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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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4,257 Responses

  1. Hello, I want to go to confession soon but I’m afraid I would be confessing for things that I have not apologized to the people in my life over. Some of these things aren’t massive but will I be forgiven if due to my cowardice I haven’t offered all the apologies?

    FATHER JOE: Grave sinful acts should be brought to confession. Give no ground for embarrassment. If you have hurt others then making amends will be an element of your personal restitution.

  2. Is heaven better than earth if so why don’t we want to go?

    FATHER JOE: Speak for yourself. Many of us do want to go to heaven. It may be that the “we” you are speaking about are actually destined for some place else.

  3. Can you explain Luke 14:26?

    FATHER JOE:

    This verse comes in the context of a discourse on discipleship (Luke 14:25-33):

    Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them, “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

    Verse 26 here is not unlike Matthew 10:37. It is another instance of the Hebraic hyperbole that gives emphasis to our Lord’s message. It does not literally mean that we must despite or sow enmity with parents. Rather, it means that no one or nothing must be allowed to displace the Gospel. Our discipleship of Christ must be unwavering and absolute. This is the posture demanded of any who would take up the Cross to follow Jesus. Family responsibilities, which weighed very high for the Jews, take a secondary place behind Christian discipleship. This focus is given further elucidation in Luke 9:59-62: “And to another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, let me go first and bury my father.’ But he answered him, ‘Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ And another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.’ To him Jesus said, ‘No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.’”

  4. My husband got a new job that makes twice as much as he used to. He has had feelings for his boss since he started working there. He flirts with her and buys her gifts. He’s gambled/spent $10k in the last few months because he says he’s blinded by money and feels invincible. He came home and told me the other day that he was in a relationship with his boss and that he was planning to leave me and the children for her. When I talked to our parish priest he said that I need to consider civil divorce to protect myself and the children and to make sure they get the support they need. I talked to my husband about this and now he’s changed his story. He really did spend all the money, because it’s gone from our account, but he says he was lying to me about the relationship and leaving us, but that he does buy her expensive gifts. It’s all one sided- she does not respond to him. The “dates” he claimed they went on were actually work parties that he decided to pay for her meal. He said that he told me all those lies just to be mean to me. He says I have no right to divorce him anymore since he was lying about it. Maybe that’s true, but I feel so foolish having to go back to my priest and tell him everything we discussed in confession was based on a lie. His family has said that I should forgive him and just be thankful he isn’t actually leaving and to stick it out for the sake of the kids. I feel very confused. I’m not sure if he’s lying or telling the truth. I don’t know what to believe anymore.

    FATHER JOE: Insist that he join you in marital counseling. A man who lies about such things is likely still lying. Make an appointment with his boss and ask her about the situation. Let him know that you are doing this and that it is not behind his back. If it causes him embarrassment then that is too bad but he asked for it. You need the straight dope about what is going on. He should make full restitution as soon as possible for what he has stolen from the family. You may need a lawyer (as the priest said) to protect you and the children. If his boss is a person of integrity then she will return the gifts.

  5. I’m a sophomore in college and in my fall semester freshman year I joined a social fraternity. Since then I have been unsure about whether being a part of this organization is good or not. Every time I try and look it up I can’t seem to find out much about it and the information I find varies. I like my fraternity and I joined them because they respected my morals and did not make me drink or do anything that would violate my morals. As a brother I try to make sure the pledges know that they shouldn’t do anything that violates their values. I like the brotherhood we share and I think that the brothers really care about each other. For the most part I get what I wanted out of it. A group of friends have activities and invents to which I am invited. My problems come up with issues like drunkenness and some things that go on at our parties and mountain weekends. While there is definitely sometimes drunkenness at the same time it is probably the same as you would find among other students at college no matter whether they are in a fraternity or not. As for parties, there are those who come and do immoral things like taking girls home, drinking too much— you get the idea. At the same time, there are some people who just want to come and hang out. I personally usually make a fire in the backyard and people will gather round and we’ll talk and hang out. The dance floor is usually the worst. I sometimes overthink things so I am not sure what exactly to do. If God does not want me to be a part of such an organization then I don’t either; however, I don’t know what he wants. I feel that many of these problems are more representative of college culture than that of a fraternity. I feel that I have a positive influence on others. I do not feel that I’ve been influenced negatively; but, I do not want to be involved with the sin of giving scandal, either. I see the same immoral things happening with my non-fraternity friends, too. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: It sounds like you already have a pretty good grip upon the situation. Offer good witness, help your brothers and classmates and hit the books.

