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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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3,625 Responses

  1. xDear Father,
    I would just like to ask if it is a sin to use a cracked computer app/program? I bought a cheaper offer of a known computer program but later on, I realized that it may be a cracked one. Thank you. 🙂

    FATHER JOE: It depends if you knew for sure it was stolen. The deliberate reception of stolen property is a sin.

  2. xHi Father Joe,

    We recently found a relative through a heritage database. Her mother had an affair with my then-married grandfather. He legally divorced my grandmother, and left his 8 children to be with this woman. Ultimately, the woman left him, he returned to his wife but did not remarry her.

    As a family we are divided in whether we should embrace his illegitimate daughter or not.

    Other than treating her with kindness like we would any stranger, is there any “by the book” protocol for situations like this?

    FATHER JOE: Look to John 13:34-35. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

  3. xHi Father,
    I have a question about keeping Holy the Lord’s Day. I live at home and I was upset when I found that my mom went shopping on Sunday night at about 7:30PM to buy groceries. I was upset because she may have required others to work. Then, she came home and a couple hours later, she cooked with that food, another thing I was upset about because I didn’t want her to be cooking (working) on Sunday. Now I don’t want to eat her food, but if I don’t eat it, it will surely go to waste. Would it be a sin to eat the food she bought and prepared for me on a Sunday? Would that be encouraging sin or reaping the benefits of sin or participating in sin? If you could email me a response, that would be great!
    Thank you and God bless

    FATHER JOE: The rule about working was never absolute. At no time did it prevent mothers from preparing the Sunday family meal. You are being stricter than the Church and possibly disrespectful to your mother. Be grateful for her sacrifices and apologize to her for your rudeness.

  4. xHi Father Joe,
    I am only 19 years old and I saw something a bit disturbing a few nights ago when I was driving home from work at around midnight. I was around 5 minutes away from the nearest town, and I was in an area that had lots of trees on either side of the road (this area is about 10 miles long, and the speed limit was 60 mph). There were hardly any other cars around at this time.

    When I was driving in this area, I saw something lying in the middle of the other side of the road that, from a distance, looked like roadkill until I got a little closer. Then it looked more like a large bag, or something like that.

    But when I drove closer to it, I saw shoes at the end of it and the part that looked like a bag seemed to be a shirt instead. I immediately recognized it as a person’s body laying on its side, with its back facing me. But this is only judging by what looked like shoes at the end of it.

    I kept driving, but as soon as I saw it, I started praying Hail Mary’s. During the next few minutes, I passed a few other cars and I hoped they would see it and maybe call the police after driving near (or over) it. I was really stressed out, wondering if I saw what I thought I saw.

    I have wanted to keep checking online to see if it was reported on the news that there was a “dead body found on the road near so-and-so.” I didn’t want to be right about what I thought I saw, but I wanted to be sure. I almost wanted to drive back just to make sure. It disturbed me so much that I had trouble sleeping. I don’t want to be haunted or scarred by it.

    Maybe I’m making too big of a deal out of it. But my question is, what should I have done and how should I have reacted in such a situation? And are there any good ways to help myself get over this (and quickly)?

    Thank you so much, Father, and I hope this didn’t disturb anyone else reading this.

    FATHER JOE: Generally speaking, as a “good” Samaritan, one would stop to investigate and, if need be, lend assistance. At the least, it should have been immediately reported. The legal situation is a bit dubious as you did not hit the person (if it was such). Was the object on the road or near the edge? I ask because there is a ploy where a person or a dummy is placed near the road so that motorists will stop and get mugged and robbed. Several years ago, I knew a man who stopped to help a woman whose car had broken down on the roadway. The police found his body. It turned out that the woman had a male accomplice who came out of the bushes and killed him for his wallet. There is an inherent danger in stopping on deserted roads.

    RULE OF THUMB – Hit-and-runs seem to happen every day and everywhere. Those involved should stop. Those who observe should immediately report (and if possible lend aid).

