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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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3,530 Responses

  1. Hi Fr.,

    Is Salvation for everyone? if it is, then why is it important to be a Roman Catholic?

    FATHER JOE: There is a universal call to salvation but this does not mean that everyone is necessarily saved. When Jesus instituted his community of faith, the Catholic Church was the only “Church” that existed. Peter is established as the “rock” of Christ’s Church (note that Jesus did not say churches). The Catholic Church is regarded as the great mystery of encounter with Christ. The Church is the sacrament of salvation. There is no salvation apart from Christ. Christ is the head and the Church is his mystical body. That is why both Jesus and the Church is regarded as THE WAY. There is a profound and intimate union between Christ and his Church. One cannot be legitimately severed from the other.

  2. Good afternoon father Joe. I’m still struggling with this current pope. I admit I’m afraid of offending you or anyone else reading this. I fear this pope is not from God. I don’t know if I’m misunderstanding him or what , but I feel like he is more of a global political figure than a religious leader. Very now and then I agree with him but overall his views and priorities terrify me. Thanks and may the Lord bless you and your congregation.

    FATHER JOE: The parameters of papal infallibility are not absolute and popes can make prudential mistakes and even have fawlty personal opinions about unsettled doctrine or about the dynamics of ecclesial discipline. I am told that under the Holy Father the Church’s doctrines are not in question and have not been changed, just the discipline or pastoral accommodations. However, along with Cardinal Burke and others, I view the discipline as protecting and illuminating the doctrines, not side-stepping them. Pope Francis is the Pope and while he may unsettle many of us, we must offer respect and religious assent. I trust that the Holy Spirit still abides with the Church and the teaching authority established by Christ.

  3. a married woman having problems with her husband is living at home; our mom is a sector leader and she has allowed this lady to live at home for a while because her husband had chased her away …. the lady and her husband have some marital problems; my sister tells my mom to not interfere with the marriage; and allow husband and wife to work through it together; butttt its always mom’s way or the highway … so now the lady lives at home … I told my sister; we just show Christ to the lady; maybe she needs a little space and then she’ll return home … now i’m not so sure … I know it is wrong for us to allow her to continue staying at home and not making her patch things with her husband; …. but then if we do tell her to leave from home and she goes back to her hubby; i’m worried that he might her … any suggestion please….

    FATHER JOE: Sorry, but I do not understand what you are trying to say. Maybe there is an issue of culture and language? What is a “sector leader”? I would usually urge staying out of other people’s marriage troubles. However, I am unclear about the woman’s relationship to your mother and what led to the separation. If the husband is dangerous then I would urge notifying the authorities.

  4. Doctor told me to stay home for at least two weeks because I have Sinuitis maxillaris acuta. And home means that I shouldn’t even go to store nor outdoors at all. I’ve been home for a week already. I know that illness is considered serious reason for not attending mass. What is the proper way to handle the situation? Is liturgy of the word enough? What should I do instead of attending mass?

    FATHER JOE: Reflecting on the Liturgy of the Word (readings) is good, as is watching a Mass on television or the computer. An hour of prayer would be an option as well. Hope you feel better!

  5. Excuse me father I have rather important inquiry. Things between my loving wife and I have gotten stale in the bedroom. And she suggested to me something troubling yet intriguing. She suggested bringing in another man to our lovemaking. So I must ask father is it gay if it happens in a three way?

    FATHER JOE: Unless someone has just crawled from under a rock, most people have a basic appreciation of what Christianity regards as right and wrong. Our culture has become increasingly promiscuous and many resent such teachings and routinely attack or mock the Church and her ministers. The sacrament of matrimony is often the main casualty of such assaults. The spouse is objectified as a thing instead of as a person with unique qualities and a precious “incommensurate” value. The marital act is reduced to entertainment and not as a holy commingling that fosters true unity, fidelity and openness to human life. Many are seeking a redefinition of marriage into something foreign to faith and contradictory to natural law. The exclusive and intimate love of a man and woman makes possible the family as “the little church” and the most basic building block to a moral and civilized society. In answer to your question, albeit asked with dubious sincerity, both adultery and homosexuality in such scenarios are condemned as grievously wrong and as constituting mortal sin. If you fail to appreciate this, then I pity the both of you. Marriage is so much more than you know. This I can testify, not simply from the books, but from the witness of thousands of Christian couples to whom it has been my privilege to minister as a pastor of souls. I will pray that you and your spouse will discover this truth.

