christian Sunday pointed to our re-creation in Jesus Christ. Christians applied this commandment to Sunday, which was called the Lord’s Day in honor of the resurrection. The early Jewish Christians were expelled from the synagogues but they still had their Sunday morning gatherings for Christian prayer and the celebration of the agape and the Lord’s Supper. This transition directed by the Church but which occurred naturally became more complete with the many Gentile converts. Keeping the Lord’s Day included both worship and rest. We are reminded to make time to honor God. While the Church would prefer that believers spend Sundays at church and relaxing with their families; we are also cognizant that many need to work on Sunday (because of the public good) and/or because they need to financially sustain themselves and their families. Particularly when done from sacrificial love, God will not condemn his children.

    RESPONSE 2

    We should try to do as much of our work before Sunday. While not necessarily a sin, as many must work to keep their employment, the real question is whether time is made for God, for family and for proper rest.

    RESPONSE 3

    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.

  12. Help me Father!

    I think my teenage daughter might be possessed!

    She is acting strangely and keeps losing her temper with me.

    She won’t eat and becomes upset at the mention of God or anything holy.

    Is there any way to tell for sure?

    And if it is the work of a demon what can I do?

    FATHER JOE

    There is no way for me to make such a determination on the internet. She may only have a grievance with you. There are often natural causes for issues of temper or even personality changes, like the influence of drugs and alcohol and mental conditions (as with the bi-polar).

    I suspect she is mad with you about something concrete or tangible.

    As for those wanting to make discernment, here are a few pertinent questions:

    Do you notice any change when you privately or secretly pray for her? Extended prayer of any kind usually incites a reaction.

    Are there efforts to frighten you, as with odd facial expressions and eerie voices? Usually the devil tends to employ vulgar language, especially against religious persons, our Lord and the Blessed Mother.

    Has there been any obsession with ghosts, talking with the dead, devils, and acquiring magical powers?

    Has there been any involvement with the occult, or the use of talisman, charms, tarot cards, Ouija boards, etc.?

    [CCC 2116] “Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”

    Has anyone uttered a curse against her or the household?

    Have there been any external signs… knocking sounds, paranormal movement of objects, strange rashes or marks upon the body, etc.?

    Have there been any internal signs… a sense of a hidden presence, awareness of secret knowledge, the ability to speak previously unknown languages, etc.?

    Have there been any ghostly manifestations or disembodied voices heard?

    Other signs could just as likely have natural sources: addictive sins, depression and mental illness, emotional upset, sudden or new health issues, perverted or unnatural desires, etc.

  13. What does God look like?

    FATHER JOE: God is a perfect spirit and such are invisible. The second Person of the Blessed Trinity became man in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God and man. The incarnation is what changes the economy of images. God takes to himself a human face.

  14. Why is masturbation a mortal sin? If you’ve done it in the past is It too late to repent? Will you go to Hell? I’ve done it before and I’m guilty. What do I do?

    FATHER JOE:

    Here are some useful past responses:

    RESPONSE 1

    There is a profound difference between the admiration of beauty in God’s creation and fantasies about manipulation and corruption. Lust devalues the person as an object to satisfy concupiscent human wants. Love raises up the dignity of a person as a subject that matters and for whom in a rightly ordered passion we would sacrifice something of ourselves. Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    RESPONSE 2

    Sexual activity should not be depreciated to the level of recreation. The body is not a plaything. the conjugal union is a profound self-donation. Sexual activity is limited to husbands and wives. The marital act is that type of act that is open to the generation of new human life and which fosters the fidelity and unity of the spouses. Given human weakness and how sexual expression is not utterly under human control, there may be accidents or mistakes in judgment. Couples might intend to complete the marital act but biological issues may impede it or cause an accident. There might also be an outside interruption, as when there is a household emergency or a small child innocently runs to the parents’ bedroom. Couples should not be fearful or scrupulous about their intimacy. But they should always be respectful of this tremendous power that God has deigned to share with them. God gives us right and wrong but the incarnation demonstrates that he appreciates and is in solidarity with humanity. He understands our struggles and is always ready to forgive his children who love him and each other.

