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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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NEW MESSAGES/HOMILIES   CHRISTIAN REFLECTIONS   DEFENDING THE FAITH

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS   MARY OUR MOTHER

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3,625 Responses

  1. A few years ago, I downloaded a lot of music from someone else’s iTunes so I didn’t have to pay. I also copied some CDs illegally. I have since paid $200 restitution because I now realize it was wrong, but I paid it to the Church, rather than iTunes or other stores where the CDs came from. But I know you are supposed to pay it to the injured party. Should I repay the restitution to iTunes? I’m not even sure how that would work. It would be kind of weird to send money in an envelope to them.

    FATHER JOE: I would suggest that you bring this up with your confessor. The effort you made may be sufficient. Honestly, I am not up on issues of such property in the cloud and/or downloaded. I would suspect that the effort to made was sufficient. I grew up in a different world… music on tapes and vinyl records and now cds. When I was a youth we bought or borrowed the recording from the library. We even taped songs and popular deejays off the radio. It was a different world.

  2. hello father joe,
    have you ever had to do an exorsicm before. and if yes what do you do for defense during it? how is it typically conducted where you are at and what are some dangers that are present during it? if not then I apologize for wasting your time. if yuou have previously answered this question then directing me towards it would be helpful. thank you and have a good night.

    FATHER JOE: It would be best that you contact an official Church-recognized exorcist that is publicly known. Peace!

  3. My wife and i are having a debate in our home, friendly of course! While we need to be available for our children and family, is it wrong to diconnect….not takr calls or simply turn the phones off for 20 to 30 minites of prayer in the evening? My position is that it is acceptable.

    FATHER JOE: There is no moral obligation to always have access to active phones. I know families that silence phones for prayer and meal times. While there is no moral imperative, I would even suggest banning phones and tablets from the family dinner table.

  4. Thank you, Fr. Joe, for answering my question about my parent’s wishes to be cremated and their ashes scattered. I have decided to agree to their wishes “to the best of my ability”.

    I also agree with your sentiment of having them return to church and the sacraments. It’s a sensitive subject since they were both hurt by the church in different ways as kids. The recent scandal has not helped my plight to try and bring them back or help them see a different side of the church. I’ve been fortunate to know many wonderful priests, religious, Deacons, and lay people. My parents experience was very different. It was an elderly priest, Fr. Vincent, who made such an impact on me in my early 20’s who honestly is the reason why I first considered being Catholic. He loved me when I probably was difficult to love and even when I tried to be unloveable. He and I became the unlikeliest of pen pals, and he changed my life because of his care. I was so fortunate for my encounters with him! He is the closest person I’ll ever meet to being a saint. Fr. Vincent passed away several years ago at the age of 94. I wish my parents could have come to know him.

    I am the only practicing Catholic in my whole extended family. I love my Catholic faith and I’m very active in my parish. (teach CCD, help with parish events, etc). But it can be a difficult place to be because I often feel misunderstood by my family.

    Do you think God understands the hearts of those who have been hurt by the Catholic church? If those who have been victims didn’t have those experiences, they would likely have remained Catholic. I know Salvation is a mystery, but would God understand? Or, does God expect them to find forgiveness? I haven’t suggested to my parents that they should find forgiveness because I don’t fully know what they went through. It’s a sad situation all around. But, I will keep praying.

    Thank you Fr. Joe!
    Lauren

    FATHER JOE: Yes, I think that God understands better than we do. I sometimes saturate people who are estranged with religious gifts. Moving DVDs about saints or the Blessed Mother or holy priests can be helpful. There are also some good books about the faith and attractive prayer books. A nice picture for the wall or statue of the Blessed Mother might jumpstart their religious sense. Most priests are not rogues but caring shepherds. Would they be willing to have their home blessed? Is there a parish charity outreach that they might want to participate? When people witness the Church trying to help others it can sometimes overshadow personal bad experiences. Would they pray with you? God bless!

  5. What do you think of this?

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/pope-acknowledges-china-bishop-deal-cause-suffering-212334193.html

    Thank you

    FATHER JOE: The Communist Chinese are not to be trusted. I hate to say it but I suspect the Pope has been duped. The Communists will still get their men into leadership positions and if the Pope tries to veto one of their candidates, he will find himself still on the outside. The Communists are cracking down on religion. This is a ploy to better identify papal loyalists for the next stage of persecution. If I am wrong, I will be most pleased. By the way, this blog is banned in China and blocked. Where is the freedom?

