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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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

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3,588 Responses

  1. xDear Fr. Joe,

    Thank you again for answering my previous questions and for all that you do. I seem to have questions quite often. Thank you for you patience.

    Could you shed some light on the Church’s understanding of the body and soul Bipartite teaching, and St. Paul’s somewhat confusing Tripartite statement(s).

    I Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12…

    The Catechism paragraph 367 states…
    “Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people “wholly”, with “spirit and soul and body” kept sound and blameless at the Lord’s coming. The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul. “Spirit” signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God.”

    This makes sense, but are there any supplemental writings – Church Father’s, Saints, etc… that might expand this further?
    …something that might be more digestible to non-Catholics?

    Thank you Father Joe. Please pray for all of us.
    Sincerely,
    eric

    FATHER JOE:

    I am a simple parish priest. You should address a true academic about such questions and for any books to further your reading. Those who do not subscribe to or understand Aristotle’s hylomorphism are probably scratching their heads.

    Your query aside, I will make a comment… albeit beginning with a question, “What is the human soul?”

    The soul serves the purpose that a substantial form would in animals and things. The human soul is immaterial or purely spiritual. It has no parts that can break down. The soul is immortal. Form informs matter. The potency of the flesh or the body is actualized by the form. A soul without a body is a ghost. A body without a soul is a corpse. While the soul has no parts, it does have certain qualities or powers, notably intellect and will. The late Dietrich von Hildebrand would add to this, the heart. His contention was that we were too quick to relegate the emotions entirely to the flesh. Indeed, he suggested that the affective quality was in no way inferior to the other powers of the soul and human person.

    Look at Hebrews 4:12: “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” The apostle does not mean to teach that the person is “tripartite” in nature or that there is a duality in the soul. He distinguishes the spirit from the soul but the use of “spirit” is in reference to how by grace we can be likened to Christ. We are ordered to God (supernatural end). Note that St. Paul talks about the natural man (unspiritual), the fleshy man and the spiritual man. Intellect and will are operative in the natural man but he struggles without divine grace and enlightenment. The fleshy man also seeks to live outside divine grace, and he gravitates toward the animal side or “lower nature” with its passions. The spiritual man belongs to God, possessed and liberated by him. It is here that we talk about putting on the mind and heart of Christ.

    Catholic anthropology tends to view persons within the bipartite perspective— human persons are corporeal-spiritual composites. While we appreciate human personhood in terms of body and soul, sometimes we speak of the person as a soul. This element of rhetoric goes back to ancient Judaism. We still hear something of it as when there is a tragedy at sea and the news is spread of a certain number of souls that were lost. Our view of a composite must be carefully appreciated because we do not entirely buy into the conflicting dualism of the ancient pagan Greeks. We suffer from a fallen nature but our souls and bodies were formed to work in unison or harmony. We do not view ourselves as souls seeking escape from the flesh. Rather, we look forward to a judgment and resurrection where we will be restored as body and soul. Unlike the angels we were not created as pure spirits and such is not our destiny.

  2. xHi Father,
    Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a grave sin that I committed almost 18 years ago. It was a difficult time in my life for many reasons. I eventually decided to go to confession, but it was more out of fear of having that sin on my soul than it was because I was sorry. At that time, I felt very little remorse. Now, years later, I carry it as my biggest regret.
    My question is, was my confession years ago valid if I was confessing only out of fear of being in a state of mortal sin and not confessing with remorse? Can (or should) I re-confess this sin or is it wrong to confess the same sin more than one time?
    Thank you Father.
    Claire

    FATHER JOE: Imperfect contrition also suffices for the forgiveness of sins.

  3. xGood evening Father,

    I am carrying out an investigation for a project I am undertaking concerning the Turin Shroud and I just wanted the expert opinion of a Catholic Priest. Part of my research is around uncovering a link between Science and Religion, and I just wanted to ask if you believe that there can be a link between Science and Religion?

    I also wanted to ask if you believe that the scientific evidence behind the Turin Shroud can be used to prove the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and if the Shroud is enough evidence to prove the Resurrection?

    I would really appreciate any information you have regarding this topic.