  6. Father Joe,

    In a divorce situation where the marriage has also been anulled, and per the divorce decree of alimony stopping with cohabitation of the other partner, what is the church’s standing on refusal to marry a long-term live-in partner in order to still receive alimony. The alimony would stop if the marriage were to take place. The ex wife and her boyfriend are both catholic and both avoiding marriage so they can still receive money from the ex-husband.

    FATHER JOE: It is morally reprehensible. Indeed, if cohabitation can be proven it is my understanding that many courts would see this as grounds to revoke alimony.

  7. Hello, I am very confused about something. So, I saw this girl’s testimony about heaven and hell. She said that she visited heaven and hell for 23hrs. When she visited hell she said that she saw Micheal Jackson ( I am a big fan of him) and she said he told her to tell his fans to stop listening to his music cause that could influence them to go to hell. And She said that he was there because he was a satanist. And I want to ask you if I continue to listen to his music and dance to his music will I go to hell? Can I continue listening to his songs and Is pop, rock, and RandB songs are sins to listen to?

    FATHER JOE: Michael Jackson might have been confused about many things but I cannot imagine that he was a satanist. Your friend’s testimony about visiting heaven and hell is not credible. Pray that she gets help.

  8. Dear Father, please respond to my previous question as soon as you can. We fear for the safety of our grandchild. Thank you and may God bless you and your ministry.

  9. Dear Fr. Joe,

    Thank you for answering my previous questions regarding Holy Water. I have a few more, regarding a related Subject: Blessing a Home.

    A couple years ago, a Priest told my wife in the Confessional that when a Lay Person blesses their home, it’s equally effective as when a Priest blesses their home. We’ll refer to him as Priest #1. Is Priest #1 partially (or completely) wrong?

    More recently, I brought up this subject with another Priest. We’ll refer to him as Priest #2. What follows are his responses:

    “When a Lay Person blesses their home, or an object, the Act is considered a Sacramental and has limited spiritual benefits. But, when an ordained Priest blesses a home or object, the Act has significantly more value on the ‘Holiness Scale’, because Jesus Himself, through His Priest, physically blesses the home or object. Jesus’ Blessing is more powerful than Sacramentals because He is the Third Person within the Holy Trinity. The Son of the Heavenly Father. God Himself. We receive the Graces of the Holy Spirit through Jesus’s Blessing, physically though his Minister (an ordained Catholic Priest) and also through the Sacraments His Priest administers. But, we can’t receive the Graces of the Holy Spirit through Sacramentals. A Priest personifies Jesus. Whatever a Priest says or does, Jesus is saying or doing. Whether an object was blessed by a Lay Person, or a Priest, it becomes holy, to a certain degree. When the Priest blesses a home or object, the home or object can’t become any holier. However, all holy objects, whether blessed by a Priest, or a Lay Person, retain their specific amount of holiness perpetually. Therefore they deserve respect and shouldn’t be thrown in the garbage.”

    Are the responses of Priest #2 theologically correct?

    Please feel free to add commentary of your own, regarding this subject.

    Thank you in advance!
    God Bless You!
    Happy New Year!
    Sincerely,
    Steven Byczek.

    FATHER JOE:

    It is true that a lay person (like the father of a home) can bless his home. Is it exactly the same as the blessing rendered by a priest? No, this is not necessarily so. There may be other operations or blessings within blessings. In certain cases, there is a need to have prayers of deliverance, especially if a home has been profaned by violence, obscenity and the occult. It should be noted that a home blessing should not be reduced to magic. Ultimately a home is consecrated to the Lord by the faith and virtuous life of its inhabitants. A blessing prayer and sprinkling with holy water will have little or no residual effect if the people in the house are living in sin, not practicing their faith and/or regularly introducing immoral elements into the house. Such would turn efforts at blessing and consecration into sacrilege.

