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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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NEW MESSAGES/HOMILIES   CHRISTIAN REFLECTIONS   DEFENDING THE FAITH

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS   MARY OUR MOTHER

3,669 Responses

  1. The devil played a large part in taking Father Ken Roberts from the priesthood. He was saving too many souls. I am sure he is enjoying his Royal priesthood in heaven.

  2. Father Joe, I am dreading work as my boss is very ill and won’t talk to me about it. There are other issues, too. I seem to annoy them from time to time (not on purpose, mind you). I am doing the best I can. What should I do?

    FATHER JOE: You said it yourself, the best you can.

  3. Father Joe I’ve got a boyfriend. Before I kissed him I had to thought about something like arousal and I kissed him but I wasnt my only intention I only wanted to feel emotions when I kissed him, but not to make arousal. I have obsession about mortal sins. All the night I tried to block his touch, to avoid some situations but when we lied he held me, but I just wanted to hold him not to having something more. I was at confession yesterday and I think my soul have been ruined now. What should I do?

    FATHER JOE: Given that you are adults, it is natural that a couple should want to kiss and hold each other. Be conscious of time and place and do your best to be chaste. However, do not be so scrupulous that you destroy the joy that comes with being in love. As intimacy between the two of you grows, it is likely that there will be moments of arousal. Men are not machines and control is haphazard. Be gentle with each other. Help each other. Forgive each other. When you feel that you might have crossed a line, make a good act of contrition and receive the sacrament of penance. Having just gone to confession, your soul has not been ruined!

  4. Thank you, Fr. Joe, for your answer to my questions about doubt. I appreciate that you shared some of your personal stories and how you came to dedicate your life to God. I’m sorry to hear about the struggles with sickness and asthma during your childhood, but it certainly is a beautiful example of how God can take all things and turn them into good.

    I’ve had a faith since childhood that I cannot explain. I remember from a very young age, talking to God out loud and feeling his presence around me. My family did not often understand this and would make me feel funny about my conversations with God. I’m the only practicing Catholic in my family, and as I kid, I would often feel misunderstood. When you said, “Our being cries out for union with God”, that makes sense to me because I feel it to be true as well. Sometimes God can feel very close, and sometimes he can feel very far away….even absent. It’s hard to be surrounded by family whom I love dearly, but who don’t share my same beliefs…who also vocally doubt God’s existence. It’s hard to be the sole person to witness to them. In this situation, I can fall into the trap of allowing their lack of faith to pull me away my awareness of God’s presence. I can feel self conscious at times, and then it has me wondering, “maybe I’m wrong to believe what I do”. But then I feel badly because truly I feel that God has done great things for me….and has blessed me in ways that have left me in awe.

    Do you think God is patient with us for weaving in and out of belief at times? Does he understand that we might question our faith sometimes? There is something deep down in my being that affirms that God is all loving and merciful and that he desires to be united with me. When doubt creeps in, I need to tune into that inner place.

    Thank you, Fr. Joe.
    Happy New Year and God Bless!

  5. Father Joe, I got married to a non-Catholic from Liberia many years ago and since the wedding we have not been together. We correspond by internet and phone. That’s been for more than 9 years. Financially I am unable to get her here. So I am stuck in a situation that will never be any different. Am I married?

    FATHER JOE: If you were married in the Church then the presumption is that you are married. Was it consummated? I do not buy the argument that you are stuck. If you truly loved each other you would try to move heaven and earth to get together. There is something problematical not mentioned here. I would suggest that the both of you target the real issues and work for a resolution. Living for nine years apart from your spouse is insane and is unfair to her if she desires to be a mother. It also dangerously exposes the union to infidelity. Live here or live there but live together!

  6. Father, what does it mean for Catholics to believe in what other Christians don’t?

    Like, Purgatory, Mother Mary, the Saints we ask to pray for us, etc.

    What does it mean for us who believe in those, and what does it mean for Christians who don’t?

    Will we all go through purgatory? Will purgatory be the final chance of redemption for Christians (will successfully overcoming the hardships of purgatory be the final absolution of the sins of Christians)?

    Sometimes, I do not fully understand what purgatory is. What little I know often got muddled up with the stuff my Protestant colleagues say.