    Many Thanks,

    Lavina

    FATHER JOE: The Catholic Church thoroughly believes in the complementarity of truth: science, theology and philosophy. As for the Shroud of Turin, there are many opinions about it. Some claim it is the burial shroud of Christ and others that it is merely an ancient sacramental re-presentation or “mock up” of such. I am not interested in the question as to whether we can scientifically prove the resurrection of Christ. Without faith I suspect that empirical data would not suffice. I believe in the mystery of Christ by faith and have a genuine relationship with the risen Lord.

  4. xHello! I am 20 years old and was hanging out with a priest and some parishioners and I had a shot, even though I am underage and there was a girl there in like 4th grade and I was wondering at the time if I was giving scandal to that girl by drinking underage. Did I commit a mortal sin of scandal? Also I am very scrupulous and am worried that I’m not really sorry , so should I still go to confession? Thanks for your help!

    FATHER JOE: You broke the law and it is a reasonable law. What was the setting where drinking adults shared their table with children? I will not speculate as to the gravity of the sin or the possibility of scandal. We should judge all sin as serious (even venial) and all sin is scandal… Christians failing to be who they say they are.

  5. xHi Fr. Joe,
    I have thought about getting a “prayer journal.” I heard that the use of a journal with daily prayer can help you converse with God, and also keep a record of your spiritual journey.
    What is your opinion on this?

    Thank you and have a good day, father

    FATHER JOE: Get one.

  6. Ever since I enrolled into Jeff Cavins Detailed Journey Through the Bible course, I been highly interested in and intrigued with all the books of the Bible especially those of the Old and New Testament. My mother also thought me how to connect the New and Old Testament together when took a detailed course at Divine Mercy Church about the Gospel of Matthew and that was how she encouraged me to take up Bible courses to know more about the Catholic faith. So I followed and was completely mesmerised by it especially with the apocalyptic visions of the Prophets Daniel and Ezekiel as well as Revelation. However, Revelation turned out to be my favourite.

    FATHER JOE: Just be alert that many if not most interpretations of Revelation as prophecy are probably dubious.

  7. xdoes the bible teach the earth is flat?
    should the bible be taken literally?

    FATHER JOE: Not exactly. Hebrew cosmology is a bit more complex. But the Bible is not a science book. The Catholic faith does not subscribe to flat-earth views. There is an old saying, “The Bible does not show us how the heavens go but rather how to go to heaven.”

  8. xFather, in Revelation chapter 8, the first four of the seven trumpets represents judgment. However, I came across Catholic commentaries with differing views about the great blazing mountain that was tossed into the sea. Some said that it is the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans but others said it is parallelling to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius with its rivers of molten lava flowing into the sea. So which one is correct?

    FATHER JOE: I suspect it is the demise of Jerusalem but as I said before, I am not an authority on the obscure elements in the Book of Revelation. You seem to be obsessed with this topic. Why?

  9. xHi Father Joe,
    Last weekend at Mass there was a little boy sitting with his mom in the pew in front of me. He was about 4 or 5 years old. As the priest was blessing the bread and wine, the little boy said rather loudly with wonder and enthusiasm, “Is it Jesus yet!?!”. Those of us around him all chuckled a little, out of the mouths of babes!! But, then it did make me wonder. At what point during the consecration doe the bread and wine become the body and blood?
    Thank you, Lauren

    FATHER JOE: Eastern Christianity places a higher gravity on the epiclesis (invocation of the Holy Spirit). Western Christianity targets the words of consecration.

  10. According to the Jerusalem Bible commentary, it stated that the first rider of the Four Horsemen symbolises the Parthians who were the Romans’ worst enemy and whose favourite weapon was the bow. Is this the right interpretation?

    FATHER JOE: The author of the footnote would know better than me.

  11. Father, when we looked at all the catastrophic man-made calamities that plagued history from the medieval until the early modern period such as the bloody French Revolution, the two World Wars and many more. Do these events mirrored the Four Horsemen?

    FATHER JOE: I avoid such idle speculation.

  12. Father, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are the allegories of the calamities placed upon mankind by the Lord and they mentioned by the prophet Zechariah and in Revelation. I had been reading many Catholic commentaries about the first horsemen and some of them said that it is Christ though they colour white represents victory and the horseman, conquest. Is it correct? Or there is something else?

    FATHER JOE: I have no clue.

