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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.  Comments are moderated so please be patient in waiting for them to appear and for any responses.  God bless you!





3,883 Responses

  1. If, according to the Catholic religion, a person needs to believe in Jesus in order to be saved spiritually, what happened to all the people who lived before Jesus came to the world? Are they forever in Purgatory because they didn’t have that chance? Or are they exempt because they had no choice? Thank you

    FATHER JOE: It has been revealed to us that belief in Christ brings with it the hope of eternal life. Further, if any should be saved, it is through the intervention of Jesus who is our Redeemer and Savior. As to whom God can save, God can save whomever he wills. It is not our place as creatures to dictate the terms of salvation or who should or should not be admitted to the company of the saints. The righteous dead who came before Christ awaited the Messiah and Lord in the “limbo of the fathers.” As the Creed tells us, the risen Jesus descended into hell or unto the righteous dead (both faithful Jews and noble Gentiles) and translated them into heaven.

  2. How do you feel about cigars? Is it okay to smoke one like once a year? Or is this sinful?

    FATHER JOE: I have a priest friend who smokes one each day after dinner. Once a year seems tolerable. I do not smoke. It is a good question, now that we clearly know about the dangers of smoking, is it a sinful practice? The universal catechism permits moderate use: “The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine.”(CCC 2290)

  3. Hi Father,

    My Father in law is very anti Catholic, he is coming to visit soon & I’m getting nervous. I generally just stay silent when he starts going on about praying to Mary and other things he disagrees with. What should I do? keep the peace and say nothing or reply and risk causing a rift between us? He is a born again christian.


    Anti-Catholicism can be motivated by intellectual disagreement, ignorance or bigotry. The latter two elements are usually also associated with hatred. Catholicism is an important factor in your sense of identity and mission. Attacking all things Catholic is a reproach against you. You do not need that in your home. If he comes in love to spend time with his son and daughter-in-law then he is most welcome. However, it should also be made clear that if he is coming to your house to disparage your faith then any welcome will be short-lived. You have every right to expect civility, peace and respect in your own home.

    If the disagreement is an intellectual one, then sometimes rational discussions about faith can be fruitful and allow for a better mutual understanding. Unfortunately, many Catholics are ill-equipped to deal with challenges or fallacies about religion. Similarly, many anti-Catholic Protestants are only able to echo the misconceptions they are taught or the so-called proof texts from Scripture which seem to invalidate Catholic teachings and practices. Often there is a terrible distortion of what the Bible actually teaches.

  4. Hello Father Joe,
    A young man cheated when he was going to College, and now, even though he repented and confessed that sin, he thinks he can lose his soul if he keeps the Cum Laude degree.
    He cheated mainly on one of the subjects (one not relevant for his degree). The rest was the normal stuff that the others did, like looking around for an answer during exams, the occasional event of an answer key that felt into their hands, or sharing homework. He says that the fact that others did it too doesn’t make it right (that’s true but I think he is being too hard on himself at this point in time).
    Aside from studying he also was very active with extracurricular activities, a part time job, and in the church. He dedicated lots of time to helping others.
    The company where he was working part time, kept him and gave him a promotion to a good position as a professional. He is a good worker, always has been.
    Even though he truly repented and confessed the sin of cheating, eight months after graduation he suddenly felt that he is guilty of lying with that degree. He thinks he can lose his soul if he keeps the cum laude part of it, and sometimes he even thinks that keeping the degree at all is a sin.
    So he is considering to go “come clean”, by telling the University that he cheated, even if that means to loose his degree and his current job (and so many other consequences).
    Whatever the consequences, he says, just so that he doesn’t lose his soul.
    Is he right on this?
    Thank you so much.