    If Jesus died for our sins, then why do we need to go through purgatory, and why does it exist?

    FATHER JOE:

    What does it mean? I am not sure I understand you. Why should we care if our beliefs are different as long as our faith remains true to Christ and the apostles? After the Reformation, Protestants either changed or disposed of certain teachings and practices. That is the long-and-short of it.

    As for purgation, it is not the final “chance” for redemption for anyone. The poor souls in purgatory need purification but their redemption is already assured. It may be that most pass through purgatory in becoming saints of heaven.

    When it comes to salvation most if not all Protestants tend to believe in a juridical imputation. Sometimes characterized as salvation by disguise, it is described as Christ standing in front of you. The Father looks in your direction and he sees Jesus. Those who stand behind Christ are given a share in his reward. The Catholic version is that of a radical transformation. We must be remade or changed by grace into Christ’s likeness. The Father looks at us and he sees his Son alive inside of us. Juridical imputation would require no purgatory because the full weight of redemption rests upon Christ. But if we must be changed, then the slightest blemish caused by venial sin or temporal punishment due to sin must be cleansed or healed. This is the meaning of purgatory. Many have a saving relationship with Jesus but still require the purification or final weaning away from sin or anything that does not belong in heaven. We must be made perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

    The Jews in the time that Jesus walked the earth believed in prayer for the dead. Likewise did the early or apostolic Church. 1,500 years after the founding of Catholic Christianity, Protestants broke way and fabricated a new teaching.

  7. Hi Fr Joe,
    I have been feeling some discouragement lately after some difficulties. It has resulted in feelings of doubt. Could you share with me what allows your faith to be so strong that you would give your life to God? How have you come this know and believe that God truly exists? How do you know that what we believe as Catholics is true? How do you know that Jesus was who he said he was? Could there be no life after death?
    I am not trying to upset you with my questions, but I think I allowed some room for doubt in my faith, and now I’m in a very unsettling place. I’m sorry for doubting, but I could really use a boost of encouragement. Any suggestions?
    Thank you Fr Joe!

    FATHER JOE:

    When I was in seminary we studied many philosophical arguments and so-called proofs for the existence of God. To this day the one that most makes sense to me is Aquinas’ argument from motion. An infinite regression seems much more absurd to me than the postulation of a beginning and a creator God.

    I believe that ours is a good God that cares about us. He has revealed himself in Scripture and Tradition as a God that has intervened in human history. The kingdom of God breaks into the world first through the person of Christ and then through his Church. Each of us has a desire for life and happiness. This world cannot sufficiently resolve these wants or needs. We also seek justice, and here too sometimes evil flourishes and the just suffer. I believe in life beyond the grave because of the redemptive work of Jesus and the proclamation of the Church. The moral argument is simple. A good God does not desire sin, suffering and death. These entered the world through human rebellion. If the scales cannot be balanced in this world then there must be an opportunity to do so in the next. The righteous that suffer will receive their just reward. The wicked will be exposed and punished. Life beyond the grave insures justice. We are promised in Christ that God will wipe away our tears and that there will be no more suffering and death. The children of God are invited into the very household of God. Indeed, we are baptized and anointed as members of the royal family of God. Spiritually adopted by the Father, we are kin to Christ and sons and daughters of Mary the Queen Mother.

    Is this all hard to believe? Chesterton, somewhat jokingly, said that if not revealed we would have to invent it. There is no other answer that gives such compelling hope. It is a vision of things that cries out to be true. What does the atheist hold out as an alternative? If there be no God and no eternal life then we all live in vain and our only expectation is to become food for worms. Sorry, but I cannot buy that version of reality. I feel in my gut that it is untrue. We were made for God. Our being cries out for union with him.

