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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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4,266 Responses

  1. If the flood described in the bible lasted 40 days and nights, how Is there still terrestrial vegetation and plant life? I understand how plants that live in or under water might survive, but the flood described covered the highest point on earth, which would not only be a massive amount of water, but the pressure could could crush a car. How did the terrestrial plant life survive?

    FATHER JOE: I suspect that the great flood included most of the mediterranean basin and the known world but not actually the whole planet.

  2. Dear Fr. Joe,

    I have not been following the matter of Cardinal Pell closely. But tonight I came across a report from Australian TV which makes a good case that he is completely innocent of charges of sexual misconduct. When I recall that the Australian government is trying to force Catholic priests to reveal what is told to them in confession, it seems that the land of Protestantism and Freemasonry down under is really going after the Church. I wonder if you have any comments about the current status of this matter.

    Just a reminder to my fellow non-Hispanic American Catholics. Today is December 12, the festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Would you agree with me Father that this day should be celebrated by all of us Americans, not only the Hispanics. As an Anglo myself I have been very blessed by learning more about Our Lady of Guadalupe and the most amazing miracle of her Holy Image on the Tilma of San Juan Diego.

    Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: I certainly believe that Our Lady of Guadalupe is important as an icon for life and in that she is the Mother of the Americas.

  3. Father Joe,

    This article was just published in Life Site News and describes the press release just issued by the German Bishops Conference in which they state that homosexuality is normal and adultery is not a grave sin:

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/german-bishops-proclaim-homosexuality-normal-adultery-not-grave

    Why doesn’t Pope Francis correct the German Bishops but instead he remains silent?

  4. Fr Joe,

    I have learned that there were more scriptures other than the canonical ones from the Bible we read today. The Early Church Fathers condemned these works and called it heresy to write scriptures that aren’t canonical. It was not until the 20th century that we discovered some of these works. They are a collection of early Christian works called the Nag Hammadi Library or something like that. I guess they are called Gnostic Gospels. The most notable is the Gospel of Thomas which is traditionally attributed to Thomas but nobody knows for certain who wrote it. These works are studied to this day by scholars, but are they of any use to us Christians? Also what could be the reason they were written?

    FATHER JOE:

    No, the heretical writings were not regarded as inspired or canonical. These writings emerged from groups like the early Gnostics who espoused “secret knowledge” and argued that the incarnation was a masquerade. They denied the humanity of Christ and negatively judged matter. They insisted that Jesus was spiritual but not truly a man. The crucifixion was viewed as akin to play-acting. The heretical writings are of interest for academics but are not reliable as testimonies of Christian faith.

    There were a number of orthodox writings that were not considered inspired or canonical. These continue to have relevance and in certain cases are older than parts of the New Testament.

  5. Good evening Father, I am writing to you to ask and pray for my son, Gavin.  Within the last year or so my son, who is 9 years old, brought to my attention that the devil is trying to talk to him.  He tells me it all started when my daughter, who is 11, brought up a conversation about the triangle of satan and asking many questions about it in front of my son.  We all had a long conversation and I tried to answer as many questions truthfully as I could.  Shortly after, a few months or so later, my son told me that satan was trying to speak with him and tell him to come to him and to be bad.  We prayer together every night at bedtime and I told him if it keeps happening to let me know.  Well, just recently after we said our nightly prayers he let me know that it is still happening but that it is getting worse.  The devil isn’t just trying to tell him to come to him and to be bad but to also kill people.  He said he would never do this and knows it’s wrong but can’t stop thinking about it.  What do I do father?  What does this mean?  I greatly appreciate your time.
    Jackie

    FATHER JOE:

    “Satan’s Triangle” was a 1975 NCB TV horror movie. It was a fictional tale but one that I recall was quite scary and a so-called priest was part of the story-line. The film came out at a time when there was a lot of sensational hype about the Bermuda Triangle. The cast dies and that might where the child is getting the notion that the devil wants to kill people. Children have vivid imaginations and often have a hard time distinguishing the real from the fictional. He should not have been allowed to see the movie. If we are not talking about the film then I am at a loss; I know nothing else about any kind of demonic triangle.

    You may want to check if there is anything that the child is taking that might be causing delusions of satanic conversation. Attention Deficit Medication sometimes causes delusions and psychotic-type episodes. I knew a child who had to change prescriptions because of this. Do whatever you can to exhaust medical or psychological causes before leaping to a spiritual one. As a boy I experienced a frightening bombardment by a dark spiritual entity and I refused to give in to fear. I said my prayers, went to Church and trusted in Jesus and the Blessed Mother. I also employed sacramentals like holy pictures, crucifixes on the wall and holy water. It was one of the elements in my personal history that drove me to the priesthood.