  5. xSorry, Father Joe!
    I have a lot of questions that keep popping up! Thank you, as always, for the time you generously give to answer them.
    Between Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday, there has been a lot of attention given to the Holy Spirit. It made me realize how little attention I typically give the Holy Spirit. Mostly my prayers are offered to God, Jesus, Mary our Blessed mother, or to a Saint. But, very seldomly do I pray to the Holy Spirit. Other than praying to the Holy Spirit to come and surround/fill you, are there other benefits to praying to the Holy Spirit? Are you usually aware of the Presence of the Holy Spirit? Is it around all the time or only when you call upon it?
    Also, is being ‘Baptized in the Holy Spirit’ an experience that we as Catholics recognize? I know it’s not considered a sacrament, but more of an awakening? As Catholics we are more reserved generally speaking, especially in the Northeast where I live. This seems a little suspect to me. How does one go about being Baptized in the Spirit? Aren’t we Baptized in the Holy Spirit in our Baptism and Confirmation?
    Thanks,
    Lauren

    FATHER JOE:

    The Holy Spirit is intimately connected to the life of a Christian. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Mary conceived our Lord. Jesus worked his miracles and signs by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus raised himself from the dead by his own power, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God lives in the Church as the soul abides in our bodies. Faith and baptism makes us temples of the Holy Spirit. Confirmation gives us a fuller share of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives efficacy to all the sacraments; note the epiclesis at Mass where the Holy Spirit is invoked over the gifts. The Word of God is inspired by the Holy Spirit. As such it is truly divine revelation and we encounter Christ in his Word. The Holy Spirit safeguards the Magisterium, insuring that the faith of the apostles is still preached and taught by the bishops and the Church. If it were not for the movement of the Holy Spirit, one could not have faith or believe that “Jesus is Lord!” Indeed, every Catholic is charismatic in that the Spirit of God prays in us every time we pray. When we say that God is LOVE, we are really directing our attention to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often compared to the wind, invisible but with effects. A better analogy is the Spirit of God is the divine breath. He breathes in us and grants us a participation in the divine life. Explicitly mentioned or not, such is the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

    Baptism in the Spirit does not replace the sacrament of baptism with water. The latter is from a direct command of Christ. This is where we part ways with certain Pentecostals. Catholicism would understand the expression as activating or acknowledging the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that we have already been given. Many Christians never wake up to the many gifts that our Lord has bestowed upon us.

  6. xHello Father,
    Recently I have I had many questions about my faith, and so far through research I have found that I still believe there is indeed a God. However, there is one thing holding me back and that is peoples experience of dying, coming back to life after and experiencing nothing, no heaven or hell. Is there any reason why you think this might be? Thank you very much for your help.

    FATHER JOE: There are a number of people who place great stock in so-called “after death” experiences: a tunnel, a guiding light, encountering Jesus and others, etc.” There have even been a few who wrote about finding themselves in hell. You note that others have experienced nothing. Speaking for myself, I find any and all of these stories as inconsequential because the purported people coming back from the dead were not truly dead. Temporary cessation of certain cerebral activities or the stopping of the heart might legally qualify as death; but true death is more intense. Lazarus was dead in the tomb for four days when Jesus raised him from the dead. That miracle is a great deal more impressive than electrifying someone with paddles or given them a shot of adrenaline. The fact is, except for our Lord’s intervention, most dead people stay dead. By this I mean they do not immediately return in the flesh to the mortal world. Our faith says that Jesus prepares a place for us, but that place is not in this vale of tears. I would regard true death as closer to putrefaction. Find someone who has come back from that and I would be interested in hearing his or her story. The rest are just living people, close to death and probably with a number of misfiring neurons, who chance to survive. God might communicate to us during such experiences; however, it could be hallucinatory as well… just a brain struggling to bring down the vital signs to a safer level for a chance of survival.

  7. Dear Father Joe
    Actually I have neither one of the books but I am interested in learning about them. Thank you very much for the information.
    Jeremy

  8. Dear Father Joe,

    May I ask where could I purchased a Greek Catholic Bible with English translation though in multivolume. I am still interested since many of the words are sometimes mistranslated in English. Henceforth, I do not mind buying one.
    Thank you. Jeremy

    FATHER JOE: I am not sure how professional it is, but there are books offered on Amazon. If you know Latin, it would be cheaper and more convenient to buy Greek-Latin texts. It is my presumption that you already know some Greek… am I right? Do you already have the Greek OT Septuagint and the Latin NT Vulgate? If you really need a contemporary language translation, you would probably fare better with French than English.