    FATHER JOE: He went to confession over this sin and was absolved. The priest, evidently, required no further act of restitution. Given this context, his continuing anxiety impugns the power of the sacrament. He should cast the sin behind him and move forward with his life. Given your details, his sense of inadequacy or unworthiness is reflective of a failure to trust God and to forgive himself. He needs to let the matter go. This anxiety over a past wrong is not from God. Indeed, it is more likely reflective of either mental disease or the movement of the demonic. There is no need for further revelation and punishment. The devil would love for him to derail his life. The answer is not to deride and to condemn himself over a past wrong but to open himself to God’s graces and to place his sights on doing good in the days ahead. He did much to earn the degree and the honor that came with it. It would be a sin to throw this away. Rather, he should make the most of his degree and job to be the best Christian man he can be.

  5. Is watching the news/learning about information or incidents that were showed on news channels and websites detraction?


  6. Hello Father,
    I am a Protestant who recently got baptized. I have been a believer in Christ for a long time. I gave my life to Christ at the age of 7 or 8 years old. Thru my time away from the church I have committed many mortal sins have that led me to my breaking point. I have committed adultery against my wife and i know that in doing so, I have deeply hurt the One who loves me the most. My wife found out about my infidelity on October 25th and we have been separated ever since. She will no longer talk to me and we are going thru a divorce. For a long time I have objectified sex by polluting my mind with pornography. I haven’t watched any pornography ever since we separated and I do not ever want to watch it again. I have masturbated at the thought of my wife since we have been separated, but I realized about a month and a half ago, that lusting after my wife and masturbating at the thought of her is also a sin. I am attending a 12 step program to help me stay away from these thoughts that have plagued my mind for so long, as well as, staying in God’s word. I turned my life back over to Christ and was baptized two weeks. I know my sins have been washed away. I am never going to fall back into infidelity ever again. The self-gratification clouded my mind from seeing the destruction of the love and trust that my wife had for me. She grew up in the Catholic Church, but is unwilling to go see any Christian based counseling with me at this time. I will not give of hope of reconciliation to my wife, even if she divorces me, unless she marries another man. I am certainly going to stay away from temptation as much as possible and seek counsel from God’s word to guide my path from here on out. I would really appreciate any words of advice that you would be willing to give me. Thank you for your time.

    FATHER JOE: Giving your life to Christ and reforming your life is certainly a good start. Catholicism understands saving faith as obedience lived out in love or charity. Protestants often speak of something similar, “You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?” Words are powerful but they can also be cheap. The steps in the spiritual life begin with repentance. Next is the person’s disposition that is open to God’s transformative grace. We often associate this with baptism but the sacrament does not function like magic. We must cooperate with the graces of God to avoid sin and to do good works. The Christian seeks to be transformed ever more and more into the likeness of Christ. Certain Protestants subscribe to the notion of “once saved, always saved.” If a believer falls into terrible sin then they would insist that he or she was only feigning faith and was never truly saved. But Catholics, in contrast, believe that true faith can sour and so we must always be diligent in our discipleship. It may be that your wife is uncertain about the quality of your repentance and conversion. It is also possible that she is so angry and hurt that she has closed her heart to forgiving and trusting you. There are few wounds that injure as severely as broken marital promises. It is a love that is ideally reflective of the covenant that Christ makes with his bride, the Church. Jesus is ever faithful and keeps his promises. Infidelity always wounds both spouses. Given the intimacy of the marital promise, many find it difficult or impossible to forgive and to move on as the Gospel would ask. You have no control as to whether your wife will ever take you back. However, you do have some say over your own continual response to Christ and how you live your life— about the person that you want to become. I will keep you in prayer.

  7. What can you tell me about Access consciousness therapy as far as the church is concerned. I feel it is as bad as rieki. Does the church condemn this as well?

    FATHER JOE: It is my understanding that it is a recent cult that preys upon ignorant and gullible people. The Church condemns anything that smacks of false religion and superstition. It is nonsense.

  8. Hello, Father!
    Is it disrespectful (or even a sin) to pray Rosary in sauna (alone, of course)?
    In our culture sauna has a strong cultural background- women gave birth in sauna, also it was the only place our ancestors could wash themselves during winter. Also, it could be a form of mortification even; to tolerate the heat.

    FATHER JOE: One might say the rosary virtually anywhere.