    RESPONSE 3

    Why is masturbation regarded as wrong and as a sin? Here is what the universal catechism says about the sin:

    [CCC 2352] By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.” / To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that can lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

    Intentional sexual self-gratification (sometimes termed as self-pollution) is contrary to the natural purpose for the human sexual power or act. The Church contends that sexual activity must always be in terms of congress between a man and woman within the holy covenant of matrimony. Outside of marriage— in masturbation, heterosexual fornication (according to nature) and homosexual acts (contrary to nature)— the activity is wrong and sinful. Sexual expression is directed toward marital intimacy and the act of propagation (non-contraceptive vaginal intercourse). Masturbation short-circuits the whole meaning of human sexuality. Instead of expressing love and unity with another person, a narcissistic self-absorption is pursued instead. Pleasure or gratification is targeted for its own sake instead of as an enticement to be shared in furthering the fidelity and unity of spouses. In contrast to the donation of self to another, masturbation or Onanism is inherently selfish. Masturbation can become an addictive behavior, turning one increasing in on oneself and away from healthy relationships and prospects for marriage and family. This is the very opposite of what true love is about. Young people, given immaturity and the changing hormones or body chemistry, frequently fall into masturbation in their teen years. Here it is most probably a venial sin. However, if left unchecked it can become habitual and/or mortal. What the body does has an effect upon the soul. Given how it feeds selfishness and self-absorption, this wrongful activity has an intrinsic gravity toward mortal sin. The heart becomes hardened. What should be good and wholesome becomes something bad and sordid. It can become a sickness of the soul.

    Masturbation and sexual addiction has often been compared to alcoholism. It often becomes difficult to stop. There is a sense of being evacuated of grace. The person will often feel a terrible weight of shame. This profound sense of guilt will either bring one to the sacrament of Penance (so that the work of healing can begin) or there will be a further turning away from virtue toward vice. The man or woman will rationalize actions and seek to justify his or her immoral and sexual license. The person denies to himself that he is doing anything wrong. This leads to the handmaid of masturbation, the use of pornography to fuel lustful fantasies. Our society has made this jump very easy and the media has attempted to make pornography mainstream on television and the internet. The high of sexual gratification in masturbation and pornography can poison relationships and create seeds for destruction in subsequent marriages. Not only is the sin of coveting another’s spouse violated, but pornography and sexual fantasies encourage virtual adultery. The bodies of others, frequently those of women, are dehumanized and treated as meat for hungry dogs. There is a general loss of respect for persons and their bodies. Some have even noted correlations to physical and sexual abuse of others. Every man and woman is someone’s son or daughter. We are all children of God— not nameless flesh to appease the beast.

    Finally, the marital act (the use of the sexual faculties in marriage) is rightly directed to the unity in the sacrament. Both fidelity of the spouses and the generation of new human life are at the heart of this wonderful gift of sexuality given by God to men and women. Masturbation by comparison is not life-giving. This should be the clearest natural indication that there is something wrong with it. As spiritual-corporeal composites, we are our bodies. The human body was never intended as a plaything. Indeed, it is so precious that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity took to himself a full human nature and body in order to redeem us. As Catholics and Christians, we should never overlook this fact that with the incarnation our humanity is raised to a higher dignity. We should always honor this truth by how we treat our bodies and those of others.

    Chastity is real and possible, both within and outside marriage. Modesty and purity should again be encouraged for teens and adults, men and women alike. It is no wonder that at a time when marriage as an institution is in trouble, that both virginity and celibacy find themselves ridiculed. If we are to reclaim our culture for Christ then we must not neglect the issue of human sexuality. We must also address the sense of alienation that growing numbers of modern men and women feel. Many fall prey to the sin discussed here because of loneliness. But like drinking, you cannot appease your thirst by drinking polluted water. We need the clean and refreshing water the Jesus offers from beside the well. If any should struggle with such sins, please do not despair. Invite God’s mercy and grace into your lives through frequent Confession and the reception of the Eucharist.