  6. Why can I recite my sins in my head and be forgiven instead of going to a priest?

    FATHER JOE: You can certainly pray to God for mercy and know forgiveness. The sacrament of penance assures us of absolution as members of the Church. Remember that ours is both a personal and a corporate faith. Our sins touch others. This also needs healing. Certain mortal sins are reserved to the Church and we should seek confession. The sacrament gives actual graces to help us in an amendment of life and to properly live out our Christian discipleship.

  7. Hi Fr Joe,

    In connection with the “world in front of the text” of the overall Book and of Rev. 14:

    (1) How the Book of Revelation has been interpreted through the centuries…

    a. Which interpretations in the past have been problematic and why? (see the Middle Ages: Joachim of Fiore’s interpretation)

    b. What is “millennialism” and why has it been controversial?

    c. What is the real danger in interpreting symbols (such as “Babylon” in Rev. 14:8) as referring to a specific event?

    (2) In connection with Revelation 14 – and its depiction of violence (see Carmody, p. 304)

    a. In what ways can the depiction of violence in Revelation 14 be problematic? (see Crusades, the Inquisition)

    b. How can the depiction of violence in Revelation still be valid today?

    FATHER JOE:

    While Catholic churchmen certainly acknowledge that Christ will return, and that there will be a harvest of souls and judgment, we tend to shy away from attempting to interpret the many mysterious elements in the Book of Revelation. While the pagan emperor was viewed as an antichrist, there have been many antichrists throughout history and likely at the end of history. The Church, like her Lord, is opposed by the world. The heretical Montanists (135 AD to 177 AD) interpreted the Book of Revelation so as to expect Christ to return soon and establish a New Jerusalem in Asia Minor. The Hussite Taborites (15th century) interpreted Revelation as prescribing violence or insurrection as a prerequisite for the second coming. Anti-Catholic fundamentalism has imagined (based on a political view of the Apocalypse) all sorts of end-times scenarios from the 1960’s to the present.

    I would side with St. Augustine who argued against taking the Book of Revelation literally. Joachim of Fiore’s commentary was overly speculative and the utopian world under the Holy Spirit never materialized. (He argued for an age of the Father, of the Son and a third one under the Holy Spirit.) We may speak of our time as the age or as the season of the Holy Spirit, but the Church would not mean what he intended by the label.

    The theory of millennialism is that Jesus would have a thousand year earthly reign. While certain Catholic thinkers speculated about it, this notion is not an element of official Catholic teaching. However, a number of non-Catholics have picked up on the idea and teach this as a facet of their end-times scenario.

    The danger with interpretation throughout is demonstrated again and again as largely unreliable. Scripture should speak to us but many turn this around and read too much into the Book of Revelation. The Protestant reformers wrongly identified the papacy with the antichrist and the Catholic Church with the Whore of Babylon. It becomes an occasion for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and opposition to the house built by Jesus.

  8. My daughter is 16 and wants to be on birth control. My husband and I are against this. What should we do?

    FATHER JOE:

    First, while it might seem obvious, ask her why she wants birth control. Make sure that you know what is going on. Are there any medical reasons why she may need contraceptives to control menstrual pain and excessive bleeding? Is there a boy who is pressuring her to surrender her virginity? Is she already sexually active? Many young people would probably not even bring this up with parents. They would just do what they are going to do. The fact that she has opened up to you says volumes about how you have raised her. She is being honest with you. Be equally frank but also compassionate with her. The transformation from a child to an adult is not easy. If mistakes have been made, no matter how angry you might feel, let her know that she is loved and that you will always be willing to forgive and help her.

    Second, while you would not want her to become a teen mother, a Catholic Christian would become complicit with sin be paying for contraceptives and enabling, even if indirectly, a promiscuous lifestyle. She is living under your roof and as parents it is reasonable for you to want any minors to live by your values. What they do when they grow up and move out is up to them. Right now, they are dependent for you for clothes, shelter, food and money. Kids who are not yet able to take care of themselves should not be sexually engaged. Playing house is not the same as actually keeping one with hard work and sacrifice. Gauge, as best as you can, her current maturity as this will impact upon the advice you give and her capacity to understand and accept.

    Third, let her know that you love her and discuss the value of purity. Has she had any instruction on the theology of the body and why couples should wait until they are older (and married) before having intimate sexual relations. If she is a committed Christian, direct her attention to the bible passages that discuss the sin of fornication and how it can cost us a share in the kingdom of God. The ideal is not jumping from bed to bed but to find a stable long-term and committed relationship.