    I suspect that you are misquoting the second priest. Priests are regarded as the guardians of the sacraments but laity and clergy alike are involved with sacramentals. The blessing of a home is a sacramental act. Sacramentals include the use of a crucifix and the holy water, as well as an image of the Sacred Heart and/or the Immaculate Heart (physical sacramentals). I have never heard of a so-called “holiness scale.” Sacraments and sacramentals make possible grace, although sacraments are instituted directly by Christ. All blessings from God make possible divine grace.

    The universal catechism speaks of a blessing of benediction as “a prayer invoking God’s power and care upon some person, place, thing or undertaking.”

    Lay people make blessings all the time as with the sign of the cross and grace before family meals. This is an expression of one’s faith and baptismal priesthood. There is a singular role give the father or the head of a household. Bishops, priests and deacons are given jurisdiction for ecclesial and sacramental blessings. Many cultures have children seek the blessings of elders and grandparents. All the blessings given by the laity are invocative (asking for a spiritual or temporal good). Such blessings express the goodness of things albeit without any change of condition. Clergy offer constitutive blessings that make holy or dedicate a person or thing to almighty God. Various blessings are dependent upon the given degree of holy orders. This is an expression of their apostolic authority as ordained ministers of the Church.

  10. Merry Christmas father. If you have time during this crazy holiday season , what are your thoughts on dreams involving battle with demonic presences and performing lay exorcisms, as I am not a priest but am engaged in these dream battles? These aren’t fleeting dreams they leave me feeling exhausted when I wake up . Is there spiritual significance or should I chalk it up to psychologically processing my subconscious through the lens of my religious beliefs? Thanks and I hope this doesn’t come across silly. God be with you during your his Christmas. Al

    FATHER JOE: I would urge not to be obsessed by such things. We have three priests in the Archdiocese of Washington who function as exorcists. While the work is necessary, I cannot imagine anyone who would be eager or excited about such dangerous work.

  11. Father Joe,

    I have a question regarding this answer you gave to Steve Byczek, who asked about Holy Water:

    ”However, even a mortal sin can be forgiven by a proper act of contrition before Mass so that a person might participate and receive. The Lord’s Prayer can in many circumstances suffice as such an act of contrition: “. . . and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” However, in such a case there must also be the intention to go to sacramental confession as soon as possible where the serious sin would be told to the priest.”

    My mortal sin that I keep confessing is that I fail to consistently practice natural family planning.

    There are times when I ask my husband to use condoms so I don’t get pregnant. I myself don’t take birth control pills.

    My husband is of a different faith than me, and I feel guilty asking him to practice natural family planning, or withholding sexual contact from him during my fertile times. I am ok abstaining from sex and prefer to do so when I’m fertile, but if he initiates it, sometimes I tell him no or ask him to use a condom. I don’t want to have sex during these times because I’d prefer to stay reconciled to God by practicing natural family planning, and being able to receive communion.

    So, I’ve been going through a cycle where I confess to using contraception. Then I try to just practice natural family planning, then I end up asking my husband to use protection, then I’m in mortal sin, and have to wait to get to confession to be able to receive communion.

    This is causing a lot of despair for me because I want to stay reconciled to God and receive communion as much as I can.

    If I’m understanding your response to Steve, would it be enough for me to say the Our Father before Mass if I’m in mortal sin, truly repentant, and intend to get to confession ASAP, so that I can receive communion?

    FATHER JOE:

    Natural Family Planning is inherently a collaborative effort. The issue of fertility and the meaning of the marital act should be shared by the partners. I can appreciate what you are trying to do, but has an effort been made to explain Catholic teaching to your husband and why this is important to you? A spouse sometimes compromises himself/herself for the demands of the beloved; however, it does indeed jeopardize one’s standing in the Church and before the Lord. How God will judge mitigating factors only God can say. If one is also using condoms then the whole meaning of NFP is distorted. NFP is permitted by the Church, not as just another form of contraception, but as a means for responsible parenthood. It is essentially self-knowledge so that a couple can space births in an ordered way in respects to the mother’s health and available resources. It is a way of living. Combining condom use with NFP suggests to me that despite wanting to stay in right relationship with God, you both may be struggling under a contraceptive mentality. The marital act that consummates and later renews a union in Christ must be that type of act that is “open” to the generation of new human life. Condomistic intercourse is a wholly different type of act from the marital act. The marital act by definition must be an act of vaginal intercourse without any recourse to contraception where the couple surrender themselves to each other. It is within this loving “human” act that every child has a right to be conceived. That is why the Church rejects IVF for those with fertility issues. The child is a gift and a person, not something to which we have an absolute right or which can purchase as a commodity. If the intention for NFP is contraceptive then it is wrong and a sin. While the possibility of a pregnancy is remote during infertile times, the marital act remains open to such life in fidelity to divine providence and the natural law. The use of condoms signifies non-openness to new human life. More than a barrier to semen, it is a wall between married partners. Instead of surrender and trust, the sexual act is turned inward. Generosity is supplanted by selfishness and distrust is sown. The donation of the husband is rejected and treated as an assault. Instead of two people loving each other in a manner that might make them a mother and father, the life-giving potential of this love is reduced to pleasure or lust (even if shared). The proper ends of marriage are lost and distorted: the door is closed to human life and even fidelity is cheapened or compromised.