  6. Probably I also felt like that older son from the Prodigal Son story. Politicians were so close to a Pope, although most of them are against religion in general and for abortion and such. What should I do to get rid of these feelings of anti-clericalism. How to not judge them in my mind and judge myself more?

    FATHER JOE: Bring it to prayer.

  7. Father Joe,
    A friend of many years has asked me to be in his wedding. He is Protestant and I believe his wife is, too. They have been together for over ten years. He has never been married. She was married a number of years ago. When he asked, I told him that I would be in his wedding. I am feeling as if that might have been a mistake as I feel morally conflicted. Would it be a serious sin for me to participate in the wedding? I’m worried that telling him at this point that I can’t do it would offend him to a degree that would end or seriously strain our friendship. I’m also struggling because I don’t want to come across as “holier than thou”. Can I go through with being in his wedding or do I have a moral obligation not to? Thank you.

    FATHER JOE:

    The issue here is the prior bond. Non-Catholics rarely make recourse to any type of religious annulment and so it is difficult to judge whether any such prior marriage would be binding in the eyes of God. It is possible that the earlier marriage suffered an impediment— but there is no way for you to know. Marriages are otherwise presumed as valid.

    The Catholic Church does not explicitly forbid Catholics from attending what may be invalid marriages. It is a decision that you must make in good conscience. Active participation raises the bar and I would have difficulty in condoning it when there has been a prior bond. Given how remote I am from the situation and the facts, there is little more that I can tell you. You would better know the character of your friends and the deliberation they have made to coming to this decision to marry.

  8. Dear Fr Joe,
    My parents are in their late 70’s and have recently been talking to me about their wishes upon death. I am a practicing Catholic. They were both raised Catholic but at this time do not attend church or practice their faith at all.
    Their request is to be cremated with their ashes to be poured out at the top a favorite mountain. I am fine with the request to be cremated as the Catholic Church allows for cremation. However, I do not feel comfortable with the idea of sprinkling their ashes the way they are requesting. Don’t the ashes have to remain together as far as church teaching?
    I want to honor their wishes, but I also don’t want to jeopardize their salvation or ascension to Heaven someday.
    Any advice? I don’t want to agree to their plan unless I know that I will carry it through.
    Thank you,
    Lauren

    FATHER JOE:

    Yes, the Church would prefer that ashes be interred.

    Certain dioceses will allow the ashes to be placed into the sea, however you must legally go out three miles and everything used must be biodegradable.

    The Church would prefer that ashes not be poured out over the ground or from a “favorite mountain top” but such will not affect their salvation. Unless the property is yours, you do have to ask legal permission (which may or may not be given). There are instances where a permit is required.

    The time to worry about going to heaven is while they they are still living. God can resurrect men and women from scattered ashes. Death brings judgment. They should return to church and the sacraments before it is too late.

  9. A family member is a homosexual and is getti g married. I believe it to be wrong to go to the “wedding”. Am I correct? Is it proper to not attend but attend the reception?

    Personally i would rather not attend any of it but understand that family relations are important. I do not like to be tolerant to the point of denying my belifs and supporti g somethi g i trinsically wrong.

    FATHER JOE: The Church’s opposition to “same-sex weddings” is strong and clear. You should not attend as a Catholic since it would extend scandal. Similarly I would advise against attendance or participation or gift-giving at any reception. The absence at the one and the presence at the other would be judged as hypocritical and bring heightened attention and negativity to the situation. You might send them a note about praying for them. You want them to be happy and holy.

  10. Dear Father Joe,

    Hi, my name is AutumnSpring. I am a Catholic 13 year old girl. Anyway, I’m currently worried right now about my last confession. The last time I went to confession confessed all things I needed to confess that we’re on my mind. But, I’m worried about a particular sin I confessed. I’d rather not say it in public. But what I am going to say, I kind of mumbled it, my intention was never to have the priest not hear me. I tend to mumble when I am nervous, and I’ll tell you I was. I’m worried that he didn’t hear me because he asked about the previous sin that I mentioned and he just stared at me after I meantioned the current on I was saying. I never intended to mumble I thought he heard me (if he didn’t.) Do you think he heard me? Does it even matter? I’m also afraid that he didn’t know what I meant if he heard it. I gave it my own description becuase I couldn’t remember what the sin was called. Do you think my confession was valid?

