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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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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!





4,489 Responses

  1. Fr. Joe:

    What is your take on the Life in the Spirit seminars that are tied to the Charismatic Movement? Especially the strong focus on speaking in toungues i.e. the prayer language as a sign of being “baptised in the Spirit”. I understood this as something well and good for personal prayer but it is only one, and of the least, of the spiritual gifts. I have been told it is a “gateway” gift and you just need to practide it. I personally can’t concieve practising a gift! I am not demeaning the seminars or the gift or the people involve, just trying to make sense of it for myself. Thanks for any insight.


    The Catholic appreciation of “baptism in the Spirit” must be distinguished from how Pentecostals view it. It must not be defined as an alternative or as something disconnected from the sacraments. Dr. Ralph Martin qualifies it as such: “It has been understood from the very first theological reflection, in 1969, that the term ‘baptism in the Spirit’ had its primary referent to the giving of the Spirit in the sacraments of Christian initiation, its usage in the New Testament, and that it was only being used analogously to describe the experience of those already validly baptized and confirmed Catholics. ‘If we were to be more precise we would not talk of receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, but of renewing the Baptism in the Spirit’” (A New Pentecost).

    While Protestant Pentecostalism might argue that one must speak in tongues as a sign of being saved; this is not the Catholic view. One’s standing before God cannot be judged on the basis of a lesser spiritual gift. There are a number of top notch Catholic minds in the Renewal Ministries; however, this does not mean that every member of the Charismatic Renewal or the Life in the Spirit speaks with the mind of the Church. Indeed, non-Catholic Pentecostals have been known to invade Catholic prayer groups in an effort to proselytize and subvert believers away from Catholicism. What is damnable is that they will then argue it is the will of the Holy Spirit. Private revelations and testimonies must be tested and there must be a true discernment of spirits. We invoke the Holy Spirit as both individuals and as persons joined to the Catholic Church, the faith community that was conceived by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and safeguarded until the consummation of the world. Those who have become temples of the Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation need to be set afire in this saving relationship and call to discipleship.

  2. Hello and Thank you for your time. My question is that I have a memory of when I was a little kid of selling my soul to the devil. I forgot this for a while and got this memory recently. I have since felt as if god was telling me that I could still be saved and have because of this learned a message of the deepest love and compassion. That all beings are saved by god no matter what and that everyone goes to heaven no matter what. I am curious what a priest would have to say on this matter. I do not think it would be very good of god, truth, and everything to allow a little kid that didn’t know any better to sell away their soul and receive eternal damnation. I do not think that any being for that matter should be allowed to ruin things for themselves eternally with no chance of salvation, healing, or change, and that no good god would allow this to happen. I read on research mixed things about selling your soul, some say that you can’t. While others say that if you do there is no salvation and that god can’t hear you repent. That’s not the god that I know. The god that I know is all knowing and all powerful and all knowing means that god knows the thing of me repenting, or god is indeed not all knowing. This seems contradictory and I wanted to know about this and the other things. Thanks!!!


    The theme of selling one’s soul to the devil is a popular one in film and in literature, as in “The Devil and Daniel Webster” by Stephen Vincent Benét or “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving. However, in truth the devil is a liar and cannot be trusted to keep his promises or to give anything that would suffice in measure the precious weight of a human soul. One cannot sell the soul as a child in the brief way you mention. While we often commend the innocence of children, in truth their genuine guilt is qualified by ignorance and youthful ignorance. The devil has no real contracts to be signed. If you committed blasphemy all you had to do as a remedy was to ask for forgiveness and healing. As long as we are alive in this world, hope is alive.

    If a person has reached the age of reason and knows (in truth and freedom) what he or she is doing, damnation comes not with devilish deals but with a lack of faith and disobedience toward God. The sin of idolatry and dishonoring God is a matter of mortal sin. Mortal sin brings death to the soul. Those who die in mortal sin will go to hell. It is a renunciation of the saving love of Christ. You cannot be saved while demanding damnation in hating God and rejecting the gift of eternal life. While there is life one can still repent of sin and beseech transformation (conversion) into the likeness of Christ.

    All of us were the devil’s property until the coming of Christ who redeemed us from our bondage. He does so by the fidelity of his mission. Jesus pays for our sins with the cost of his own life surrendered in his passion and saving Cross. About the saving value of Christ’s sacrifice you are right; however, you are wrong in any sentiment toward universalism, the heresy that all are necessarily saved. Such a view contradicts the teachings of Scripture and the reported visions of hell given the saints. It impugns or discredits the full value of divine justice. I suspect it is a most effective demonic deception whispered into the ears of those who are aware of their sins but do not want to acknowledge or to repent from them. All are redeemed (purchased at great price) but not all are saved. God does not call us to be passive spectators of his justice and mercy but rather to actively cooperate with his grace. It might be likened to a cage. Redemption breaks the lock and opens the door. But you still have to leave the cage. Our lack of faith and personal sins can return us to bondage.

  3. Why would the priest even think of refusing this boy? (No criticism meant, just looking for an explanation).


    FATHER JOE: As the pastor of a parish with Special Needs catechists and a program (PGCR) for adults and older teens with special needs, I can appreciate the desire for inclusion. I cannot speak for New Jersey, but the Archdiocese of Washington is very proactive at working with children and families in such situations. We should not jump to conclusions, it may be that the pastor only wanted to extend the time-table for religious formation. But we should always be acutely sensitive and willing to help those with intellectual and/or physical challenges.