  15. Why does God let bad things happen to good people? Why are there starving children in Africa and people dying of cancer? Why does He let good people suffer or die? Why doesn’t God help them? Is it punishment for a previous sin or can God not prevent all evil?

    FATHER JOE:

    Here are a couple of past responses you might find useful:

    RESPONSE 1

    We have freedom but we are also limited. We must deal with brokenness in the natural order and in ourselves. Such is the cost of human rebellion. Why did God allow the holy innocents to die in the Christ-child’s stead? Why did he allow the early Christians to suffer martyrdom? Why does he permit ISIS extremists today to chop off the heads of Catholic believers? Why does he allow abortion? Why does he allow abuse? The problem of pain and suffering is a difficult one. However, we must remember that while much in the way of harmony and healing must await the final consummation, we have a God in Jesus who is in solidarity with the dark side of human existence. He knows the terrible price of sin: betrayal, abandonment, torture and death. He takes up his Cross and asks that we take up ours and follow him. We do not live in a perfect world, but there is grace and God has not orphaned us. One day all tears will be wiped away.

    Many have asked that God would protect us from ourselves. But I suspect that he would prefer that we imitated him in his concern for the marginalized, the poor and the hurting. We need strength and courage, as well as faith. There are some prizes that cannot be given away but which must be won. I have no crystal ball to divine providence and the mystery of pain. As a man of faith, all I can do is try to make a difference in my own life for the good, and humbly trust that God knows what he is doing.

    RESPONSE 2

    The problem of pain or suffering is a real mystery. Christ died as a failed prophet. He was betrayed by his own and condemned as a common criminal. The fact that he was the “innocent one” makes his sense of abandonment and pain unimaginable. He literally carried the price for the sins of the world. While answers may fail to suffice, the faith gives us them all the same. Our Lord did not take away suffering and death but he did place himself in solidarity with us. When I was a boy my asthma was so bad that I could not sleep. I was yelled at because my wheezing kept people up. I would cough up blood. I could not run and play as the other children did. Again and again, I prayed to God, “Why, why did you make me this way?” I would cry alone in the darkness. I felt abandoned. Little did I know that this adversity brought me closer to God— I joined my sufferings to his for the reparation of sin. My constant talks with God probably fueled my vocation. As a man I still struggle with respiratory issues. Now there is the addition of a back with two bad vertebrae that make it hard to genuflect at the altar. Standing for any period of time is agony. I grunt and huff-and-puff and I go on as best as I am able. When I stand before the congregation at Mass, coughing to catch my breath, leaning on the altar to ease the pain (or try to), I still offer my personal struggles with the passion and death of Christ. Nothing need be wasted, even that which is so dark and terrible. I cannot take away your pain. All I can say is that we can join our pain together with that of the Lord. The problems of the day are many but my faith assures me that everything is passing. One day every tear will be wiped away. But as for now, we can endure all things for the salvation of souls. Despair is no answer. We must maintain faith and hope.

  16. you responded to a question earlier….you said, FATHER JOE: As long as you were baptized (even as a Methodist), the marriage was a sacrament from the very beginning. If you were not baptized previously, the marriage automatically became a sacrament when you entered the Catholic Church.

    I was told that I need to have the marriage blesed (validated) in order to invoke the liturgy of marriage. i don’t mind doing that but is that the case and does that mean the last 27 tears of a 29 year marriage were invalid to some degree?

    FATHER JOE: What you write makes no sense. You were told wrong. If a baptized Methodist marries a baptized Catholic in a Catholic ceremony before a priest or deacon then the marriage is a sacrament. Marriages between baptized Christians are presumed as sacraments… period. It is great that you were received into the Catholic Church, but you already had the sacrament of matrimony. There is no need for a convalidation.