    P.S

    I also have another question, I’m sorry if I constantly annoy you with questions but the next time I go to confession can I mention the same sins I confessed last time? Thank you ~AutumnSpring

    FATHER JOE: Confessors understand matters like shame and fearfulness that penitents bring to the sacrament. I would be confident in your case that he understood and extended you absolution over all your sins. Try not to mumble next time.

  11. Hi Fr,

    I used to steal from a company I work for. I do not steal any more and I will be going to confession . I don’t know the amount of money I stole because I did it regularly over a long period of time . I have a jar in my room which I put €5 a week in to donate to charity .
    I know I will not steal again how do I know if my sin is forgiven ?

    FATHER JOE: If you bring the sin to confession then it will be forgiven. The effort to regularly give money to charity is a positive effort at restitution. That is good.

  12. Dear Father, I would like to start by saying that I’m an Orthodox Christian and I have been wanting to ask this question to my own priest but haven’t mustered the courage to do so in person. I’m struggling with anger/sadness/fear on this topic and I don’t know how to reconcile my feelings on it: Family separations, as currently enforced by the current administration. The majority of my church’s members support this administration, and they have also openly voiced their support for family separations due to illegal border crossings. I won’t bother commenting on legality; my concern is morality. I do believe we are all sinners and I follow Christ’s teachings as best I can. But I am incredibly torn by this. My mind and heart is not at peace knowing that I pray beside people who support this barbaric practice and feel absolutely no remorse. One of my former colleagues even posted a Bible verse attesting the legality of this! I know I should not judge, but I am beginning to question whether I am a true Christian if I’m feeling this anger and disgust knowing I am surrounded by people who are ok with this. Am I supposed to pretend their opinions are none of my business? I don’t know what to think or feel anymore. My husband and I speak about it frequently — some days I think maybe I don’t belong there. Any advice would be appreciated.

    FATHER JOE:

    Catholic congregations are also divided by this issue. Certainly a country has a right to secure borders and is duty-bound to do what it can to protect its own citizens. However, the Pope and the American bishops have also argued that we must show compassion to those who flee to our nation. Many face desperate poverty and oppression. They take seriously what we call the American dream and see our rich nation as a light shining through the darkness. While we might still fault parents for the separation of families; the fact remains that the children are innocent. We need to do all we can to safeguard their physical and emotional wellbeing. I would oppose the tactic of separating children from their parents so as to motivate immigrants to remain on their side of the border. The recourse of separation should only be pursued when there is evidence of abduction, fraudulent relations and/or abuse.

    God will judge souls, not you. All you can do is to continue to witness with your words and by your actions what you feel is right. Peace!

  13. Father, I am in no way telling you to justify these actions, but all people hear about is the priests convicted of crimes against children. There is good and bad everywhere you go. Sad truth. Why not point out to the world the total number of priests in the world and all the work they do. Point out what percentage of priests are convicted, compare to the total number. If it is 1 or 2 out of ten. That would be normal. The public does not watch EWTN. They don’t see how you deal severely with these priests, and how you live as transparent as possible. They don’t have the whole picture Father. They don’t see your good works. Bless the priests Father. Amen.

  14. Hi Fr. Joe,
    After many years trying to make sense of the verbal and emotional abuse in my “marriage”, my husband and I went to our first mediation appointment last week. Even with everything I have been through, there are still so many conflicting emotions. I never took my vows lightly. We both stood before God in the Catholic Church where I grew up, where I had all my sacraments, and where I currently attend.
    It’s breaking my heart, but this weekend I realized how difficult it is for me to be at Mass now in the Church where I have attended all my life. There is a sadness there for me now. I see the spot before the altar where we were wed……where I had so much hope for our future. It’s heartbreaking to me now.

    I am in the process of dissolving that promise I made to God and my marriage, and it is very heavy on my heart. Yes, the idea that I could some day live free of the treatment, stress, and abuse gives me such great hope. But, in God’s presence, we were joined. Am I feeling these emotions because it’s wrong? I need to hold my husband accountable for his actions, just as God holds us accountable for ours. I hope that God understands my struggles and forgives me for this failure.