  9. Hi Father Joe!

    Throughout the last 15 years of marriage, my husband and I have dug ourselves a decent amount of debt. Some of this was obviously frivolous spending and at other times, things like daycare expenses, husband finishing college while I was the main one working, etc., led to some of the debt. We decided to get pay off of all credit cards except my husbands and we have done that. We currently owe about 20,000 worth of debt on his card so we say down and created a good plan. Thanks to God’s blessings in our jobs we are able to pay 450 a month on this card while paying off our monthly needs, a few monthly wants, and saving some money as well. We also tithe and are giving extra money each month for the building of our new school and church. Our plan is to have this card payed off in the next 4 years.

    About a year ago, we decided we would like to take a trip this next summer. We will be married 15 years and don’t get many opportunities for alone time with 3 kids. We have been saving money each month for this trip and are planning to go next summer. While I know we owe money in debt, I just want to make sure that saving money for a trip wouldn’t be sinful. I feel like for the first time I am actually proud of how we have been saving actual cash for this trip and not just running to the credit card to save the day. Does this sound reasonable to you? I tend to be scrupulous and want to make sure I am not mortally sinning.

    Thanks so much!

    FATHER JOE: Sounds great to me, have fun and celebrate your fidelity and love!

  10. Are you in danger of acting on these impulses?

  11. Father Joe,

    I am in recovery from PTSD from a sexual assault. I have a wonderful Catholic therapist (in addition to my regular doctor). In fact, in my recovery I feel myself drawn again to Christ and His Church. I feel that I am rediscovering my Catholic faith in so many ways. In fact, I am planning to attend a silent retreat later this year.

    My question is this: How does the Church feel about yoga as an exercise practice? I am reading some contradictory opinions. My friend who is also Christian (though not Catholic) is a survivor of assault and recommends the practice for its discipline. My therapist sees no problem either as long as I am sure to find a secular yoga class. There are plenty in my city.


    While the body postures of yoga are neutral, the ascribed spiritual meanings are problematical. This readily involves false religion or superstition. See the universal catechism (CCC 2111).

    I would lean toward secular efforts focusing on the physical exercises without religious content. Efforts to Christianize such things seem a bit silly to me.

    CLICK HERE for Christian alternatives to Yoga.

  12. Hi, I was baptized in the Moravian Church. When I was in 7th grade me and my mother wanted to become Catholic. The Catholic Church where we completed our RCIA had accepted our Baptism certificates from the Moravian Church that issued them and told us that the baptism was valid and that we would be confirmed and allowed to join the Catholic Church in full communion at the Easter Vigil which we did. Now years later I came across an article on the internet that states that the Catholic Church considers a Moravian Baptism to be “doubtful.” Can you please let me know if my baptism that was performed by a Moravian minister is valid. I know that he did use the Trinitarian formula however he used “Holy ghost” instead of “Holy spirit” in the ritual. Can you please let me know why I am finding some information online that says a Moravian baptism has a possibility to be an invalid baptism. Is it because the Moravian’s refer to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost? Please help me because I am now worried that my baptism was not a valid baptism. I do not think the Catholic Church that I belong to now would have allowed me to be confirmed and receive the Eucharist if the Baptism was not a valid Baptism, right? Thank you so much!

    FATHER JOE: Catholics once used the expression Holy Ghost for the Holy Spirit. It was how my father taught me to say my prayers and cross myself as a boy. There is no problem with the expression. The problem with Moravian religious communities is that they are not all the same and some take serious doctrinal matters somewhat lightly. The Moravians use the correct Trinitarian formula, but some of their ministers feel that the use of water is optional (or this was once the case). All the sites I have researched today seem to insist upon water and teach as we do that baptism may be by sprinkling, pouring or immersion. When in doubt, a priest receiving a Moravian into the Catholic Church may feel inclined to employ a conditional baptism. Apparently, those who researched the matter in your case were satisfied that the original baptism was valid.

    See this list from the Columbus, Ohio diocese.

    I would not be anxious about it. Trust their judgment that you have received valid sacraments. Peace!