  13. Thank you Father for the astonishing commentaries.

  14. thank you Father.

  15. xHello Father,
    Thank you for answering my previous question about placing children in foster and adoptive homes. Your answer really helped me.

    I have a separate question, and I apologize if you’ve answered it before and I did not see. Does the Catholic Church take any stance on deceased individuals “visiting” the living through dreams? If a relative who has passed speaks to me in a dream, is it simply a dream, or is there any possibility that the true person is communicating through that dream? Thank you in advance.

    FATHER JOE: There is no stance other than God may communicate with us directly or through emissaries, like the Blessed Mother and the saints. Of course, they might also just be dreams.

  16. xHello! So I’ve been reading Clement of Alexandria’s writings, and he says that it’s sinful for women to pluck their eyebrow hair. Other church fathers say that it’s sinful for women to wear colors other than white, or to walk outside without their faces covered, and I know some people who say it is a sin for a woman to shave her legs. What is the truth about this?

    FATHER JOE: Such views are not representative of timeless morality but rather of an application or interpretation within changing and socially conditioned mores.

  17. xGood afternoon Father,

    Thank you for your wonderful explanation on Revelation.

    (1) I wanted to know the true meaning of what did Jesus meant when he said in John 14:28, “the Father is greater than I.”

    FATHER JOE:

    First, you need to start reading Scripture in a contextual manner and not by selecting small snippets or verses. Often that clarifies meaning and avoids fundamentalist misconceptions. Look at John 14:26-31:

    The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up, let us go.

    Second, Jesus is speaking both about his mission and about the mystery of the Trinity. The Father does not directly desire that his Son should suffer and die; however, such are elements that Jesus embraces so as to fulfill his mission. The Father desires the fidelity of his Son. It is in this context that Jesus speaks of the Father as greater and that he will pray with anguish in the garden, “Not my will but thy will be done.” Trinitarian doctrine speaks of the first procession in terms of the Father “knowing” himself and generating the Son or the Word. While there is an equality in the persons of the triune godhead, and God exists outside of time, this truth may also be an element of Christ’s statement. Note that the Father first sends the Son and that now the Father will send the Holy Spirit in Christ’s name. God as God saves us. However, avoiding any modalism, we often image the Father as Creator, the Son as Redeemer and the Holy Spirit as sanctifier. Of course, we do not call upon God simply by his activities but as persons or in his identity. That is why we baptize and cross ourselves in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

    Third, look at what is being said. Jesus is talking about the Pentecost experience of the Church and his Ascension to the Father. The Holy Spirit will lead us in the truth, give efficacy to the sacraments and transform us by grace into the likeness of God’s Son. Jesus will sit at the right hand of the Father as our Mediator. The mystery of the Incarnation is also at play. Jesus (God made man) gives us an example or witness of obedient discipleship.

    (2) When you mention the emperors before Nero could it be the previous emperors from the Julio-Claudian dynasty, the same Roman family from which Nero was descended? As for the successor, could he be either Vespasian or Titus?

    FATHER JOE:

    I would urge you not to spend too much time pondering such questions in Revelation. As I mentioned previously, given the obscurity of the references, the Catholic Church, even from the earliest days scratched its head trying to make all the connections. The inspiration for the heads might have been the caricatures on coins. Even our Lord, when asked about the tax, simply asked, whose head is on the coin. The answer was Caesar. It is enough to say that the Church and Caesar (no matter which one) found themselves in opposition. It is likely that we are speaking in Revelation of Nero and going back to Julius Caesar. I suspect the vision was also referencing Caesar Vespasian and Caesar Titus. But again, while one might explore this question academically, I see little practical value in such speculation. I would also not be an utterly reliable authority on it.

    (3) I attended a session at Saint Ignatius Church in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. A detailed history was given of the Catholic Church. The deacon gave a brief history about the identity of Lucifer by referring to Ezekiel 28. I would like to ask how is the King of Tyre personified as Lucifer?

    FATHER JOE:

    The king interprets the prosperity of his kingdom as evidence for his personal divinity. Not only is this a deception but it violates the commandment about the honor we owe to God alone. The prophet Ezechiel compares the leader of Tyre to Satan and the disobedience found in Genesis 2-3.