  9. I’ve been digesting your response piece by piece for most of the day, Fr Joe. The balance between Divine Mercy and Divine Justice is hard for me. But from what you wrote, I realize that I have been thinking of them as separate….as though they are on opposite ends of a spectrum. Instead, God who is Divine Mercy and Divine Justice Is both, together? When we one day look into the face of God who will judge us, we will also see the face of the one who is out savior?
    When it comes down to it, I desire with all my heart to be in Heaven someday. I try, I struggle, I feel loved, succeed, and then sometimes feel ashamed because of falling short. Life can be hard. I can be heavy on the side of feeling God’s judgement, disappointment, and separation. This is a place of discouragement, as though it will be too hard to ever become who God calls me to be. But then, I can also be in a place surrounded by His mercy, love, and tenderness….feeling such joy, peace, union with Him that all of the ‘judgement thoughts melt away.
    So, you are saying God cannot be one without the other? I think I still have some work to do on this, to see mercy and justice together. Thank you for your help. Is it really ourselves who choose salvation more than God’s judgement that determines?
    God Bless.
    Lauren

    FATHER JOE: Your question is hard to answer as it touches the mystery of divine providence. There is a universal call to salvation but this does not mean that everyone is saved. Imagine you are thirsty. God has provided you both with the cup and with the water. However, it is still left to us as to whether we drink or not.

  10. Hi Father,
    Today’s Gospel reading from Mark has Jesus saying if your hand causes you to sin, cut if off….and if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. While I know this isn’t literal, it’s still very harsh. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the places in The Bible where God is loving, forgiving, patient, and is our father/Abba/Dad. Where there is talk of forgiveness of sins, mercy, love. And then there are places such as this reading in Mark that makes it sound as though we will be condemned for our sin. That our sin will land us in Hell, forgiveness or not. Where God will be our judge and could banish us to the fires of Gehenna.

    I have trouble seeing how God can be all loving, forgiving, and merciful…..AND also be the one who will judge us and determine if we will suffer the pains of Hell. I love God who is forgiving and slow to anger, rich in kindness. But, I’m afraid of the God who judges and punishes, and who could condemn us. Could you help me figure out how to reconcile our view God?
    Thank you,
    Lauren

    FATHER JOE:

    The mercy of God requires of us the proper disposition. The harsh language is to wake us up to the severity of sin and the need for repentance and a genuine faith lived out in charity. A parent might spank a child, not because he takes any delight in the action, but because he desperately wants his child to grow up right and to behave. We are not always moved to reform by rational argument or even by compassion. Hell is real and terrible. God wants us with him.

    The parameters of good and evil are set by God. Any failure to judge us would be a denial of his very self or identity. We are called by God and empowered by grace to put on the likeness of Christ. We are given what is necessary to be saved, not as an entitlement but as a free gift. Sometimes selfishness refuses to be satisfied. God gives us himself but many want other things instead, lesser gifts or even that which is deemed evil. Remember that our Lord is both the Divine Mercy and the Divine Justice. All will be revealed when we stand in his light. The truth will not be denied.

    The fire of God’s love is endless joy for all those who arrive at the promised shore and bask in the light of salvation. The fire of God’s love is healing surgery for those who must be purified and perfected in the light of mercy. The fire of God’s love is agonizing pain for those who cannot bear to see themselves as they really are and so flee from the light of truth.

    Experienced as a terrible conflagration by the lost, the divine fire in hell is reduced to the smallest spark. That is God’s last gift to the damned. The fire that is a delightful furnace in heaven is only a tiny but painful flicker in hell… a final distraction for those who alienated themselves from the one for whom they were created. That miniscule hint of light keeps the damned in existence and yet the devils even hate that small reminder of their rebellion and self-corruption. If love is our pass into heaven, hate is our ticket to hell.

    God could no more totally extinguish his fire or light than he could stop loving you and me. Do you understand?

  11. It is very important to my mother that my infant son be baptized in the Catholic church. Neither my husband nor I object to this at all, but we are not ourselves practicing Catholics and were not married in the church (I was married once before in the church and though we are legally divorced, we have not had it annulled). May my mother present our son to be baptized herself, with our blessing and support? Thank you for your thoughts.

    FATHER JOE: Talk with a local priest. You may have to take instruction, but if you will support the effort of raising the child in the faith, baptism is indeed possible for the child. Indeed, it may be an occasion to work on your own relationship with the Lord and his Church, too. God bless!