    I’m not sure what to do with these feelings. I’ve considered maybe switching to a Church outside my town to have a “new beginning”….someplace where I have no history, but that also is a difficult move. I have loved my little community of a small town Catholic Church. I continue to pray, I sit in silence to listen, and look for signs from God to help guide me.

    I appreciate your thoughts and advice.
    God Bless you Fr. Joe!
    Sarah

    FATHER JOE: I can pray for you but only you can decide if you can still worship and find peace in your parish. Our history, good and bad, pursues all of us. Whatever you do and where ever you go, always stay close to the Lord. As a priest, I always feel a little bit of home where ever the Eucharist is reserved. Peace!

  15. Hello, Father!
    Pope Francis comes to visit us tomorrow. I was bit shocked when I heard that he just shakes hands with the pre-elected ones (security issues and lack of time, which I might understand) and questions to him are also from the elected ones which are previewed and censored by the Vatican authorities, so it’s pretty much a huge theatrical act….I’m shocked because Jesus never avoided uncomfortable questions and didn’t have a huge security around him and shouldn’t our Father present Jesus??? I mean St John Paul II came here without almost any security measurements and the holy mass was opened for everyone (So I’ve heard…it was 25 years ago and I was a really small boy back then and my parents don’t even know now what Catholicism is.) Our country is one of the most irreligious in the whole wide world. Crime rate is quite low as well and simplicity would be something that our small nation would really look up to. Historical background like violent crusades and soviet times has ruined the views on Christianity for many. And some tough guy with elite only getting close enough to see him doesn’t anyhow help to fix the situation nor to see Christ in pope.

    FATHER JOE: I would not call it an act. Given his importance to the Church, it would be wrong for him to take unnecessary risks with his life. Given the impact of his statements, and how they can be readily misconstrued, I would applaud efforts to screen and to prepare answers for questions ahead of time. As for Jesus, he did avoid directly answering questions and even refused to do so when questioners were trying to trick him in his speech. He also had twelve men around him most of the time called apostles, although they were not much help or protection in the garden when he was betrayed.

  16. Hello, Father!
    Pope Francis comes to visit us tomorrow. I was bit shocked when I heard that he just shakes hands with the pre-elected ones (security issues, which I might understand) and questions to him are also from the elected ones which are previewed and censored by the Vatican authorities, so it’s pretty much a huge theatrical act….I’m shocked because Jesus never avoided uncomfortable questions and didn’t have a huge security around him and shouldn’t our Father present Jesus???

    FATHER JOE: I would not call it an act. Given his importance to the Church, it would be wrong for him to take unnecessary risks with his life. Given the impact of his statements, and how they can be readily misconstrued, I would applaud efforts to screen and to prepare answers for questions ahead of time. As for Jesus, he did avoid directly answering questions and even refused to do so when questioners were trying to trick him in his speech. He also had twelve men around him most of the time called apostles, although they were not much help or protection in the garden when he was betrayed.

  17. Can a priest refuse the communion plate at mass for communion?

    FATHER JOE: It is the priest’s decision to make.

  18. Can alter server use communion plate after priest says they are not allowed to?

    FATHER JOE: The server must follow the priest’s instructions.

  19. My priest won’t let alter server us communion plate. . Does alter server have to obey this bad priest.

    FATHER JOE: First, it is wrong and maybe even sinful to call him a “bad” priest over this issue. Second, it is wrong for you to disobey his instructions at Mass.

  20. Hi Fr Joe
    I went to confession yesterday and confessed just two sins. When I got home I realized that I hadn’t made sufficient preparations before the confession because I confessed the sins that seemed obvious to me, whereas the ones I was unsure about I didn’t confess them. Now I realize that they were indeed sinful and I should have confessed them. But before I ended the confession I said “for these and other sins I do not remember I ask God for pardon”. Should I confess them in my next confession or should I leave it at that? Should I take it that all the sins I committed before the confession were forgiven?
    Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: All your sins were absolved. Forgotten sins for which you have a contrite disposition are forgiven even if not verbally confessed. You are not obliged to confess every venial sin. You are urged in the future to confess all mortal sins that need forgiveness and those already forgiven but about which you had forgotten to confess.