    Before the primordial fall, our first parents lived in innocence. Lucifer was an angel of God and had vast intelligence. All that God had created was good. Prior to the rebellion of the angels, Lucifer was an angel of light and a chief angel among the heavenly throng. The reference to precious stones is understood as the divine presence. In heaven the fire of God’s love and presence, signified in the stones, does not burn. Such fire only burns the damned. God’s abode is often imaged upon a holy mountain.

    • (verse 4) “By your wisdom and intelligence you made yourself rich….”
    • (verse 13) “In Eden, the garden of God, you lived; precious stones of every kind were your covering….”
    • (verse 14) I put you on the holy mountain of God, where you walked among fiery stones.

    The devil offers the temptation that if our first parents eat of the forbidden fruit than they will be as gods. Of course, the serpent has already taken to himself the role of a divinity, urging Eve to taste of the tree they have been told to avoid by the true God that made them.

    • (verse 2) “…yet you pretend you are a god at heart!”
    • (verse 15 “Blameless were you in your ways from the day you were created, until evil was found in you.”

    Satan is punished. The serpent is cast down. He will crawl upon the ground. He is driven into hell.

    • (verse 8) “They shall thrust you down into the pit….”
    • (verse 16) “…and you sinned. Therefore I banished you from the mountain of God; the cherub drove you out from among the fiery stones.”
    • (verse 17) “Your heart had grown haughty because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. I cast you to the ground….”
    • (verse 18) “I brought fire out of you; it devoured you; I made you ashes on the ground in the eyes of all who see you.”

    (4) I would like to ask about these two enigmatic creatures in the last chapter in the Book of Job, the Behemoth and the Leviathan. What are they?

    FATHER JOE:

    They are two mythical creatures, one of land and one of sea. Do they represent actual monsters vaguely recalled from prehistory? I cannot say. Some authorities suggest that Behemoth was a hippo or an elephant, perhaps even an extinct mammoth. Leviathan is defined by some as a whale but by others as possibly a crocodile. The latter seems more likely as “the twisted serpent.”

  18. Hi Father,

    How do I go back to previous posts? I had asked a question on salvation. “If salvation is for everyone, then why is it important to be Catholic?” … you had answered it really well, and I’m trying to look for it, can you help me please…. Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: You have to scroll down. Sorry, there is no good way to back track.

    https://bloggerpriest.com/ask-a-priest/comment-page-125/#comments

  19. xI am experiencing such weight lost that you would not believe it.

    It is hard to talk about the situation. I am feeling the touch of darkness— I think there is something here. There is no sign of the light anymore. I am drawn to the occult. It won’t let me leave.

    I am in great trouble. I don’t have much time. I am losing any will to seek help or to save myself. My will power is being rapidly drained. I need a priest or preacher to help me. I need help. Help me!

    Please, I have no other way to communicate with anyone.

    Zachery P. Wright

    FATHER JOE:

    There is a secular axiom, “If you don’t want to get burned then don’t play with matches.” Even the email you list here is malice666xx. Malice is the desire to do evil and 666 is the biblical number of the beast or the antichrist. What is wrong with you? Are you suffering from mental illness? I know next to nothing about you, but would agree that you need help, even if this posting is only a posturing or spam. You cannot play games with the demonic. Evil by its nature draws life and energy from that which is good. It is parasitical. The answer is to embrace the good. When it comes to people facing the demonic, it is important to put on the armor of Christ. His grace or power overthrows sin and death.

    Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and you, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast down to hell Satan and the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

  20. xFather, I have been suffering from depression for 4 years. I have been having suicidal thoughts but I know it’s a sin to take my own life. I’ve asked God to let me die, but I’m still here. Why won’t He release me? I’m not acting on my thoughts, just asking for release. Is it a sin to wish for death?

    FATHER JOE:

    Is there a reason for the depression or are you suffering from mental illness. Chronic depression is an ailment of the mind needing therapy and/or medication. Have you sought help?
    Despair is a sin against hope. Suicide is regarded as a serious sin. Ours is the God of LIFE, not DEATH. God will not collaborate with you in sin.

    Is it a sin to wish for death? Anything that clashes with God’s will for you is sinful. Ours is the Lord of life, not death. Suicide is an offense against God in that it spurns his gift of life.