    Everyone has his or her own story, and quite frankly I have believed in God since my earliest recalled childhood memories. A sickly boy I spent a lot of time trying to breath and talking to God. I had chronic asthma and sometimes even coughed up blood. My favorite fairytale was due to these early days of struggle. Unlike other children, I could not run and play. This made me gravitate to the story of Pinocchio. The wooden marionette’s wish was my daily prayer, “God, can you make me to be like other boys? Can you make me into a real boy?” My health got better in my adult years but my poor lungs still plague me. The child’s prayer later became a man’s, “Dear God, can you make me into a faithful servant and saint?” Had I not been so often ill, I wonder if I would have so frequently talked with God. Further, in the quiet of my room, or at least between wheezing breaths, I felt that God was also conversing with me. God became more real to me than any other person in my life. Who knows, had I not been a sickly child, I might never have answered a calling to the priesthood. God has his ways and they are inscrutable, even drawing the good from the bad. I do not always understand. Sometimes I even argue with God. But in the end it is always “thy will be done.” Ours must not be a passive discipleship. We need to respond and to be as active as we are able. However, there must ultimately be a profound trust in divine providence. God does not promise us perfect happiness in this world. God does not require that we be successful in all we do. The one thing that God demands is fidelity. Keep the faith!

  8. FJ: Sorry Alvin, your comment post was DELETED. You may be a fan of Robert Anton Wilson and Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph.D but I do not allow either plagiarizing large segments of text nor comment spam on this blog. You are hereby banned. Goodbye.

  9. Hi Fr. Joe,
    I am an active, practicing Catholic. I attend Mass each Sunday and often 2-3 times during the week. I pray daily. I’m active in my parish, teaching CCD, etc. I live my life trying to follow closely to how God calls me to live. I’m so grateful for my faith and love for God. However, I am stuck in a repetitive sin that I cannot find the motivation or desire to try and change. I feel like I often go “head to head” with God, feeling defiant and justified. It weighs heavy on me because I know that I’m deliberately going against God’s will. But, I feel a bit trapped. Honestly, I just can’t seem to muster enough determination to focus on overcoming it. It will be a difficult sin for me to overcome since it’s been going on almost my entire life. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for me. Where does one begin when trying to overcome a sin that has taken such a hold, especially when the heart lacks the desire to overcome it?
    Thank you and God Bless

    FATHER JOE: Frequent recourse to the sacrament of penance is a necessary factor in the response to such sins. We entrust ourselves into the hands of God who is strong where we are weak. What is more important, the transitory satisfaction or pleasure the habitual sin brings or remaining in the good graces of almighty God. Habitual sins often have people focus upon themselves. Grace would have us place the emphasis upon God. Do we really love the Lord as we should?

  10. I work in the ob/gyn field and have recently asked many colleagues if they have patients who inquire about different methods and the readily admit some do ask but I could tell they aren’t very incouraging . It takes a lot of work but it can be as effective as medical means. But as a Catholic it is worth pursuing. Good luck and God bless

  11. Father, I have dear friends who are Protestants, and we often talk about religious topics. This is how I found out about the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism.

    I have no spiritual leader to ask religious questions to, so I turned to the internet. It says on various websites that I should not listen to the words of Protestants (and other non-Catholics) because their God is not the same God of the Catholics. (This makes me feel conflicted because I want to listen to the Catholic teachings, but also want to love and support my Protestant friends.

    Another problem I never had the answer to, were the views on salvation of both Catholics and Protestants.

    I do not know whether I am just thoroughly misguided, or Catholics just don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to that particular topic.

    From what I heard, Protestants ( and other Catholics) say, “Only those who know Jesus and follow and obey Him can enter Heaven.”

    But it’s kinda different from what I was raised to believe in, that “Everyone from any religion can be saved, as long as they live life as how Catholics should live theirs: obeying and keeping God’s commandments, and living Christian lives.”

    I was taught that people who did good stuff and were devout to their religion, and loved, and forgave, and lived/led great lives could enter Heaven. That means that Muslims, or Jews, or Protestants that lived emulating the values of Catholics and/or Christians could be saved.

    I believe it is Jesus’s mission to save everyone. I really do.

    So I am confused because I don’t know if I am right, or wrong. I do not want kind people to be condemned to hell because of their religion. I do not know what it means for infants, or children, or old people etc, who lived and died, believing and loving a different god than the God that my Religion loves and worships.

    What is the Catholic Church’s view on that? Will infants or kind people of other religions be saved or not? (I sincerely hope they do. I believe it is Jesus’s mission to save everyone in this planet, regardless of religion.)