  6. Hello Father Jenkins,

    I will be joining college soon as a nurse but now I am unsure about pursuing mental health nursing even though it’s an area I love. The reason is, in what I have observed, most mental illnesses are stirred by an imbalance of the emotional make up and the spiritual. What breaks me Father is seeing the medical world address this with just drugs. I understand drugs are important but I think they only address the symptoms and do not treat the root causes of these illnesses. What do you think Father? am I mistaken in viewing the human person as WHOLE who should be treated in all aspects,i.e the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. Is this possible or this only possible in an ideal world. I feel heartbroken. What do you think?

    Anne

    FATHER JOE: When it comes to ailments of the mind, the medical world resorts both to pharmaceutical and to counseling solutions. Often they are used in tandem. If you feel called to be a nurse then be a nurse.

  7. Hi, is it sinful to contact a psychic if it’s for fun and the answer is not to be taken seriously? How about reading horoscopes in the daily paper? And what about the use of fortunes in fortune cookies?

    FATHER JOE: Fortune cookies are so wrong that no one takes them seriously. It has become a quaint custom about which people laugh. Horoscopes can be more problematical. They are often so very general that they really say little or nothing. One might look at them as curious fun, but to place any credence in them would be a sin. If one is a Christian then one turns to the Bible or a minister… NOT to a psychic. It is false religion. The whole psychic industry is a fraud. They now advertise their services as “only a dollar a minute” over the phone. That means they start at $60 an hour! Those who make recourse to them are not only sinning, but they are “stupid” sinners. They are throwing their money away.

  8. I am Catholic I have two questions one my mom has passed away and I would like to know when my father dies will he be with my mom and also when I do pass away myself well I get to see my father and mother again in heaven

    FATHER JOE: The Church speaks of the next life as a share in Christ’s resurrection and as reunion (within the communion of the saints). Thus, those who die believing in Christ will see each other again.

  9. How does the catholic church feel about deliverance?

    FATHER JOE: Short of exorcisms, there are many deliverance prayers. It is a part of ministry. Indeed, the sacrament of confession is essential to it for Catholics.

  10. Dear Fr. Joe, I have some questions about marriage. Is marriage between two Catholics considered a right in the Church or is it a privilege?

    What are the canonical impediments to marriage? I remember years ago that a priest was on TV defending his decision not to allow a couple to marry because either the man or woman was infertile (I forget which one it was). I’m not sure how that turned out. Is infertility of one partner an official impediment?

    Were there a months-long waiting period and the so-called Pre-Cana preparation prior to Vatican II?

    In the case where a couple wishes to be married without waiting the minimum six months, is there a possibility for dispensation? If so, how would one go about this?

    Just my personal opinion: if marriage was easier in the days prior to Vatican II, or perhaps a bit further back, such as during the 19th century or earlier, then I think that was a better way of going about it. I understand the desire to avoid divorce and other problems, but did not couples manage quite well over many centuries without going through a formal preparation? In fact it seems to me that divorce in the USA was more a result of no-fault divorce laws beginning in California.

    Also, I want to add that I am a faithful Catholic and I submit to the laws of the Church. I am just hoping there is some flexibility in marriage waiting time. For example, a couple of childhood sweethearts who grew up together in a small town is a different situation from a couple that met recently at a rock concert and want to elope!

    Thank you.

    FATHER JOE:

    Marriage is regarded as a natural right. The Church is obligated to assist her children who want to exercise that right.