    Using artificial contraception is a sin and it should be brought to confession. The late St. Pope John Paul II urged priests to exhibit compassion in confession and in the pastoral outreach to couples on this matter. Yes, it might be possible to make a good act of contrition with the intent to go to confession ASAP so that one might still take Holy Communion. However, this is permitted because it is sometimes difficult to find a confessor. If your schedule allows for regular confession then this is the path to follow. Most priests are very understanding of human weakness and the family dynamic. We do not like to pry and are respectful of marital intimacy. But good priests will emphasize the truth and urge an amendment of life. This may not happen immediately. This is where a true estimation of Pope Francis’ “accompaniment” comes in. We walk with sinners. God is not done with us yet. God’s mercy is always available for those who seek him.

  12. Hi Fr. Joe:
    Several weeks ago at the end of Mass during the announcements, the priest here in SoCal read a letter from our Bishop. The Bishop said that no longer are parishioners to extend their arms during the Lord’s Prayer. Only the priest and deacons were to do so.
    This message was read at all masses that day (I presume). The priest then said that as far as he was concerned parishioners could do what they want.

    The other local parish, where priests are Servites, no such announcement was made. People continué to extend their arms.

    My question is if the Bishop has “directed” everyone to abide by his procedure, why are not all parishes responding?

    FATHER JOE: I am not familiar as to what any bishops have recently said or written about raising arms or holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. I first saw it years ago with the emergence of the Charismatic Catholic community. However, only the bishops and priests are lawfully permitted to take the “Orans” position. Lay people were never officially permitted to do so. I can sympathize with the priest who said that people could do what they want and even with those that remain silent. The Church has fights on so many battlefields, why make one more? While I think we should all be obedient to the bishops, issues like receiving Holy Communion in a state of grace would be a far more important matter. Indeed, I would place a higher gravity on recovering those absent from the pews than to needlessly upset those few who still believe and worship with us on Sundays. Indeed, while I prefer communion on the tongue to in the hand, what is most essential is that congregants appreciate the Mass as the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary and the Eucharist as the real body and blood of the risen Christ.

  13. My question regards confirmation names. Are priests required to refer to confirmed Catholic patrons by their “confirmation names” only, or can clergy refer to those confirmed by their birth name.

    FATHER JOE: It is traditional to refer to candidates by the confirmation names. Given that the birth name is the same as the baptismal name, (which is taken from a saint), then the bishop or priest can refer to the candidate as such.

  14. May I receive Holy Eucharist at the Christmas Vigil Mass, Christmas Eve Mass AND Christmas Day Mass?

    FATHER JOE: These three Masses celebrate the same mystery or feast of Christmas. You are now generally allowed to receive Holy Communion twice at two different liturgies. I would suggest picking one Mass on Christmas Eve and receiving again on Christmas Day. However, your obligation is fulfilled with one Mass.

  15. Dear Fr. Joe,

    I have a Catholic publication that indicates Holy Water remits Venial Sins. Mind you, it was published in the Pre-Vatican II days. 1957, to be exact. It does have an attached Imprimatur.

    I recently asked my Pastor if Holy Water remits Venial Sin.

    His response:

    “Holy Water only remits Venial Sins, if the Lay Person goes to Confession shortly after they anointed themselves with the Water. Holy Water serves as a ‘Quick Fix’, before the Penitent has an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Confession. Other specific Acts remit Venial Sins including: Acts of Charity and praying the ‘Our Father.’”