  17. I was married to a Catholic woman while I was Methodist in the Catholic Church. 2 years later I converted. Is my marriage a sacrament for me or do I need to have it blessed to receive the sacrament as she did?

    FATHER JOE: As long as you were baptized (even as a Methodist), the marriage was a sacrament from the very beginning. If you were not baptized previously, the marriage automatically became a sacrament when you entered the Catholic Church.

  18. Father, I am a truck driver. Work takes me away from home 4 days a week. My wife has had 2 bouts with cancer. 8 years ago scarring from radiation destroyed our sex life and last year she had her vagina completely removed. I pray daily for guidance. I am a 46 year old how do I deal with the sexual frustration? She has suggested I find a concubine, which I did but the woman eventually needed more than I could provide and the affair ended. I feel like masturbation is a greater sin than having a relationship. Without release I am unable to control rage toward other males. Can you offer advice?

    FATHER JOE: If this comment is as you purport, then you have issues that demand seriously counseling. While masturbation is a matter of mortal sin, I am aghast that you think that adultery might be a better solution. Your poor wife has undergone a terrible ordeal and all you can think about are your own sexual desires. Sorry, but I find your attitude highly offensive and selfish. You should be available and comforting to your wife during this time of struggle and sickness. She is still your wife and the woman to whom you pledged fidelity “for better or for worse.” Step up and be the man you are supposed to be. If you cannot control your lust and/or your rage, then you are not well and should seek psychological help. Any effort at faith or prayer will be empty if you opt to live in sin.

  19. Is it OK for me a practising Catholic to use Rekhi at my local holistic centre? I am a teacher suffering from stress and anxiety and distress and can’t sleep. Thought it might calm me down..the same place offers sound therapy for relaxation like tibetan drums and chimes etc. I was wondering if it’s OK to participate? I dont want to be committed a mortal sin or something and don’t really understand the long theological answers on Catholic Answers dot com. So I’m hoping you’ll be able to explain dead simply? Many thanks Father. God bless.

    FATHER JOE:

    I know nothing about it and defer to the American Bishops who view it as superstitious and incompatible with the Catholic faith. CLICK HERE FOR DOCUMENT.

  20. Are horror movies sinful? My 12 year old son loves to watch them an I wonder if I should continue to allow him to. I don’t allow him to see anything I deem inappropriate but is the whole premise of a movie made to shock and frighten evil? Thank you in advance, Father!

    FATHER JOE: It all depends upon the movie, more so than the genre. Next to Japanese giant rubber monsters, I am a fan of the classic old Dracula, Mummy, Frankenstein and Creature from the Black Lagoon films. Modern slasher films and the accompanying vulgarity are much more problematical and in my estimation quite sick.

  21. Father,
    I have a question about why Jesus gave the devil the time and power to destroy the Catholic church as was witnessed by Pope Leo XIII in 1884 after celebrating mass. Jesus told the devil to “do as you will with them,” meaning those who refuse to obey and submit to God.

    Did Jesus allow this to happen in order to fulfill prophesy?
    Please explain, Fr.

    Thank you for taking my question.

    In Jesus,
    A Clement

    FATHER JOE: Even though this is in reference to the pope, it is still the stuff of private revelation. It is not an element from the immutable deposit of faith. Such a time of testing is reminiscent of the testing and suffering endured by God’s servant Job. The promise of Christ is that he will sustain his Church until the consummation of all things. The devil has not afflicted us for a mere century, but from Genesis to the present. It may be that many consciences have been numbed to the truth by demonic influence. But witnesses to the truth and heroic saints still emerge. We may face trials, but Christ defeated Satan on Calvary.