    The preparation programs are needed because many couples do not understand the Catholic sacrament of marriage. A few couples discover in the preparation process that they should not get married and thus they avoid a terrible mistake. Marriages in the past were not always happy but people tended to live shorter lives and many did not regard divorce as an option. Today, the culture has drastically changed. There is not only no-fault divorce, but widespread fornication, intimate cohabitation, tolerated adultery and successive civil unions, sexual disorientation, a contraceptive mentality and promotion of abortion, and the mainstreaming of pornography. Everyone is affected. Modern dating for fun has replaced traditional courtship to find a mate. A romanticized notion of love and marriage has replaced a more sensible determination of a partner who might share and facilitate a stable family and home. Love sick couples often insist that they should get immediately. Sometimes they should not get married at all. Does the love interest share your Catholic faith? Is he or she willing to convert? Many problems are caused by mixed-faith marriages and they require a dispensation from the bishop. Often there is chemistry between people and maybe real love, but love is not enough of a reason to get married. Some people who love each other find that they cannot live in peace with one another. Also the love-blindness that overlooks clashes in personality and selfishness often dissipates. Then years later you hear spouses say things like, “Why did I ever marry you?” or “What could I have possibly seen in you?”

    Catholic marriage preparation could be improved but I believe it is a step in the right direction. There was always some preparation, even in the old days. It may not have been as detailed— but this was because culture or society reaffirmed our general values and expectations. This is no longer the case. Six months of waiting and preparation is not much to ask when we are talking about relationships that are expected to be maintained “until death do you part.”

    As for infertility, no it would not prevent a marriage. However, an impediment would be created if a person deliberately had himself (or herself) sterilized for contraceptive purposes. Older couples are beyond child-bearing years, but they can get married in the Church. What you read was probably about impotence. A man must be able to engage in the marital act (consensual vaginal intercourse).

    What are the impediments? Some can be dispensed by the Church; some are a matter of divine law and cannot be dispensed. Catholics who want to get married must intend a union for life, must exhibit openness to the generation of new human life, and intend to be faithful to the spouse. Consent (the vows) must be freely given without coercion or intimidation of any kind.

    Impediments or rules would include the following:

    • Legal age of consent
    • Impotence (cannot be dispensed)
    • Prior bond (annulment required unless spouse dies)
    • Holy Orders or Religious Life (must be laicized and released)
    • Abduction (coercion destroys freedom)
    • Crime (prior spouse murdered so as to marry again)
    • Consanguinity/Affinity (you cannot marry certain family members)
    • Disparity of Cult and Mixed Religion (you should marry a Catholic)

    Peace!

  11. My question – I know we cannot eat meat on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday or any Fridays during Lent but can fish be eaten on those days? A fairly new Catholic told me no fish either on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I believe she is incorrect. Can you help me with this?

    FATHER JOE: It is customary to eat fish on those days.

  12. Hello,
    I do believe in God but I struggle with discerning what is man’s doctrine verse what is truly what we should be following. Being frank, over the past 2,000 years, there have been less than scrupulous priests, bishops, popes, etc. who have issued edicts/laws/etc and done things in the name of God which clearly weren’t. My question is, God warned us about false prophets, if we are/were led by one (and I am not saying we are) but let’s just say there may be things that God wouldn’t want us to do but those in charge said do it, would he punish us or the next generation who were brought up to believe these incorrect things? Or for those non-religious, would he punish people who were taught wrong by their parents/environment and never knew his love?

    FATHER JOE: The true history of the Church is found in the lives of the saints. The faithful transmission of the faith and the survival of the Church, despite sinners among the laity and clergy, is a proof of our perpetual protection by the Holy Spirit. Jesus made Peter the rock of his Church. He promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Peter is still with us in his successors. That is a fundamental tenet of Catholic belief. Even bad popes seemed mysteriously restrained and taught the truth. Most popes were good ones and are counted among the saints and martyrs. Those who would separate God’s people from the Catholic faith are the false prophets. We trust the Lord and his promises. We are not led by a false prophet. However, popes are men, not God. The protection that comes with infallibility is narrowly defined. Revelation is passed down to us. Doctrine can grow but it cannot be reversed. The popes can interpret and give discipline, but they cannot make up new doctrines. Everything must be understood within the context of a living tradition. God’s Word does not forfeit its binding force. God judges us according to the banner of truth, but also in light of the judgment that we must make in conscience. Sin is an outright refusal to believe and to live by what has been revealed. One may lack understanding due to upbringing and even because of poor preaching and catechesis. However, sin is not in reference to ignorance (that is not our fault) but rather to obstinately reject what we know to be true. The sinner states by his actions that God cannot tell him what to do. Sometimes the ministers of the Church, as heralds of the truth and the kingdom, are targeted by such people. They would silence or mock the Church. They would strip away the authority of bishops and priests. They are quick to point to scandal but slow to acknowledge holiness and fidelity.