  13. Hi Fr.

    How can I best explain to those that ask me about Matthew 23:9, when we Catholics call priests “Father”?

    FATHER JOE: Ask what they call their biological fathers. The manner of speech employed by Jesus is called hebraic hyperbole. The linguistic absurdity is a manner of making an emphatic emphasis. It replaces the exclamation (!) that we use in English. There is no teacher who teaches other than the truths revealed by God. There is no true fatherhood that conflicts or competes with the fatherhood of God. The expressions are not meant to be taken literally. Note that even St. Paul says to the brethren, have I not been a “father” to you? (See 1 Corinthians 4:14-17)

  14. Hello Father! I had a mass said for a dead relative. They put it in the bulletin and many of our relatives were there. During the mass the priest did not mention the name of the relative. Did our loved one still receive the benefits of the mass said for them? The parish priest was out the day of the mass and a replacement said the mass.

    FATHER JOE: While the priest or another may announce the intention for the Mass, it is sufficient that it is listed in the bulletin. The priest prays for the intention of the giver. Thus, you can be confident that the fruits of the Mass were applied to the designated intention.


    FATHER JOE: You plagiarized the text of Terence Mckenna’s FOOD OF THE GODS. This is the third time you have done this. You are hereby banned from making comments on this site.

  16. Happy New year Father Joe.

    FATHER JOE: Happy New Year!

  17. Good day yesterday I was playing in a casino which I do not do regularly. I won a price of $666! Later in the game I was at $66.66! I played my last game of the day and it said $6.66 left. Should I be concerned ?

    FATHER JOE: Only if gambling is addictive and/or that you lost money at the end of the day.

  18. I hope you can give me some clarity. While there are things going on in the Catholic Church that I am not happy with, and at times I am not happy with things coming from Rome or Pope Francis…..I am Catholic and I love the Church. I would never undermine it. Thoughts, actions or speech. Others do not share my sentiment. Lately I have been hearing about how great the Anglo Catholic church is. I am trying to be well equipped to defend our church. Can you explain it some to me? Is their Eucharist valid?

    Thanks for your help.

    FATHER JOE: If you mean the Anglo-Catholicism that is affiliated with the Episcopal Church or derived from the 1977 Congress of St. Louis, then the answer is no or dubious. Indeed, Anglican priests that enter the Catholic Church most often have to be ordained “absolutely” to insure they are in possession of holy orders. These men then serve in the regular Latin rite or within a small Anglican group in the Catholic Church that is maintained under the Holy See as a “personal Anglican ordinariate.” The validity of the priesthood is vital if the Eucharist is to be regarded as genuine.

  19. Hi Fr. Joe-
    Do you believe that physical signs as a form of communication can break through into our world from God, Jesus, or Mary?

    I have been going through some very tough things in my life. Recently I met a friend who loves praying as I do, and we have been praying the rosary, Evening Prayer, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet together multiple times a week. Our friendship has developed a tight bond and it has allowed my spiritual and prayer life to soar.

    Recently she and I were praying the rosary. There was an intensity of peace that we both were experienced. We were praying the sorrowful mysteries an at the start of the 3rd decade I noticed that my fingers were feeling slippery. I looked down at my fingers and there was an oily substance on them. It definitely was not from my hands because I work in healthcare and in the winter my hands are very dry from all the washing.

    My wooden rosary beads were suddenly all shiny and wet, covered in a oily substance. I have had these rosary beads all my life. I got them in college at the gift store at St. Joseph’s Abby in Spence, Massachusetts when I was visiting there. That was over 25 years ago. They have never been shiny and oily. They are wooden and a little rough normally.

    I showed my friend and she touched them and got some of the oil visibly on her fingers too. I’m so glad there was someone else to witness this. Immediately, bit tears rolled down my cheeks. My friend had to finish the rosary because I was almost speechless.

    Any thoughts on this? I have always been skeptical of people who claim to have physical signs like this happen. Now, I’m not sure what to think. Even now, the beads are still oily and shiny.

    Thanks for any thoughts or insights.

    FATHER JOE: I suppose it is possible even if unlikely.