    I have a few questions for you. Are there other Actions or Prayers a Lay Person can do and/or say privately to remit Venial Sins that my Pastor never mentioned? If the Lay Person fails to go to Confession shortly after doing one of these Acts, does that mean the Act won’t remit his/her Venial Sins, but still produces Spiritual Benefits in other areas? Or, do these Acts, without immediate Confession, produce no Spiritual Benefits whatsoever?

    Thank you in advance!

    God Bless You!

    Sincerely,

    Steven Byczek.

    FATHER JOE:

    It may be that your pastor did not fully understand the question you were asking or that you missed something in his reply. The use of holy water in sprinkling or in making the sign of the cross is a sacramental. Sacramentals can indeed remit venial sins, given a spirit of contrition or a desire for divine mercy. This disposition is important because without the element of faith, sacramentals like medals, scapulars, rosaries, holy water, sacred salt, etc. would have little meaning.

    A recording can repeat the words of the rosary but there is no value because a machine is not disposed to grace. The difference is when people say their prayers with genuine faith and devotion. I recall a Muslim girl wearing crucifix earrings. When I asked about them she said that she thought “they were pretty.” There was no value in faith because she had reduced the sign of our redemption to simply a piece of cheap jewelry. Similarly a sacramental should not be corrupted as a talisman or as an object for superstitious magic.

    Holy water is inherently a reminder of our baptism. Indeed, it is even used in the reaffirmation of our baptismal promises. Every time we cross ourselves with holy water, we recall who we are as Christians. It is through baptism that original sin is remitted (personal sins for adults) — we are incorporated into the Church and made adopted sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. Water and salt also serves a purpose in consecration and in exorcism. Note that it is a custom that we bless ourselves with water from the font when entering a church. Remembering our baptism, we acknowledge that we are sealed or marked with the saving Cross and we seek the forgiveness of venial sin so that we might worthily participate in the Eucharist.

    It should be said that the penitential rite at the beginning of the Mass is to assist the congregation in the laying aside of venial sins so as to participate at Mass in a worthy fashion. However, it should be noted that a person in venial sin is still in a state of grace. Venial sin is not exclusively forgiven by confession but by any number of prayers, novenas, devotions (like the Divine Mercy), ritual actions, etc. We confess them because that which is venial might become mortal. We also need the spiritual helps.

    I suspect the priest with whom you spoke thought you were speaking about mortal sin. A person in mortal sin should refrain from taking Holy Communion at Mass. However, even a mortal sin can be forgiven by a proper act of contrition before Mass so that a person might participate and receive. The Lord’s Prayer can in many circumstances suffice as such an act of contrition: “. . . and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” However, in such a case there must also be the intention to go to sacramental confession as soon as possible where the serious sin would be told to the priest. The penitent would then receive sacramental absolution. This provides not just forgiveness (sanctifying grace) but the actual graces to combat sin. We are absolved, not just as individuals, but as members of the larger Church “body.”

    There is no ecclesial requirement that we go to confession immediately after sprinkling holy water. Indeed, we are not even required to confess all venial sins. The Church would have us confess all mortal sins.

  16. Hello father, my name is John and I am struggling with understanding the severity of my sin. I am 14 years old. I was just looking for clarification on masturbation for teenagers. I looked at the catechism and multiple websites, and it seems to me that since I am going through puberty, and my hormones are unbalanced, masturbation would be a venial sin, not mortal. This is what I found in the catechism: To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability. Would me going through the hormonal changes in puberty be considered a psychological factor, therefore reducing my culpability? I know it’s not an excuse for sin, but if it does reduce my culpability, I wouldn’t be as harsh on myself as I am now. Thank you so much for helping me through this struggle. God bless,

    John

    FATHER JOE: Masturbation is a serious sin. But yes, the factors you mention can mitigate guilt.

  17. I for the majority of my life did not emphasize religion in my life but I have become much more spiritual in recent times. I am of Jewish descent and I am learning Hebrew to learn about my heritage (This is somewhat relevant). I have had dreams about many angels appearing to me in a bright white place. They do not say anything or convey anything that I could perceive/remember. Another night I awoke to very loud thunder in the night and I heard the words “Ve Gevurah” which means “The Power” in Hebrew. This is also a larger part of a prayer I recite daily that is a form of the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew. I would like to know what is really happening and how it is relevant to my life. I do not know the identities of my visitors but I have an intuitive feeling it has to do with the Archangel Raphael. Thank you for your time.