  13. Thank you for such a thorough explanation! this helps me with discussing this with younger adults.

  14. Good morning Father. I have a question. I hope you can help lead me in the right direction. In the Bible God says that witchcraft, fortune telling and things of that nature are forbidden. This I know, however what I don’t understand are Psychic abilities. So if someone may have psychic abilities what does that mean? We were all made by God in his image. So if someone has those abilities. What do they do? I don’t get it. I hope you can shed some light on this. Thanks so much. God Bless you.

    FATHER JOE:

    First, never underestimate the human ability for self-deception and manipulation. Ghost hunting and the paranormal is fashionable today and many imagine that they have special psychic gifts or abilities when in truth they do not.

    Second, there are professional mentalists (tricksters) who as part of their acts can perfectly mimic the activities of many so-called clairvoyants. Like the mediums of old, there are some who purposely take advantage of the gullible and hurting.

    Third, when there is evidence of supernatural abilities, the source is very likely demonic. The Catechism of the Catholic Church rejects all forms of divination. Indeed, it associates such activities with superstition and/or the occult. “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” [CCC #2116].

    Fourth, while there are cases where Catholic exorcists have brought in apparent psychics, they are individuals known for holiness of life and obedience to the Church. It seems that some souls under the grace of the Holy Spirit are more sensitive or attuned to the supernatural. While it may be a gift, it is a very dangerous one. A true discernment of spirits is necessary to insure that the devil is not working behind the scenes, as is the situation in most cases. Exorcists use people with a spiritual sensitivity, but only in specific situations and times so as to root out the presence of evil. They can see what others cannot. However, again such a person must be a practicing believer, in a state of grace, frequenting the sacraments, and invoking only the power of the Holy Spirit. If it does not come from God then it is wrong and a violation of true religion. They only offer their services within the context of prayer and in association with the work of the priest. It is not a gift they actively pursue and they are not obsessed with it. Indeed, many view it as a burden.

    Priests who serve as exorcists have a similar mentality. No priest should want to be an exorcist. There is no enjoyment in the ministry. Priests would rather be preaching, saying Mass or offering the other sacraments. But the ministry is forced upon some because of our vocation to forgive sins and to liberate souls from bondage. Exorcists and those who work with them tend to be haunted people. Like the soldier who has seen combat close up, the work changes them.

  15. Hi Fr. Joe, is it wrong to call a priest by just their name and not begin with Fr. ? A friend of mine was ordained a priest and sometimes I forget to call him Fr. Here in my country; when you become a priest … you are like a king; so me calling my friend by his name only, now that he is a priest, can get a few bad looks from the older people. so I was wondering … is it really wrong to call a priest by his name alone… I guess it would be disrespectful but it wouldn’t be intentional on my part but .. I’ve just been wondering is it really wrong like a sin?

    FATHER JOE: Definitely the title should be used in professional settings and in public. Priests have family and close friends who call them by their first name in private. My secretary was amused years ago when my mother called and asked for Father Jenkins. I guess she was proud to have a son who was a priest.

  16. Father, I feel confused and shameful in confessing to masturbation; but, when I feel the urges, I really cannot help it. Even while sleeping and dreaming, I sometimes think I “did” it. I have a son born out of wedlock. I know I did wrong.

    I confessed this already. While I do not have a husband I try to do right in raising my son. Please give me some advice.

    FATHER JOE: Do not despair. While chastity may be difficult, do not give up trying to be good. Many factors may be working against you: memory of sexual union, loneliness, anger and frustration, etc. Just do the best you can and trust the graces of Christ that come with sacramental absolution. Know that God loves you and will always forgive you if you come to him with a sincere and contrite heart. You made a mistake but you did not compound it with another one. You made the right choice in giving your child LIFE. Be a good mother. Raise your child in the faith. Trust that God understands your plight and is always ready to forgive you. Peace!