  20. In a previous post you mentioned that presumption is a sin. Could you expand on that please?

    FATHER JOE: It is a corruption of hope in the soul where there is a critical imbalance in the dependence upon divine mercy and authority. One “presumes” salvation while ill-disposed and inert to God’s grace. It is a false hope or confidence that God will forgive sins even if repentance is lacking. There is a failure to recognize our dependence upon God and our posture as creatures. Indeed, there is a violation of our station where we would demand that God comply to human whim. Ultimately, it is a failure to love God as we should and we take lightly the sacrifices made by Christ in his paschal mystery.


  21. I have a question about Heaven and Hell.

    FATHER JOE: Actually you have many questions.

    Are some people truly damned?

    FATHER JOE: Yes. Matthew 10:28 – “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” [Gehenna = Hell]

    Is Hitler in Hell?

    FATHER JOE: Judgment is left to God. Only God knows.

    Are serial killers?

    FATHER JOE: Unless they repent and believe.

    What if the things they did were because of being psychotic or some other mental illness?

    FATHER JOE: Nothing is hidden from God. He knows our hearts. He knows who belongs to him and who does not.

    I think that to do something so egregious to so many that ‘messed-up’, they must have something wrong with them. More than just learned ideologies, like on a physical level. Maybe brain chemistry or some affliction. If that’s the case then are their actions truly their fault as seen by God? Wouldn’t he take into account such things? How does God draw the line between acts committed by one’s body and chemistry, as he designed, versus those committed by one’s soul.

    FATHER JOE: You are naïve about evil. While there are sick and deranged people, there are also those who are filled with hatred and a malicious spirit. Many are so self-possessed that the grace of God cannot penetrate their hardened hearts. They take and take and take but give little or nothing. Evil is real.

    And, if I’m lucky enough to go to heaven… wouldn’t it be a possibility to see Hitler, Dahmer, Gacy, etc. there?

    FATHER JOE: Luck has nothing to do with it. Neither can anyone apart from Christ merit eternal life. It is God’s gift to those who are disposed to his mercy and love. Why would you worry about seeing Hitler and serial killers? The value of heaven is the beatific vision— that we will see, know, love and give glory to God.

    Especially since Jesus is all forgiving. Even if they knew their sins at the time, if they repent at their death, could they still be Saved?

    FATHER JOE: Presumption is itself a sin. But, of course, if there is repentance and faith (obedience lived out in charity) then we have every reason to hope.

  22. Hello Father,
    I checked out a Christian fiction novel from the local library. It is about a struggling married couple who unexpectedly become foster parents. Seems like it should be a wholesome book. However I came to a part where the husband sees the wife naked and implies that she wants intimacy. No explicits where mentioned. I stopped reading it because I was concerned it may be sinful to read. Would it be sinful to read? If so did I commit a venial or mortal sin? I was under the impression that Christian fiction would be a good read. Thank you for your time and consideration. Leanne

    FATHER JOE: What is wrong with the mere implication? Husbands and wives by nature should want intimacy.

  23. Hi, Father Joe,

    I am feeling really confused of late in regards to my faith. I grew up attending Catholic schools and while I was never overly religious, I have always been curious about faith. I’m now 30 years old, and over the past 6 months or so I’ve had strong urges to start researching Christianity, read Scripture and bring God into my life. This all seems to have come out of nowhere as neither my immediate family nor my wife’s are Christians— not even any of my close friends. The other night I was lying in bed and I felt a strong need to go to church and pray; so I jumped into my car and headed down to my local church. Of course it was closed as it was 11:00 PM at night! I guess out of all this, I’m looking for some guidance and help on what this all means… is God calling to me in some way? If so will he accept me this late in life knowing that I’ve never been a strong believer in the past and am very weak in my faith?

    Thank you Father.


    My presumption here is that while you attended Catholic schools, you (yourself) are not a Catholic and have not received any sacraments. If not true, then the response below will require corrective editing.