    FATHER JOE:

    The God worshipped by Protestants is the same deity worshipped by Catholics. Ecumenism acknowledges the common love and faith that Christians have in Jesus. Indeed, when a Protestant person is received into the Catholic Church, he or she goes to confession, is confirmed and receives Holy Communion; however, there is NO second baptism. The baptism of Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, etc. is recognized as valid and unrepeatable. There is already a link, even if tenuous, to Catholic unity. Where there is a difference is that we also recognize the “real” presence of Jesus (who is God made man) in the Blessed Sacrament. You can certainly pray and even share Scripture with your Protestant friends.

    Jesus is the term of salvation. As the old catechism related, the gates of heaven were closed until the coming of Christ. The rebellion or sin of Adam and Eve breached the entire world from God. The Jews were promised a Messiah who would reconcile humanity with God. Jesus is Messiah and Lord. He redeems us by his passion and death. He dies that we might live. As God made man he can offer perfect atonement for the primordial sin and the infinite dishonor that was shown to God. There is no other way to the Father except through his Son, Jesus Christ. There is no salvation apart from Christ. Similarly, there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Why is this? The Church is the mystical body of Christ. She is the great sacrament established by Jesus so that men and women might encounter Christ and be saved. God saves whomever he wills. But it is made possible by Christ. We are called to have a saving faith in Jesus. This is more than sentiment or a profession on the lips. If we walk with the Lord then we live in the sure and certain HOPE of salvation in Christ— a participation as justified in the divine life. What is faith? Catholics understand it as closely aligned to obedience. We are called to live out our discipleship in loving obedience. Charity is also an essential element in our response to Christ’s saving intervention.

    The trouble with your definition is that non-Christian religions may not teach our commandments and may even spurn the notion of imitating Christ. Ignorance of the truth may spare some, but this may not always and in every case be true.

    Being good is a nice natural sentiment, but it is insufficient for salvation. If being good was enough then Jesus needlessly suffered and died. We cannot save ourselves. Christ is the Messiah who consummates the ancient covenant given the Jews. This connects Christians (Catholic and Protestant) with our Jewish brothers and sisters. There is only one covenant with mankind. There is not a separate one for Christians and another for Jews. Pope John Paul II was of the mind that Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians. However, some authorities argue that there are too many discrepancies for this to be the same deity. I am unsure. Certainly, we must repudiate the notions of holy war, forced conversions and other militant elements.

    Jesus extends to us all a universal call to salvation. However, this does not mean that everyone will be saved. The Scriptures and the sacraments give us all that we need to be saved. Catholics are privileged in this regard. There are two heresies or falsehoods which we must avoid: (1) universalism or apokatastasis [that all are ultimately saved] and (2) religious indifferentism [that religious affiliation does not matter]. We are not even assured that all Catholics will be saved as faith can sour. One church is not as good as another. The Catholic Church was directly established or instituted by Jesus Christ and his apostles were our first bishop-priests.

    The Church urges the baptism of infants. Some theorize that the prayerful intercession of parents and/or others might suffice for children who die before baptism. Indeed, the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen even had a prayer to spiritually adopt a child in danger of abortion. Ours is a merciful God and some argue that maybe the commemoration of the Holy Innocents is telling about children who so readily reflect the Christ Child. We are optimistic but leave the matter to God.

    While there may be saving or truthful elements in other religions, these religions as such are saturated with error and are not saving. Being good or nice will not save us. Just as there is no merit in the acts of a person in mortal sin, many outside the Christian faith may not be properly disposed for either saving or actual grace. It might not sound fair but remember that salvation is a gift that is not deserved. We have no right to be saved and we cannot demand it.

  12. Dear Father,

    I am in my 60s and no longer enjoy going to Mass. I go to Mass and can’t wait for it to be over. I don’t know who to talk to about this. Let me be blunt, Over my life the Mass has become increasingly effeminate and limp wristed. The cocktail lounge music, the ridiculous kiss of peace, women on the altar, extraordinary ministers, communion on the hand – this is not the Roman Catholic Church I was raised in. I doubt Archbishop Fulton Sheen would be comfortable with what is now passed off as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I certainly know Mother Angelica wasn’t. Over my lifetime, the Mass has become completely devoid of anything masculine and as a man I feel I have nothing in common with it. On Christmas Eve I sat there listening to the silly effeminate music and couldn’t even bring myself to receive Holy Communion. I left Church feeling guilty and dirty as if I participated in a Protestant service. Sometimes when I attend Mass I feel like this can’t possibly be pleasing to Almighty God. I feel bad even admitting what I just wrote. Not sure if I have a question but I do ask for your prayers.