    Fourth, know that your stance will find opposition among her peers, teachers and others. She may even cite them against you. Remember that public schools regularly distribute condoms to youths and in several instances school nurses have assisted youths in getting abortions. They will argue that it is only natural that she wants to explore her sexual identity and that if you are “good” parents that you would “understand” and want to protect her. Little credence is given abstinence from this quarter. There will be an effort to “guilt” you into changing your minds. It may even be thrown into your face that you, as a couple, used contraception or became sexually active when younger. If such is the case, let her know that you only want her to avoid the mistakes you made. Let her know as well that women, with or without birth control, are often victimized and abused in promiscuous sexual relationships. They are frequently exploited and their dignity as persons is cheapened as no more than “meat” for men who place lust over (real) love.

    Fifth, discussions between a mother and daughter about sexuality can be opportunities for wonderful female bonding; but do not go along with the crowd that says a sixteen year old should initiate a carnal life. Talk to her about the joys of being a young woman and her natural attraction to boys. Speak frankly about helping young men to be their better selves and looking for a man that would respect her as a person and not simply want to exploit her body. Speak of the sacred elements of marriage as well as about the perils of teenage sex, especially about HIV and the venereal diseases that afflict millions of people. Sexual intimacy and the marital act should be directed to the fidelity of spouses and to the gift of life. It is horrendously corrupted when reduced to self-seeking pleasure and the pollution of the flesh. Sex should be directed to life. When misdirected, sex ushers forth death, either in diseases that afflict the partners or in the killing of children, either through direct abortion or through the abortifacient action of numerous contraceptives.

  9. Hi Father
    I am a member of the Pioneers and therefore we have taken the pledge of total abstinence for alcohol, narcotics and tobacco. I did this in my local Catholic church in Cork, Ireland. The other day my boyfriend bought us some xmas cakes with brandy butter on top of it. Is eating one of those breaking the Pledge do you know? I am not an alcoholic so alcohol won’t harm me but my family and I took the Pledge as part of the Irish temperance movement started back in the 1800s . So it is a religious pledge dedicated to the Sacred Heart. My boyfriend says it doesn’t count as it’s only a small bit of brandyin the buttercream but I’m not sure. I don’t want to break my Pledge. What do you think?

    FATHER JOE: I suspect it is okay.

  10. Revelation 18:2 Can you please clarify this passage? I thought all animals were considered clean? Why does it mention unclean birds and beasts in this apocalyptic Scripture?

    FATHER JOE: It is using Hebrew images for that which is unclean. Read Leviticus 11:13-19: “Of the birds, these you shall loathe; they shall not be eaten, they are loathsome: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, the kite, the various species of falcons, the various species of crows, the eagle owl, the kestrel, the long-eared owl, the various species of hawks, the little owl, the cormorant, the screech owl, the barn owl, the horned owl, the osprey, the stork, the various species of herons, the hoopoe, and the bat.”

  11. The ladies group leads the rosary before mass. What is the etiquette for me during this time. I arrive before mass but not before Rosary begins. I like time before mass to pray, bookmark the songs, read the readings and reflect on them prior to mass there is little time between end of Rosary and beginning of mass. I feel obligated to participate but then I don’t feel centered and focused during mass as I haven’t had my time before mass. Is it okay for me to not participate and do what I need to do before mass?

    FATHER JOE: It is a private devotion prior to Mass. You are free to prepare for Mass in a different way.

  12. Hi sir,
    how does a person prepare for confirmation and what is the expectation of people who have been confirmed before and after their confirmation?

    FATHER JOE: Catholic youth prepare for confirmation as part of a school or parish catechesis program. Adults also take instructions, either as part of RCIA efforts or as special adult religious education classes. The expectation before and after is the same, that a person will cooperate with the graces of God in living out the Catholic faith… participation at Sunday Mass, saying daily prayers, marrying in the Church, living a moral life, pursuing charity, etc.

  13. Dear Father Joe,

    Thank you for your comments on Fr. Ken Roberts (Playboy to Priest, etc.). I realize the comments are closed for that post, but just wanted to say “Thank You” for an update on Fr. Roberts’ death. I met him at a Eucharistic Rosary Conference in St. Louis in 1993, and had the privilege of some excellent comments, suggestions, and ideas from the speakers there, as well as a “near miss” from a tornado coming down to just about the Arena (the site of the Conference), hovering, and returning to the sky. It was also filmed by a local TV crew, and reported as a miracle.