  12. Thank you Father Joe for your reply regarding marriange witg muslim.
    That time I though it was real marrage but after all his lies and manipulation I started to think that he tricked me just to stay. For instance, we event went to completely different mosque so he would not meet anyone he knows…So now i don’t even know where to start and look for the record. I don’t know which mosque it was. Also where I could look for civil record?
    My current boyfriend knows the story, he saved me from all this madness and if not him I would be lost.
    Please help me.
    Also as I was not sure about this I told my priet that I did not have any marriange and I am afraid to go back now and say that i may have one

    FATHER JOE: Contact the regional courthouse and ask if there is a marriage record. The mosque will also have the list of recorded marriages (signed by the brides). Give them the year and they can look it up. You must be honest to the priest about your confusion. If neither the courthouse (civil authorities) nor the mosque (religious authorities) have a record then you are probably not married (in any sense). A dubious marriage is no marriage.

  13. At what point is anger considered a mortal sin instead of venial? For instance if someone made you angry to the point you wanted to hit them even if you didn’t and you thought later about wanting to beat them is that mortal?

    FATHER JOE: Anger that wants to harm others is sinful.

  14. thank you Fr. Joe.

  15. My current partner and I are getting married in the Church; however, I “think” I had a religious marriage with Muslim seven years ago. I left him for several reasons. He did not want me to speak with my family and he was an aggressive person. Additionally, although he wanted us to get married so as to live together; I am not actually sure we had a proper religious marriage. We went to mosque and I was alone. I did not have any witnesses from my side that signed anything. There was only a paper I signed at home. My main concern is if now I want to get married in the Church, I need to confirm that there was no marriage. I said “no” although it may not be true. However I cannot reach out to my Muslim-ex friend and ask because he did so many horrible things when I left him. What should I do?

    FATHER JOE: You signed the contract (which the brides do in Islamic unions as an expression of consent) and then went with your betrothed to the mosque. I find it difficult to believe you were as clueless as you make out. If you think you were married, it is likely you were married (at least as far as Islamic law is concerned). What do you do? There may be a record at the mosque. There may be a civil license somewhere, too. If such is the case then you will need a civil divorce. Given that you were a Catholic, the Church would not recognize such a marriage. However, you would still have to get from the chancery or tribunal a declaration of nullity because of a lack of canonical form. Only then would you be permitted to pursue marriage in the Catholic Church. Tell the priest. I sure hope that your current boyfriend knows the story. Peace.

  16. Hello Fr.

    I have a question about the gospel reading some time last week … Extracted verses below:

    “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
    Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
    Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
    He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
    “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
    Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
    He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
    He said to him the third time,
    “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
    Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
    “Do you love me?” and he said to him,
    “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
    Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

    What does the Church teach about:
    1. Why Jesus asked Peter three times if he loves Him? is it because Peter denied him three times?
    2. What did Jesus mean by:
    a. “Feed my lambs”
    b. “Tend my sheep”
    c. “Feed my sheep”

    FATHER JOE:

    1. Yes, each response of love from Peter avails him of the mercy of Christ to heal him of his three-fold denial.

    2. The reference to feeding or tending to the lambs or sheet pertains to the authority that Jesus gave Peter and his charge over the Church as the chief shepherd— what we call today, the Pope.

  17. Hi Father Joe,
    I’m a widowed Catholic and plan on marrying a divorced Russian orthodox lady. Will this be a problem? My understanding is when a Catholic marries a non-Catholic then a traditional Catholic mass is not done?

    FATHER JOE: The Orthodox churches have an authentic priesthood and the seven sacraments. Ordinarily, they require the marriage to take place before an Orthodox priest in one of their churches. It is often possible for a Catholic to get a dispensation to marry in an Orthodox church. However, it is understood that the Catholic will not abandon his faith. Indeed, if a Catholic married an Orthodox believer without dispensation in one of their churches, the bond would be valid but not licit in the eyes of the Catholic Church. However, there is a particular difficulty with your situation. While the Orthodox churches allow a penitential second marriage for divorced believers, the Catholic Church does not. Catholic law is clear about this. The woman is not free to marry you given that her first marriage was recognized by her church. We recognize marriages in the Orthodox churches as real and binding. This would necessitate a formal annulment (before a Catholic tribunal) before we would regard her as free to marry you— in any setting.