    FATHER JOE:

    Actually, Archbishop Fulton Sheen was enthusiastic about Vatican II, had argued for a vernacular Mass back in the 1950’s, and offered the reformed liturgy. Indeed, as the Bishop of Rochester, he was among the first bishops to demand fidelity to the liturgical changes. Mother Angelica had a preference for the traditional form but she was decisively on the side of a properly translated English Mass too, without the many abuses we routinely suffer.

    I cannot say what your local liturgies are like, but I would urge you to see beyond the accidentals. Let your pastor and the members of the liturgy committee know how you feel. Many complain but few offer assistance to improve liturgies. The devil would have you close yourself off to the benefits of the Mass.

    Did you offer yourself with the offertory gifts as grafted to Christ as an acceptable oblation to the Father?

    Did you bring your petitions and prayers for the priest to gather at the Collect?

    Did you spiritually beseech God to transform you, making you more into the likeness of God’s Son, just as bread and wine are consecrated into the body and blood of Christ?

    Were you so put off by the sign of peace that you failed to discern it as an expression of unity with the congregants in Christ Jesus?

    At Christmas we recall that Jesus was placed into a manger, a feedbox for animals. At Mass, we see an altar that is one with the Cross and is a manger or feedbox, not for animals but for men. If Mary could stand by her manger at Christmas, should it trouble us if some of her daughters stand around the altar as servers or handmaids to Christ?

    You have the option of taking communion either on the tongue or in the hand. Why are you so preoccupied upon others when you have a choice? A pious soul might take communion in the hand, seeing it as a throne of flesh for the king of glory. Not all who take communion on the tongue may do so worthily. Did you take Holy Communion, fully appreciating that you welcomed into yourself the God that came down from heaven and made man?

    Were you fully cognizant that the priest at the altar acted in the person of Christ (the head of the Church) rendering in an unbloody but clean manner our Lord’s sacrifice of Calvary?

    Especially as our priests age and become feeble, extraordinary ministers allow themselves to be used as extensions of the priest’s hands— not as substitutes in competition with his ministry. Be careful that the devil does not misdirect your attention or smother the true meaning of the Mass.

    The Mass is ultimately not about entertainment but about worship.

  13. Hi Father!
    I have a question about Natural Family Planning. I am a 40 year old mother of 3 children. They are 11, 9 and 5. After the birth of my third child my husband and I spent a lot of time abstaining from relations. About a year and a half ago, I mentioned to my husband that we should look into NFP. I didn’t feel it was right for us to abstain all the time and wanted to be a good wife. We did so and started using NFP. A while back, maybe 8 months ago, I mentioned while in confession that we were using NFP because I wanted to make sure we were okay to use it. I believe that I mentioned that I wasn’t sure I want to actively pursue any more children. My 3rd pregnancy was difficult and I have Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disorder which can act up during pregnancy. The priest at the time said to pray on it to God. I assumed I was okay. However, the past few days it popped up in my mind again. I did some research and I am finding quite a few articles that state you can’t use NFP unless you have a serious or just reason. Would my age of 40, combined with working full-time as a teacher be enough? I’m also not sure emotionally I can handle any more kids. I’m sure that sounds petty but with teaching kids all day long and taking care of 3 kids at home it is exhausting. Of course, I chose NFP because I want to be open if God decides more kids are part of my future and want to be following church doctrine.

    I just want to make sure I’m not sinning against the church. I can stop using NFP and just attempt to time relations when I think would be okay times if that would be more in line with the church? Basically, I want to do whatever is morally sound.

    Thanks!

    FATHER JOE: There are various forms of Natural Family Planning that are recommended by the Church, albeit with a caution against any contraceptive intent or mentality. Unlike other efforts at family planning, NFP allows for both the spacing of births and facilitates conception for those couples wanting to start a family. You have already shown a desire to have a family and your current hesitance is in regard to your health and age, as well as the proper care of the children with which God has already blessed you. You readily admit a desire to be open to providence if God should desire that you have a larger family. Given all that you have told me, I see no problem with your use of NFP. God bless you!