  22. I’m doing a lot of soul searching and just perused the list of mortal sins. It looks like I may be going straight to hell. What makes it worse is I incur another mortal sin if I decide to leave the Catholic church. I feel like I am being cornered with no way out. I stopped receiving Communion, I can’t get my sins absolved and I am very angry. (another mortal sin!)

    Where is God in all this?

    FATHER JOE: The real question is, “Where are YOU in all this?” Are we to feel sorry for the devil? We get what we most want. It is not God that damns anyone. Some poor souls may damn themselves. The power of grace makes repentance, faith and obedience possible for all. But some reject God and his gifts. It is part of the mystery of evil.

  23. If I lie, but then right away, say. “That wasn’t true…”, have I lied? Do I need to go to confession?

    I hope this doesn’t seem a trivial question. I am asking in all sincerity. Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: I don’t think all lies are necessarily mortal sins. Make a quick act of contrition.

  24. I was not granted absolution in confession apparently for a defect in regards to an amendment of life. I confessed to some sexual immorality- I am single, live alone, but occasionally have had some sexual encounters. So I would say I am not involved in adultery but would be guilty of fornication. In my confession I stated that I wasn’t certain it wouldn’t happen again but obviously I am seeking the grace through the Sacraments to amend my ways. I attend Mass daily, say the Rosary and I do receive Communion. I do believe I was contrite in my confession.

    This action by the priest has actually had the reverse effect on me. I have stopped attending Mass and I am not quite so judicious in my prayer life,

    If I cannot receive Communion I might as well become a Baptist.

    I find it interesting that the literature suggests most people come to Confession stating the same laundry list of items over and over and continue to receive Absolution, but if it is a sexual sin, the standard is higher and the expectation is that such a sin never occur again once it is confessed one time.


    FATHER JOE:
    Sexual sins are serious because we are our bodies. But sin is sin. We need to resolve to avoid sin but if we should fall again we can return to the sacrament. This seemed to be satisfied when you wrote, “I am seeking the grace through the Sacraments to amend my ways.” Was there some confusion about this? Maybe you should talk to another priest?

  25. Father, the godliness of Jesus Christ is being questioned by non-believers. They say that, if he be the Son of God, then how is it that the Son and the Father can be the same? Why does Jesus call himself the Father? What should I do when my faith is being questioned?

    FATHER JOE: It may be that your faith needs further catechesis as the mystery of the Trinity is the principal mystery of the Christian faith and is the demarcation of our religion as a “supernatural” faith. Judaism, and to a lesser extent, Islam would be regarded as natural religions because of their appreciation that there is one God. Christianity also believes that God is one, a truth which is also within the grasp of human reason through philosophy. However, in Jesus Christ, God has also revealed himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is defined as three divine Persons in one divine Nature. Nature asks the question, what is God? Person asks the question, who is God? The Father knows himself from all eternity in a perfect and infinite manner. That which is infinite and perfect is by definition God. Thus the Father generates the Son from all eternity. Continuing the analogy, the Father and the Son love each other from all eternity in a perfect and infinite manner. Thus the Father and the Son generates the Holy Spirit from all eternity. Note the Scriptures refer to Christ as the eternal Word. Similarly, we often associate the Holy Spirit with personified Love. Jesus shows himself as God by his power to forgive sin and to raise the dead. He is viewed as the Master of the Sabbath. He is also called Savior and only God can save us. Men cannot save themselves apart from Christ. Note that we also baptize in the name of the Trinity. This demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is also God. Again, a creature has no power to save us. The Persons of the Trinity are distinguished by their relationship or generation. The Father sent his Son into the world to redeem us. The Son sends the Holy Spirit upon the Church so that his saving presence and ministry might continue within the instrumentality of the Church. Jesus calls upon God the Father. Jesus is the revelation of the Father. He shows us the face of God. Jesus is the Divine Justice and the Divine Mercy. What should you do when your faith is questioned? The answer should be self-evident. Study and pray over the faith so that you might better know your holy religion.

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