    FATHER JOE: There is no way for me to credibly evaluate a subjective experience of this sort.

  18. Fr Joe,
    In response to whether a pharmacist would know why a woman was taking an oral contraceptive:

    A woman taking them for heavy bleeding would take them daily in the same manner as a woman taking them for contraception. Oral contraceptives are not taken “as needed” for contraception.

    I will say, though, that if a pharmacist believes that the scores of women coming in to refill their pills every Sunday are taking them for heavy menstrual bleeding, they are kidding themselves. That particular health condition is not prevalent enough to cover the number of birth control prescriptions filled monthly in a retail pharmacy.

  19. Hello.
    I’m Kristofer.
    I wonder, is it possible to hit puberty in the afterlife?

    Thank You for your answer.

    FATHER JOE: I suspect we will be who we are meant to be upon the resurrection of the dead. There will be no marrying or giving in marriage. We may be eternally young but mature… no more sorrow, no more pain.

  20. My daughter is caring for her 3 year old grandchild. She doesn’t have legal custody. The child’s mother is very verbally abusive to child and is happy not to care for him, but she threatens to take him back if she is crossed. Now she has joined a satanic church. My daughter is afraid to have her over for Christmas celebrations because of this but is afraid of making her angry enough to take her son back into the evil environment (much satanic art in home). Which is more important? Refusing to let her daughter bring her evil into the family christmas, or placating her so she will leave child with his grandparents? This sounds made up but unfortunately it’s very real.

    I know this involves much that needs to be done, like lawyers and counselors. But we’re asking you about the moral and spiritual side. Is my daughter obliged to keep her daughter away from the rest of family at the risk of her daughter taking her child back for spite. I hope you can give us an answer as to what God would want my daughter to do. We have been praying for this granddaughter for a long while and continue to do so. Thank you and may God bless you.

    FATHER JOE:

    What complicates an answer to your question is that I do not know the name and teachings of the “satanic church” which your daughter’s daughter has joined. Wiccan religious communities might be labeled as such because they practice witchcraft and pursue a pre-Christian naturalistic faith. Others actually worship the devil directly in what is a theistic Satanism. Among these there are Gnostics who emphasize the serpent’s effort to bring humanity to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Another variation claims a reversal in values from Christianity, parading the deadly sins and embracing the negative stereotypes. While all are wrong and sinful, this is the most diabolical. There is also a non-theistic Satanism. This group is growing and is essentially a form of aggressive or militant atheism. They adopt satanic images and metaphors, especially to mock Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Do you know anything about the name, location and doctrines of her so-called church?

    What should you do? First, given that there will be religious symbols for Christmas and prayers at table; would your granddaughter even accept an invitation for a holiday gathering and meal? If so, is it okay with the rest of the family? Second, as much as you want to save the little boy, it would be wrong to subject the rest of the family to either the occult or gross irreverence. Would your granddaughter behave? In other words, would she keep her religious differences to herself so as to preserve a peaceful setting for the family? While she might not view it as fair, it would be wrong to omit Christ as he is literally the reason for the season. If she wants to come and if civility can be preserved then I would suggest inviting her to the family Christmas gathering. Let her know that you love her. Quietly take written notes of any verbal or potential physical abuse of the young child. If there should be any future conflict about custody of the child, the religion issue will not suffice as grounds for you. The courts would be more interested in matters like sources of support, not leaving the child alone for any appreciable time, and her language and actions toward the child. I hope you work it out.

  21. Father,

    Regarding the question you just answered from (Kelly) who is a Pharmacist in California, if I’m correct some women are prescribed oral contraceptives not as birth control but to help them with heavy menstrual bleeding. Under these circumstances I believe taking oral contraceptives would be licit for that woman. If that’s the case, couldn’t the Catholic Pharmacist take the same position as the Catholic priest does when dispensing Holy Communion? And that is, since a priest can’t read souls he gives Holy Communion to everyone (except hopefully not to “public” sinners such as Pro-abortion Catholic politicians). Likewise the Pharmacist would not know whether the woman that he or she is filling the contraceptive prescription for is using it for birth control or to regulate heavy bleeding, and as such it is OK for the Pharmacist to dispense oral contraceptives.