  14. Hello Father, my dilemma is that I work in the operating room. Now we are required to assist on transgender cases. Turning a man into a woman and vice versa. Is it a sin to work on these cases? Can you give me some enlightenment and advice on this matter? Thank you very much. I will truly appreciate it.

    FATHER JOE: I would suggest letting them know that you have grave religious and moral reservations about such procedures and request to be excused. Catholic moral teaching does not see surgical subtraction, augmentation or alteration (reassignment) as the solution for gender dysphoria. Participation in the mutilation of healthy human bodies would be regarded as sinful. [The only possible exception would be if a person was wrongly augmented as an infant and there is a desire to correct a now clear mistake.]

  15. Does communion have to be blessed by a priest to be taken or can it be used outside the church and practiced in a therapeutic group by lay people?

    FATHER JOE: What you ask makes no sense within Catholicism. The host and precious blood are not blessed. Bread and wine are consecrated by a priest and become the real body and blood of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, whole and complete. The Eucharist is reserved in the church tabernacle and given as holy communion by clergy or extraordinary ministers. We will sometimes have eucharistic adoration in church where the host is placed in a monstrance for exposition.

  16. Hello Fr. Joe. I strive daily to pray for quite a few people–dead, alive, known, unknown. I’m not getting any younger, and so easy to miss or forget one. Would it be as beneficial to both me and the ones I pray for to write the names in a book—and add to it ongoing, of course. And then when I pray I say “and those in my prayer book”, instead of listing each one by name? Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: Many of us keep prayer lists and also pray for people by name.

  17. Dear Fr, I was reading Matthew 7:21 and it talked about the will of the Father and whoever does the Father’s will goes to Heaven if their in a state of grace when they die. But, my question is what exactly is the Fathers will?

    FATHER JOE:

    The Father has revealed his will in Jesus Christ and his inspired Scriptures. We are given the Decalogue, the Beatitudes and the Two-Fold Commandment of Love. Ours is a saving faith realized in loving or charitable obedience. Note Matthew 7:21-29:

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

  18. Sorry for the long story instead of a link. Thank you for the answer. Sam

  19. Hi Father, I am responding to your response about my previous question about my brother finding $40 (not $60) in a parking lot. There was no wallet, it was just flying around and it was behind a shopping center with a main store and then a couple others, so it could’ve been from any store. My brother actually already spent the money on a Christmas gift for someone.
    If it was me, I definitely would have turned it into the police, but I don’t know if it is my obligation to tell my brother he should’ve turned it in. My family knows I’m scrupulous and I’m not sure if it would be the best to tell my brother to now give the $40 back. But what do you think?
    Also, I actually emailed the police because I was worrying over this and they said no there were no reports of lost money, but it is “technically” considered theft, and if no one comes forward, the money has to go to the government. The police officer made it sound like I don’t really need to hand it in, but still, I am anxious over it. So I think I am just going to go and give them $40 myself and tell them my brother found $40 in the parking lot. And I won’t bother my brother about it. Do you think that’s okay? Or will I be in mortal sin for not telling my brother to do it, even though my parents already know about it and they should be the ones telling him to report it and they haven’t, so what will my word mean.
    Let me know if you need clarification on anything. Thanks so much!

    FATHER JOE: Drop it. It is your brother’s matter, not yours. The anxiety you feel is not from God. The police said there were no reports. Money that is found but not claimed does not go to the government but the finder (at least in most places).

  20. What do you think of this?

    (Yahoo news)

    Rev. Don LaCuesta, a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Temperance, Michigan, is now under fire for suggesting at the funeral of an 18-year-old college student that he might not go to Heaven because he took his own life.

    Jeff and Linda Hullibarger, parents of Maison Hullibarger, who committed suicide on Dec. 4, are now calling for LaCuesta to be fired for traumatizing his friends and family at his funeral on Dec. 8, the Toledo Blade reported.

    “It’s not OK,” Jeff Hullibarger told the publication. “He needs to be held accountable.”

    According to The New York Times, the Hullibargers had expected uplifting words for the friends and relatives attending the funeral of their son at the church where all six of their children were baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church, but said what they got from LaCuesta’s pulpit was condemnation.