  18. Dear Father Joseph,
    May I ask where can I purchase a Catholic Greek Bible with English translation?
    Melissa

    FATHER JOE: I do not think there is one. There is a Protestant version (KJV) and you can get the Septuagint (OT), but Catholic efforts are multi-volumes and expensive.

  19. Dear Father Joseph,
    In the Bible study of TIMELINE:THE STORY OF SALVATION, the speaker mentioned that (Exodus 12:6) on the14th at twilight WHICH MEANS 3 O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON, ISRAEL ARE TO TAKE THE LAMB AND SACRIFICE IT. AND AT 3 O’CLOCK, JESUS IS SACRIFICED.

    So twilight here means 3 o’clock as mentioned by the speaker, is it right, Father?

    Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: They did not have watches. It depends where the sun is in the sky. The inference is that the sacrifice is late in the day or later than usual. Some authorities speak of sacrifices as between 2:30 PM and 5 PM. The earlier answer should be sufficient.

  20. HI Father ,
    i have confessed my sins two weeks ago ,yet i am addicted to pornography ,even this month of rossary ,i am not able to control my addiction so that i can stop doing sin and confess with a pure heart ,pls father pray for me ,and if possible pls give me some advice to overcome this addiction.
    thank you father

    FATHER JOE: Bring it to prayer and to confession (no matter how frequent). Not knowing the parameters of your addiction, I can give a few generalities: end subscription to any movie channels that are causes for sin, keep obscene materials out of your home, and beware of devices that communicate with the internet. If you live with others, keep computers and even tablets or phones in public areas. Counseling might help deal with the root issues connected to the addiction… anger, lust, sense of inadequacy, relationship issues, etc.

  21. Dear Father Joe

    Will I be able to see my loved ones in purgatory or heaven?

    Can we feel the pain when we are in purgatory?

    FATHER JOE: The communion of the saints implies that we will see Christ and be reunited with loved ones in heaven. As for pain and purgatory, the traditional answer is YES, the poor souls suffer pain. However, it is the pain of being healed… being cleansed of venial sin… being purged from the tendency or habit to sin. It hurts because there is a part of us that does not want to let go of the world. It hurts because we do not love the Lord as we should. It hurts so that we might be made perfect for our Lord.

  22. Hi Father,

    Any advice for a Christian struggling with homosexual thoughts? What does the church say? Any other resources you can provide? What should we do when a brother is acting out on these temptations?

    Thanks,
    D.C.

    FATHER JOE: Try not to ruminate on certain thoughts. God understands weakness. A good organization that can help is COURAGE, started by my late cousin, Fr. Harvey.

  23. Hello Father, I know some priests do and don’t believe in Hell. I was wondering if you do.
    I suffer from major depression and stuff along with it. I have been wanting to take my life. If I do take my life but go to confession first will I get into Heaven? I do not like suffering from my mental illnesses.

    FATHER JOE: Suicide is a mortal sin. You cannot be absolved of a sin prior to its commission. The rejection of the gift of life is serious. No one likes to suffer. Pray for courage. Suicide is an expression of weakness, failure and despair. Get counseling and choose life. As for priests not believing in hell, such would be heresy. The existence of hell is a settled doctrine of the Church. It exists and some are damned. This truth may pain us, but God will not force his love upon us.

  24. Hi Father- I wasn’t placed on the alter at my Baptism like you were, but I’m sure my mom has prayed every day, probably multiple times a day, that God will call me to be a priest. I’m only in high school so only God knows that for now. The pastor at our church has unfortunately been very sick. I pray for him everyday. He is in and out of the hospital so there are several priests who help cover for him. I’d like to find one person for confession since almost every time I go it’s someone different given the situation. Which is ok, but I’m working through some things and would like to find one priest for Confession who knows me at least a little. Any suggestions on what is a good way to find someone? Thanks Father.
    Nate

    FATHER JOE: When one wants a regular confessor, it should probably be scheduled with a phone call.

  25. Dear Father Joe,
    Exodus 12:6 You must keep it till the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter it at twilight.

    Twilight means what time, Father?

    FATHER JOE: It is the evening transition from light to darkness (the in-between time) prior to dusk (night).

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