  17. Hello Father

    I am unemployed and was recently approached to work for a company that offers non Christian Funeral services.

    Will it be against our catholic teachings to do so?

    FATHER JOE: As long as they are respectful to people of faith there should be no issue.

  18. Can you advise how to discern if what one perceives as a calling is a real calling? In particular, a call to non-violent civil resistance which could have ramifications for family, friends, and employment?
    Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: I am not sure I would regard political activity a calling in the traditional sense. It is hard to answer your question because left unsaid are the issues and what exactly you would intend to do. Remember, you would still be required to obey all just laws. Nor every means can be justified by the ends. Further, you may have a moral duty to others that would preclude anything that might get you arrested. For instance, priests might be arrested outside an abortion clinic, but they would still have a duty to offer Sunday Mass in their parishes. A father or mother has an obligation (calling) to the spouse and family. Neglecting a job to care for them or getting arrested would hurt them.

  19. A friend of mine found that her husband has stage 4 cancer. She wants to care for her husband. She is finding it difficult to care for her husband and tend to her personal needs. She is tired and is finding it difficult to attend mass. Is there an obligation on her part to attend Sunday mass if she is caring for a terminally ill person?

    FATHER JOE: God understands and the obligation would be abrogated. Of course, friends, family and fellow church goers should help her so that she can go to Mass and have a break once-in-a-while.

  20. Praise Be Jesus, Father Joseph! I want to beg you, if it’s possible to let me to go to the Confession through skype! I’m in Poland. They don’t speak English. I’m dying. [Rest of posting deleted to preserve privacy.]

    FATHER JOE: The sacrament of penance requires that you be in the immediate presence of a priest. You cannot receive absolution and the sacramental graces through electronic media. Sorry. Even though it may be inconvenient, speak to a local priest. Many Poles know English these days. God bless you!

  21. Hello Father; thank you for your response. Remember us in your prayers as we remember you as well. Blessed Lenten Season ahead.

  22. If you are unable to fast because of illness, is there a prayer to say to compensate? I am recovering from shingles and have pneumonia. I have been bed bound for a month, with help to feed me and my little boy, leaving me no control over most meals. Please advise.

    FATHER JOE: There is no obligation in such situations. Just offer your regular prayers.

  23. Hello Father, I know it’s not permitted for a Catholic to attend a gay marriage.(Please correct me if i’m wrong) However would it be wrong for a catholic to attend a gay marriage where the two grooms in question were bent on maintaining a Josephite Marriage? Thank you in advance!

    FATHER JOE: We are called to be witnesses of the truth and the truth is that such friendships between same-sex couples do not constitute any sort of marriage as understood by the Church.

  24. Good evening Father Joe,
    I am very concerned for my friend. She is a baptized Catholic but has been participating in an adulterous relationship with a Catholic man for over 5 years. She says she cannot marry him because she will lose her substantial alimony from her ex husband. She feels that because she is in this position And feels married enough in her heart that God will forgive her. I feel she is very wrong in this thinking. She also told her ex husband with whom she had 5 children, that she would be willing to settle with him for 200,000.00 per child. To me this is so wrong. What are your thoughts in this matter?

    FATHER JOE: You are quite right. What she argues is grievously wrong and immoral. She is willing to take material support from her ex-husband, and yet gives her affections to another man. Some states rightly allow legal intervention and the revocation of alimony when sexual cohabitation can be proven. As for settling with her ex for $200,000 per child… this reduces her children to commodities. Given the lack of contrition or sorrow for sin, she does not seem to be properly disposed for absolution or divine mercy. Keep your friend in prayer. She desperately needs to wake up both spiritually and morally.

  25. Hi,

    he is an assemblies of God; but we are Catholics… I made sure that our little one was baptised Catholic but even before he was born and before we married; he gave his approval for us to married in the Catholic faith and that all our children would be baptised Catholics…. now he talks like he wants to take our son to his faith… what can i do? … does he have the right to do that?

    FATHER JOE: He is bound by the promise he made to allow you to practice your faith and to allow the children to be raised in the Catholic faith.

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