    “It was his time to tell everybody what he thought of suicide, [and] we couldn’t believe what he was saying,” Maison’s father told the Detroit Free Press. “He was up there condemning our son, pretty much calling him a sinner. He wondered if he had repented enough to make it to Heaven. He said ‘suicide’ upwards of six times.”

    When some people started walking out of the funeral crying, including boys who were his son’s age, the bereaved father walked to the pulpit and whispered to the priest, “Father, please stop.”

    LaCuesta, however, would not relent.

    “People told me there was almost a smirk on his face,” Jeff Hullibarger said.

    “We wanted him to celebrate how Maison lived, not how he died,” Maison’s mother said.

    In a statement that has since been shared widely, the Archdiocese of Detroit apologized that LaCuesta failed to bring comfort to the family. It was also noted that the priest was suspended from funeral duties and would undergo additional training and review.

    “After some reflection, the presider agrees that the family was not served as they should have been served. For the foreseeable future, he will not be preaching at funerals and he will have his other homilies reviewed by a priest mentor. In addition, he has agreed to pursue the assistance he needs in order to become a more effective minister in these difficult situations,” the archdiocese said.

    “We have been in contact with the family since learning of this situation, and we will continue to offer our support going forward.”

    As many Christians, including pastors, have been victims of suicide, some have been challenging the enduring “myth” that suicide victims are condemned to Hell. Kayla Stoecklein, widow of late Inland Hills Church Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, who died after attempting suicide at his California church in August, wrote on a blog, “This is a common misbelief about suicide and it breaks my heart … I believe with 100% of my soul that Andrew is in heaven. Andrew had a real, raw, authentic, and infectious relationship with Jesus. Thousands of people will be in heaven because of him.”

    Kay Warren, best-selling author and Bible teacher who co-founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, with her husband, Rick, also supports the view that suicide doesn’t condemn a Christian to Hell.

    Warren’s son, Matthew, fatally shot himself at the age of 27 in April 2013, after a long and private struggle with mental illness.

    “God’s promised us that Matthew’s salvation was safe and secure. Matthew gave his life to Jesus when he was a little boy. And so, I’m absolutely 100 percent confident based on the work of Jesus that Matthew is in Heaven,” she told The Christian Post in an earlier interview.

    FATHER JOE:

    [I would rather you link news stories instead of cutting and pasting them into the comment field.]

    “We wanted him to celebrate how Maison lived, not how he died,” his mother, Linda Hullibarger, told The Detroit Free Press.

    I can certainly sympathize with the pain of a family over the loss of a child. Catholic funerals serve several purposes: they should help to give closure and healing to family and they are to offer the sacrifice of the Mass and other prayers for the souls of the departed. We leave ultimate judgment and punishment to God and so the priest’s words should touch upon the mercy and generosity of the Lord. While suicide is regarded as a mortal sin, the gravity of punishment can be mitigated by anxiety, addiction, mental health issues, etc. The priest must be careful with his words because we neither presume that everyone is immediately translated into Heaven nor that the souls are necessarily damned to Hell.

    It seems that the priest here may have fumbled in adding pain to those grieving. Those who die with venial sin or a tendency to sin or with unresolved temporal punishment must first past through Purgatory before they can enter Heaven. Catholicism does not buy into the Protestant version of what some label as “once saved, always saved” or “blessed assurance.” Rather, the faithful are taught that we live in the “sure and certain hope” of salvation in Christ. Those who consistently take up their crosses and walk with the Lord do not have to be anxious about their friendship with Jesus.

    A priest as a minister of souls must be pastorally sensitive to those being addressed and the setting where we find ourselves. A funeral homily with grieving family and friends is not the same as a catechetical lecture or general remarks within a Bible Study. There was a time, only a few decades ago, when perpetrators of suicide were denied certain religious rites and burial in consecrated ground. No priest or minister can guarantee that ALL our dead loved ones are in Heaven. Life is a precious gift. The violation of the fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” is judged as grievous.