  21. Hi Fr Joe
    I went to confession yesterday and confessed just two sins. When I got home I realized that I hadn’t made sufficient preparations before the confession because I confessed the sins that seemed obvious to me, whereas the ones I was unsure about I didn’t confess them. Now I realize that they were indeed sinful and I should have confessed them. But before I ended the confession I said “for these and other sins I do not remember I ask God for pardon”. Should I confess them in my next confession or should I leave it at that? Should I take it that all the sins I committed before the confession were forgiven?
    Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: All your sins were absolved. Forgotten sins for which you have a contrite disposition are forgiven even if not verbally confessed. You are not obliged to confess every venial sin. You are urged in the future to confess all mortal sins that need forgiveness and those already forgiven but about which you had forgotten to confess.

  22. Dear, Father.

    I have a question about the sin of disobedience to parents. I’m worried that I’m in mortal sin because sometimes I read the Bible and my parents don’t want me to for whatever reason. I guess sometimes I can be over scrupulous and that’s probably a factor in it. Am I in sin just because I read the Bible?

    FATHER JOE: How old are you? Are you a minor or an adult? The fourth commandment (numbering varies) commands that we honor our parents. Originally the law was to insure that adult children did not shame fathers and mothers and/or neglect the needs of elderly parents. When addressed to children, it means compliance to just authority, i.e. obeying parents and those into whose hands children are entrusted (like teachers). The commandment has a double edge. Just as offspring are obliged to honor and obey parents, the parents (themselves) must be honorable. Their jurisdiction is NOT absolute. Adults have a right to their own lives. Children cannot be forced to do evil. Parents do not have the moral power to force their children to do wrong; such would be a grievous sin. No one has to obey immoral commands or unlawful laws. Given that bible reading is a virtuous act that pleases God, parents do not have the authority to prohibit it. Indeed, they would be in conflict with the will of almighty God. Thus, you are not in sin about this matter. However, your parents have likely committed an offense against God and you.

  23. I go to a Catholic college and sometimes some of my professors say things contrary to Catholic belief. Like one said something about contraception like it was a normal thing to do.And then this semester I am taking a Enlightenment Literature class and we just read a play and some poems that are very sexual and the characters are full of lust and they don’t treat sex as something sacred. I have to take this class for my major though. Is it wrong for me to take this class? Is it necessary for me to speak up to my teacher and say I don’t think these stories are moral? I’m enjoying the class even though I don’t like the content of what we’re reading. I mean I guess we are just learning about what the thinking was during that time, but I’m just not sure if I’m committing a sin. Any advice on what you think about this would be greatly appreciated!

    FATHER JOE:

    Colleges and universities should be places where there is an open exchange of ideas. However, it has been my experience that the more liberal schools are less likely to respect either tradition or the persons who subscribe to conservative, i.e. orthodox positions. One would hope that the staff at Catholic colleges would place the teachings of the faith above their own personal opinions; however, the signs of the times all point toward open dissent, intolerance and the impugning of persons. Deviation in the moral life almost always centers upon issues of human sexuality. Many have been more formed by a secular society than by the teachings of our holy religion.

    As for the Enlightenment, it is probably true that it signified the actual beginnings of the sexual revolution. Do your best to study it from an academic perspective and not one that would surrender to the prurient. More than this I cannot say because you have not listed what you are required to read. There are works that have little or no value. There are others that had a significant impact upon society and history. There are a number of works that I dislike, but as one who wants a voice in the public forum, I had to become aware of them or even study a few.

    Here is a short list of important works (some contemporary) that continue to raise eyebrows:

    Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
    The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
    Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen
    Ulysses by James Joyce
    Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
    Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
    Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

  24. Dear Father Joe,

    Hi, I recently read the Baltimore catechism and it said sufficient reflection must be present to do a mortal sin. Is this true? What is the difference between no sufficient reflection and carelessness? And would a careless person even be culpable for their sin?

    FATHER JOE: Reflection here means a thoughtful awareness. The antonym is not carelessness. One can give reflection and still be careless in terms of behavior. Just because you do not care will not necessarily mitigate a mortal sin. We should approach the moral life with a certain gravity or seriousness. Failing to do so is itself a sin.

  25. Thank you for your response Father… really appreciate it.

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