  21. xHello, Father, I have been reading about the Whore of Babylon in Revelation and I seemed to have difficulty in understanding the seven heads of the beast, as quoted in the Bible, the first five have fallen, the one is still living during Saint John’s time (Nero) but who is the one that has yet to come but will remain for a short while?

    FATHER JOE:

    First, be wary generally about interpretations given to the images used in the Book of Revelation. Despite personal interpretations, the language is too obscure for a definitive ecclesial interpretation. Second, anti-Catholic fundamentalists often twist the references so that they can slander the Church and the papacy. The references to seven heads (also seven mountains or a location) are connected to “seven kings.” As you remarked, five had fallen, leaving one in existence and one yet to come. These are probably the line of Roman emperors (17:10). Again, the seven kings are apparently the emperors or kings of Rome up to the time of Nero and his successor. The ten horns are symbols of powers (corresponding to the governors of provinces). The Beast is pagan Rome (Nero). The Whore is Jerusalem. We do not generally try to put names to these kings.

  22. Thank you, Father. I understand this better, now.

  23. Hi Fr. Joe,
    Sharing the story of my 1st Confession, sorry that it was difficult for you to read. The priest didn’t know about my reading problem. I’m sure if he did know about it, he wouldn’t have been so hard on me. Thinking of this makes it easier to forgive him. I didn’t have much self confidence as kid to begin with so that didn’t help me either.

    But, there’s some good news! Today I called the rectory and spoke to the priest like you suggested. I asked if I could meet with him and I gave him the basics. That I haven’t been to confession since my 1st because it was a tough experience, that it’s been years since then and I’m unsure of how, that I’ve wanted to go but fear has prevented me, etc. So, I’m going tomorrow afternoon to talk with him. He was very reassuring and understanding and told me not to worry one bit. He told me to “be at peace”. He said we could talk and if I wanted to receive the sacrament, he’d walk me through it no problem. I know he is one of the many “good” priests out there. I’m still feeling a little anxious, but not nearly as much as I was. I’m hoping things go well and after almost 20 years, that I’ll receive God’s forgiveness tomorrow afternoon. Please pray for me if you can.

    Thank you, Fr. Joe!
    Anonymous

  24. xFather, you said, “When they promised to raise children in the faith, I have baptized the children of gay couples.”, wouldn’t the fact that they are living together as a gay couple already have made that agreement wrong and worthless?

    FATHER JOE: As I admitted, the witness is problematical, but I do not want to punish an innocent child for the sins of his or her parents. This is also the case in so-called “irregular unions” or generally for couples not married in the eyes of the Church. God’s grace might face resistance but is not utterly inhibited. Minimally, the lawful baptism of a child requires that at least one parent or guardian consents to the sacrament. There must also be a real hope that the child will be raised in the faith. I have known same-sex couples who regularly attend Mass and say their prayers even though they do not present themselves for Holy Communion. I can only take people at their word when they say that they will raise a child in the faith (catechesis and a life of prayer).

    Archdiocesan policy states: [3.7.8] “An infant born to, adopted by, or under the civil guardianship of, persons who are in a civilly recognized form of marriage or civil union for “same sex couples,” is to be baptized, the other provisions of this chapter regarding the preparation of the parent and godparent(s) having been observed.”

  25. xHello. I might take a government job as a case worker for children in protective services and be involved with placing children in foster and adoptive homes, and I’m worried about how state laws concerning LGBT individuals might conflict with my Catholic beliefs. What would my responsibility be when it comes to following state laws allowing LGBT guardianship while not violating my conscience/going against the Church? Is it wrong or on par with condoning that lifestyle to place kids with them? How do I navigate this? Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: It is a matter that you would have to personally weigh in conscience. The problem here for Christians who accept traditional morality and biblical teaching centers upon parental witness and the formation of children. Given that current laws have extended certain rights and protections to LGBT couples, this area no longer falls under your discretion as a caseworker. Might you still have a role in regard to other criteria? Yes, I think so. You want to place children in homes where they will be loved, nurtured and protected. When they promised to raise children in the faith, I have baptized the children of gay couples. Most of these children grow up straight but they still rightly love those who raise them. Of course, no one should be provocative or publicly immodest in regard to their sexuality— whatever the orientation. We might disagree with the situation, but we should do all we can to be respectful and compassionate.

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