    Fr. La Cuesta can be held “accountable” and corrected for insensitivity but as far as I can tell there is no deviation from Catholic teaching. He cannot be “fired” as the angry family demands. Did the priest actually offer words of personal “condemnation”? Might he have been misunderstood? No one wants to think that he or she has family members and friends in hell. I recall a difficult funeral I presided over years ago where the young man died in a gunfight with police. It cost both his life and that of an officer. The family canonized the boy. I could not.

    The dead boy’s father in the news story here lamented that the priest was “pretty much calling [his son] a sinner.” Of course, we are all sinners. The danger with suicide is that it allows little or no opportunity for repentance. I am aghast that the priest continued to drive home a painful message when people were hurting and even the bereaved father begged him to stop. How old is this priest? What is his overall experience with parochial life?

  21. Hi Father!
    My uncle recently passed away. He was raised Catholic but left the faith for a different Christian faith in his twenties. He was one of the most faith-filled people I know, but he never came back into the Church. His wife had a funeral/memorial service for him which someone videotaped live and we were able to watch it (they live across the country from us so we couldn’t go). I wasn’t sure if it was wrong to watch the service since it wasn’t Catholic and he was baptized Catholic. Also, I didn’t realize at the time, but I found out after that, his body was cremated; does that make it wrong to have watched it? But mainly, I just want to know if it was a mortal sin that I watched the non-Catholic memorial service even though he was baptized Catholic because I was debating whether I should or not but I ended up watching. Thanks!

    FATHER JOE: You are way too scrupulous. Watch a recording or attend, the Catholic Church has no such prohibition in regard to funerals.

  22. Father Joe. I have a question about gluttony. Lately, I have found myself sometimes confessing the sin of gluttony for eating too many cookies or other sweets. This is something I am working on and I realize that even if this would typically be a venial sin I do need to work on this area. Earlier this evening, on the way home, I ate some M & M’s left over from a project I did with my first graders. When I got home, I made my kiddos a snack that included some frosting and had some bites of that as well. Probably too many bites. At one point I know I said to myself …better put that away now and that’s what I did. Well… I went about doing my regular activities but my stomach felt a little upset and I had a slight headache. I have been noticing this when I eat sweets lately. My question is… I just went to confession last weekend and with Christmas coming I wasn’t sure if you think I need to go again before receiving communion? I don’t want to be too hard on myself but I want to make sure I am okay to receive. Maybe it’s just a sign to give up sweets. Thanks so much!

    FATHER JOE: Just say an Act of Contrition. The next “regular” time you go to confession you can mention it. What you describe sounds venial (if that).

  23. The exception to me would be a Marine Corps Semper Fi type tattoo, or other military such as Navy and if you’re a sailor in any case. That’s time honored. But to make your body into a statement or a billboard, yeah that shows a troubled psyche. My studied opinion.

  24. 1. What is meant by servant of the Lord?

    FATHER JOE: A servant of the Lord worships God and carries out his will. It is not a specific term used in Catholicism. “Servant of God” is a term employed about one (after death) being investigated for possible canonical sainthood.

    2. Why do you choose religious life as your vocation?

    FATHER JOE: Actually I chose to be a diocesan or secular priest. Other priests may belong to religious or consecrated communities that follow a particular charism or founder.

    3. What is a vocation to priesthood/sisterhood?

    FATHER JOE: I felt called by God to be a priest. I wanted very much to be an instrument in the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of souls. Religious sisters are women who feel called to live in community and to give themselves entirely to God in worship and service.

    4. What are the characteristics/traits of anyone to consider that has a calling to this kind of life?

    FATHER JOE: Such a person is in love with God and pursues a life of prayer and study that draws him or her closer to God. They must also exhibit charity and compassion in their dealings with others. Candidates for a religious vocation should also be chaste and willing to embrace a life of celibate or virginal love for the Lord and his Church.

    A fast and brief response is appreciated :)) Thank you in advance and God bless!

  25. As a bisexual is it wrong to want to be intimate with a priest? What should I do?

    FATHER JOE: Sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin. Only men and women can marry. All homosexual acts are regarded as both immoral and as disordered. Those who suffer from bisexuality can sometimes benefit from therapy. I would urge you to make an appointment with a counselor who abides by Catholic or Christian morality. As for the particular priest, it is probably best that you break off all contact with him. He is pledged to a celibate life and belongs to God and the Church. You should behave yourself. Say your prayers. Go to church. Peace!

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