    FATHER JOE: The reason for taking a medication is often provided to a pharmacist. Those who use such prescriptions for heavy menstrual bleeding are likely on a regular schedule for taking the pills. The distribution here is licit. Those who would use it for contraceptive purposes would probably take the pill as a daily regimen although the abortifacient morning after pill would be taken “as needed.” Of course, no one should ever need to destroy a child. Not being a pharmacist, I am not very knowledgeable about the types of birth-control pills and which ones might serve alternative purposes and how dosage is affected. I read that maybe 14% take the pill for cycle regulation and/or to help control bleeding. Most take the pill to prevent pregnancies. Artificial contraceptives violate the Church’s understanding of family and the meaning of the marital act. The pharmacist would likely know why a person is taking oral contraceptives; however, he or she may not be absolutely certain. A number of pharmacists simply leave it to others to distribute contraceptives regardless as to whether there may be legitimate grounds or not. This situation to a priest with Holy Communion is not comparable. A priest would not utterly refrain from giving out the Eucharist. Further, the sacrament has a positive value as the risen Christ. While a few may have proper reasons for taking a drug also used for contraception, it always has a negative sign value.

  22. I am a Catholic pharmacist in California. My employer is requesting I complete training to become certified in prescribing oral contraceptives. I don’t plan on prescribing as it seems contrary to my Catholic beliefs. Is it a sin to complete the training if my employer requires me to do so in order to keep my job, as long as I don’t use that education to prescribe OC?

    FATHER JOE: they should be no issue with education and training. Just be alert that there will likely be pressure placed on you later for prescribing and distributing.

  23. I desperately need intercession, I am disabled and getting help from the government is proving incredible difficult. Proving to be almost impossible. I want to make a novena, but who is the best choice to help me? Someone mentioned Santa Muerta to me but I’ve heard she is not real.

    FATHER JOE: Devotion to Muerta is occult superstition and her worship is sinful. Say a Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help instead.

  24. In today’s Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Advent (Mt 11:2-11), John the Baptist asks, from prison, if Jesus is the Messiah. And yet, earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, John baptised Jesus and had recognised that Jesus was the Christ/Messiah then (Mt 3:13-17). How did John “forget” that Jesus is the Messiah? Did the circumstances of prison cause John to have second thoughts and to seek further clarification/understanding?

    FATHER JOE: John knew that his time was growing short. There were a number of false messiahs and the name Jesus (Joshua) was not uncommon. Although he was facing prison, he wanted to make sure that his followers approached the same person he baptized in the Jordan. Jesus’ words to them was confirmation. The disciples of John would become the disciples of Christ.

  25. Hi Fr. Joe. Since we celebrated Mary’s Immaculate Conception last week, I’ve been doing some thinking about it. How do we know that Mary was immaculately conceived? Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, but Mary was conceived through the human sexual relations of her mother Anne and her human father (sorry, I do not know his name)? How is that conception “Immaculate”? How was it different than any other woman and man coming together to conceive a child? How was it that Mary lived without sin? Would she have known that she was different than the people around her…..and do you think those around Mary recognized that she was unique? Was the way Mary came into this world (without original sin….and without living with sin) how we all would have been had it not been for the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden? It’s very hard to imagine (for both Jesus and Mary) of not ever falling into sin while being immersed in a full human experience. (Never saying a mean thing, never having a bad thought, etc). I know they faced temptation, but how was it that they avoided sin? Sorry so many questions, but thank you for answering.

    FATHER JOE: We trust the sacred tradition and the infallibility of the Holy Father on this doctrine. The angel at the annunciation refers to Mary as “full of grace” because there is no vacuum within her for evil. She is utterly imbued by the presence of her Son. Note also that when Mary visits Elizabeth that she exclaims that the Lord is her Savior. She does not say that he “will be.” Mary is preserved from any satin of sin because she will be the immaculate vessel through which God’s Son would enter the world. Jesus is a divine person and God cannot sin against himself. Mary (as the new Eve) is preserved from sin by the redemptive Cross of Christ reaching backward into history and touching Mary in the womb. The all-holy one would have to enter the world through a holy or immaculate vessel. Grace allows Mary to cooperate with Christ in his redemptive work.

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