    I wasn’t sure of exactly what the reason for his removal from ministry, and I’ve often wished much of his material was still available, as it clearly taught lessons about our Faith. (The same is true of Fr. John Corapi, who is no longer in a ministry.) I believe the Church has lost some very good teachers, and pray for priests every day. I’m sure Satan is attacking you priests, because without priests to say Mass and consecrate hosts, we won’t have Jesus with us.

    There’s no need to reply to this comment, or to post it as a reply, but I’m certainly glad I found your blog site. Thank you for your vocation, and your perseverance in that vocation. God Bless you and your ministry!

    Pete McCue

  14. Hi Father,
    I’m sorry if this is an unintelligent question that I should know the answer to, but I don’t.
    On the Miraculous Medal, where it says “those of us who have recourse to Thee,” could you clarify what that means? Does it only apply to believing Catholics, or everybody?

    FATHER JOE: It is as it says, it refers to any who would make “recourse” to her. It is presumed that one has a Catholic faith that acknowledges Marian intercession and that one is baptized into the saving community of the Church. The devotion cannot function outside of the redemptive work of Christ or bypass the sacramental life. Private revelation does not trump public revelation.

  15. What is an acceptable release of sexual tension for teens? Adults? Outside of marriage of course.

    FATHER JOE: Outside of marriage the release of tension should bypass sexual sin. Exercise is something that many recommend. Prayer is good, too.

  16. P.S. this video begins with a very popular song about Our Lady of Guadalupe, sung at a Papal Mass at the great Basilica in Mexico City.

  17. I’m afraid my anger and lack of forgiveness and general short fuse with relatives and in laws is keeping me from heaven and communion with Jesus. Any advice? I can’t get the hate out of my heart.

    FATHER JOE: A lot depends upon what precisely is upsetting you. The Church would ask that we reconcile with one another and know the mercy of Christ. You can also pray for a tranquil spirit or for inner peace.

  18. Hello
    My question is as a servant of Jesus should I continue a friendship with someone who broke the law and I don’t trust? We’ve been friends for many years. I pray for her and her family, but would God want me to continue a friendship with someone was dishonest and worse does not seem remorseful? We are called to forgive, but how is a healthy friendship able to continue if I don’t trust her?

    FATHER JOE: Did Jesus seek to maintain his relationship with his apostles, especially Judas and Peter? While children should often avoid companions so as to stay out of trouble, we as adults can assist in the repentance and conversion of others. Instead of dismissing her, maybe you could help her to turn her life around? Maybe the problem is not her but that you are not a good enough friend to want to try to make a difference in her life?

  19. Hello, I have a friend whose been acting quite strange lately. My other friends and I aren’t sure how to assist her, but she’s been spewing nonsense and concerning her. We fear that she’s losing her senses at such a young age, any advice?

    FATHER JOE: See a doctor.

  20. Dear Fr. Joe,

    This week while visiting Japan the Pope said that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral.

    Ithis type of statement from the Pope one of faith and morals that we must believe as Catholics? Or is he simply speaking his opinion (prudential judgement) similar to his statements on climate change?

    I work in the defense industry and I believe that it is the US nuclear weapons that has deterred Russia and China from attacking us and the West. Pope Saint John Paul II never made such a statement about the mere possession of such weapons.

    FATHER JOE: Just as with just-war theory, the Church comes up with basic moral principles and then it is the jurisdiction of secular authority to determine how to implement them. There was an unresolved debate from the Cold War days about nuclear weapons as they seem to violate not only just-war principles (due to collateral damage) but also because of the possibility of destroying the planet. Nevertheless, deterrence worked and as of 2019 the only nation to employ such weapons is the United States. Further, might there be a necessary use of such weapons in the future as with changing the trajectory of a planet-killing asteroid? Hopefully the Pope will further explain himself in the days ahead. I have always personally reckoned with issues over nuclear weapons given their indiscriminate manner of causing death and violence. If deterrence is to work then the threat of using such weapons of mass destruction must be real. I see that as a problem, especially given the high yield of the modern arsenals. More than combatants are going to die. Countries uninvolved with the aggression would also have to deal with fallout, especially when retaliation begins. Maybe it is time to ask the world to wake up and mature about such weapons? A basic problem is that the major powers base the standing upon nuclear arsenals. Take those away and the playing field becomes more level. Many regard it as easier to push a button so as to kill millions of anonymous people than to kill one man in hand-to-hand combat. Similarly, those in bombers have to remember that the ants they see below are not ants but men, women and children. Peace!