    First, you need to sit down with your wife and discuss this new found attraction to faith and what you are feeling. Any decisions made will affect the lives of both of you. Second, I would urge you to call a local Catholic Church and make an appointment with the priest. If you should decide to pursue this “calling,” then he can direct you to the program for instruction and faith formation in the parish. Please know that no one will strong-arm you into the Church. After all the classes, there will be no intimidation for you to take the sacraments; it must be your free decision. However, over the years I have had a number of people, particularly husband and wife couples, come into the Church together. The classes cover the basic teachings of the Church. I often give various books to the inquirers. Among these are always a basic catechism and a bible.

    People come to the faith at all stages of life. I suspect that there is some part of your life that is yearning for what God can give. Maybe the Catholic schools you attended planted a seed that has started to take root? The miracle in all this is that you can feel this attraction when the Church struggles with scandals. God’s grace is stronger than the iniquity and weakness of men. I will keep you in prayer.

  24. My husband and i have been married over 11 years. We hardly argue and get along great. 2 years ago, my husbands ex fiance, from 20 years ago called him out of the blue. She cheated on him, and gave back the ring with no reason. She called to apologize. In the 2 years, she has emailed him.a happy birthday, twice. He told me that when asked. He gave me access to view his email if i want which i never do. He said he has nothing to hide. I was looking for something and came across a few 2 sentence Merry Christmas emails. She wished us both a merry Christmas and signed it ” all my love” and thinking of u always. He wished her one back with love always and just his name, mine not included. When i questioned him on the inappropriate wording he responded that her brother passed away in Sept. And she contacted him and then again to say her father was ill. He knew them both. I asked if this has been a continuous conversation and he said no sometimes it takes 3 weeks to respond. I was shocked and hurt. I mentioned that things might get to be more and more and use him as an emotional crutch. He said she has a boyfriend. I dont want to be selfish but i also dont want this to become more and more frequent. He says he loves me more than anything and would never leave but hes a nice guy and probably wouldnt tell her to stop. Ive read how “emotional connections” are very hurtful. I feel like ive lost some trust in him. He didnt want to tell me that she wrote because he said i would get mad. Im mad but more hurt. Weve actually have been closer than ever since weve talked and he assures me not to worry. Am i wrong in feeling like i do? Feels like someone ripped my heart out. He feels nothing was wrong about this and said hes not interested and keeps telling me not to . i dont want to sound like a broken record and keep bringing it up. I said he maybe incouraging her to keep writing by him answering. He agreed i was right but im.not sure if it will stop. Do i ask him to stop completely? Or watch what he says, which ive already said to him?
    I want this to work and he said weve been closer than ever. Any advice?


    I do not intend to be rude or to lack understanding, but it sounds to me (from what you write) that the problem is mostly yours. There has been no infidelity or violation of trust. Spouses can care about other people and still be faithful in loving each other. Regardless of past history or lingering feelings of friendship with this other person, he still confesses an exclusive love for you. I see no reason to doubt him. That is why he married you. The one warning light is whether you really trust him.

    Having said all this, your husband would obviously have to sever the email communication should she move toward an obsessive preoccupation or dependency upon him. I would urge you to pray for God to remove unwarranted jealousy from your heart. Given what seems to be a disproportionate emotional response, I can see why your husband might be hesitant in discussing this with you. Ideally, rather than feeling threatened, I would urge you to respond “as a couple” to this person with prayer and condolences.

    If all you say here be accurate, then you have a husband who is loyal to friends and caring for others… in other words. a good man… and he is yours! Be happy!

  25. Good afternoon Father,

    Quick question…I was reading a book on management that I wanted to share with my team at work, but I came across a sentence that I felt might be blasphemous and didn’t want to propagate such words further. The book contains a sentence that when talking about developing your employees that says “The good Lord had some development needs.” It is trying to make the point that every employee has areas they need development. Obviously though, this sentence is terrible given we know that God is all-perfect. How should I handle this? Is it blasphemous? Should I black it out in the book I share with them? Not share it at all? Thanks for your help! -A

    FATHER JOE: Sorry, but I do not know what it means by “development needs.”

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