  21. Fr Joe,
    My brother made mention of God during a brief conversation the other day. He is going through a separation that might head for divorce. He was married in the church but does not attend or bring the kids to mass. Additionally, during lunch he has admitted to adultery during the separation. I also failed to say the right thing then.

    I want to invite him to mass with me, but don’t know if he is aware of sacrilege (I wasn’t, until a few years ago). So if he were to come, he might go to communion. I don’t know what to do about this. Do I say, hey, come to church, but make sure you go to confession first?? I struggle with knowing the right thing to say and when to say it. If I invite him but say nothing about communion, is his sacrilege on me for not informing him?

    I know we cannot know the state of another person’s soul, but I don’t want to attempt to evangelize and end up promoting another mortal sin.

    Advice is appreciated. I don’t want to set myself up in judgement, but also don’t want to miss an opportunity to bring him back to the church since he did make that remark about God recently.

    I should mention that I’m an extreme introvert and this kind of thing is very difficult for me. I’m likely to bollox it up and end up making him mad.

    FATHER JOE: Urge him to go to confession and Mass with you.

  22. Fr Joe,
    I see that the Enchiridon on Indulgences was published in the late ’60s. Is there a more current version? I seem to remember that you stated that some previous indulgences were no longer approved (I don’t remember the exact wording you used, sorry).

    FATHER JOE: Indulgenced prayers are much reduced today although the older work is valuable for listing many beautiful prayers. A current explanation of indulgences today is THE MANUAL OF INDULGENCES from the USCCB (November 2006).

  23. Hi Fr Joe

    I was just reading proverbs and came across this Truth & Life App

    Proverbs 2:16-19

    16 You will be saved from the loose woman,from the adventuress with her smooth words,
    17 who forsakes the companion of her youthand forgets the covenant of her God;
    18 for her house sinks down to death,and her paths to the shades;
    19 none who go to her come back-nor do they regain the paths of life.

    So the last verse if we go to her would we not find the path back to life, even through confessions?

    FATHER JOE:

    The passage speaks of that which obstructs our search for wisdom, particularly deception from violent people. Next, a contrast to personified Wisdom is characterized as an alluring female. She is depicted as “a foreign woman” and unfit for marriage among them. While Wisdom leads us to truth and life, this Folly makes promises that she will not keep— lies where there should be truth and death instead of life. Within the marriage analogy, she is viewed as an adulteress. (Today, a priest would likely preach about this under the theme of fidelity to the Lord over the call of the secular world.)

    “From those who have left the straight paths to walk in the ways of darkness, Who delight in doing evil and celebrate perversity; Whose ways are crooked, whose paths are devious; Saving you from a stranger, from a foreign woman with her smooth words, One who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; For her path sinks down to death, and her footsteps lead to the shades. None who enter there come back, or gain the paths of life” (Proverbs 2:13-19).

  24. Father, what is the Church’s official stance on women working after marriage? Is it ok for a mother to continue her career if her children are in school and don’t need to be looked after all day? I’ve read several Catholic blogs that say women should not have jobs at all. If this is the church’s stance, does that mean it’s a sin for women to work unless it’s financially necessary? Also, does that they should not pursue higher education? If not, what should Catholic girls do before they are married?

    FATHER: While husbands and wives should be faithful to their vocations as fathers and mothers, there is no absolute Church prohibition about education and work outside the home.

  25. Fr Joe,
    Is it a sin to go out to eat on Sunday? I’ve also read that shopping on Sunday is a sin. We’ve gone out to eat on Sunday quite a lot, and opinions seem to vary all over the internet. I can’t imagine that a restaurant who had Sunday hours when they opened would be affected by my refusal to patronize them on Sunday. Being open on Sunday seems to be a permanent thing now for many businesses. But I don’t want to sin, so if it is, then I guess I will need to stop.

    FATHER JOE:

    I have responded to this question before.

    Look to the universal catechism:

    [2185] On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

    [CCC 2187] Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day. Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees.

    I would defer to Fr. William J. Byron, S.J. He writes: Your question raises the issue of what has traditionally been called “servile work.” Although Sunday is the first day of the week, not the seventh or “Sabbath,” the ancient practice of Sabbath rest has been carried over into the Catholic practice of refraining from ordinary weekday work on Sundays, i.e., reserving Sunday for rest, worship, and recreation. However, there is a lot of work for pay that simply has to be done on Sundays, and it is not at all sinful to do it. The planes, trains, and buses have to run on Sundays; the hospitals and restaurants have to be open to serve peoples’ needs. If employment obligations and economic circumstances permit you to rest on Sunday, you should, but neither should you worry if duty requires you to work.

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