  4. Hello Father,
    I work for a catering company and I worked this Friday and am probably working the next couple of Fridays. Tonight, I had to bring hor’s deourves around to people. Some of these appetizers had meat. One couple even took some meat, then said “Oh wait it’s meat” but then ate it anyway even though I think they were Catholic. Is it a sin for me to serve meat to people or offer meat to people on Fridays during Lent? Do you have any advice? Thank you for your help.

    FATHER JOE: The responsibility rests with the clients and their guests.

  5. Dear Father Joe, Hi, I have a short question. Is it a mortal sin to eat meat on Friday during lent? Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: If you are a Catholic and are in the right age range and you deliberately do it while knowing it is forbidden (not by accident) then YES it is objectively a mortal sin. Yes, I must admit it seems a stupid thing to go to hell for doing but it takes all kinds. Small things can convey larger truths, particularly about our respect of the Church and our resolve to obey God.

  6. Hi Padre. I am 57 and recently divorced after 21 years, she left for someone else. But sometimes when I cant sleep I masturbate which puts me to sleep. Is this a mortal sin?

    FATHER JOE: While there can be mitigating factors, masturbation is objectively a grievous or mortal sin. I would suggest reading or listening to soothing music.

  7. I’m a camera assistant on movie sets. There is a short film being done based on the 7 deadly sins.
    Would it be immoral to work on set during a suggestive sex scene? It will be tastefully abstract, not explicit.

    FATHER JOE: I cannot say for sure. I do not know enough about the film and its desired audience. Suggestive sex scenes are likely immoral or wrong.

  8. Fr Joe

    I am Catholic and would like to marry. However if so some reason I can not marry in a church. What can I do to make sure I see heaven or will that just not be able ?

    FATHER JOE: The question makes no sense. Get married in the Church.

  9. Fr Joe

    Children of a annulled marriage are considered legitimate ? However is it right to ask someone with child to get a annulment?

    FATHER JOE: This is another question that makes no sense. The legal standing of children under civil law is a different question from the standing of a marriage under Church law.

  10. Father Joe,
    I am scheduled to work Easter Sunday. I will miss all the masses. I have put out a request for a trade but so far no takers. My boss has volunteered to work from open until I get out of mass, which is great, but he is at least nominally catholic, too. I even said, well, that means you would miss mass, too, and he shrugged.

    I could go to the vigil mass, which would leave me up until after midnight on a day when I have to het up at 5am. I’m a pharmacist and am concerned about being alert.

    I am NOT looking for excuses. I really want to go to mass, and will do the vigil if that is my only option. But I wanted your opinion on taking my boss up on his offer. I am afraid it would be akin to actively preventing him from going to mass.

    I don’t know he’d be going anyway, (he is divorced and may be away from the church for all I know), but I feel dicey about it.

    May I have your thoughts on the matter?

    FATHER JOE: When it comes to certain professions like that of pharmacist, God understands. One suggestion might be to look around for a church that has Masses at a time that might work. For instance, around me we have a number of parishes with late Sunday Masses in the afternoon or evening. Peace!

  11. Hello, Father!
    Is secretly reading my wifes’ diary a sin? If so, what kind of sin is that – how does it qualify and how should I confess it?

    FATHER JOE: It is a violation of trust with someone you are supposed to love. Yes it is a sin and likely requires the forgiveness of your wife and almighty God.

  12. As we offer Mass Intensions to the souls we pray for in purgatory, The Mass Should be enough to deliver a soul in purgatory into Heaven. How come do we continually offer Mass intentions for the same person over and over? Is it not similar to confession? If we are truly sorry and do fulfill a penance for our sins, we don’t repeat the confession? Same as the order of demonic presence in a home? The “final” order in spiritual warfare is having the Mass in the home correct. It doesn’t have to be repeated from what I understand.
    In short, I’m asking what the proper form and order like for a Mass Of intension?


    First, the priest can apply the fruits of the Mass that come to him for a requested intention, as for the deceased. Second, we can also apply the fruits that come to us as participants in the liturgy. We are essentially beseeching God to apply the graces that come from the Mass to the deceased who is remembered. This is to mitigate their time of purification in purgatory. While the Mass as a re-presentation of the oblation of Calvary perfectly atones for sin; the benefit derived is affected by a faith and charity in us that has yet to be perfected. We sometimes speak about this as the disposition of the soul. Mass is offered again and again because as sinners in time we cannot make full avail of the graces. We cannot fully give ourselves with Christ to the Father. Similarly, the souls in purgatory are at various stages of purification or holiness. Some are ready to be sped to the beatific vision of heaven. Others love the Lord but because of a habit of sin or venial sin or temporal punishment due to sin may need a deeper purification than others. One soul may not be as disposed to grace as another. Imagine a bucket. It might be able to hold water but because of holes it leaks. The souls of the dead are vessels turned towards the Lord, but they cannot yet contain the fullness of grace that will bring them into heaven. But the bucket is turning. The holes are being filled in. Again, what I am trying to say is that while grace might be bountiful, the soul may not yet be disposed to make full benefit of it. Hence, we offer multiple Masses.

    As for the demonic in a home, you are in error that it cannot return. The residents can wrongly invite Satan into their homes by failing to be the Christians they are supposed to be. As with house blessings, a priest can sprinkle holy water, offer benedictions and consecrate a home to the Sacred Heart; however, what will maintain the blessing is the faith and discipleship of those who live there. If Christ lives in your home then the devil will want no part of it. But if there are occult practices, an irreligious atmosphere and/or elements like sexual immorality, cursing, abuse, etc. then the demonic will be very happy to infest your abode.

  13. Father, what should I do if I strongly suspect my 2 teenage daughters don’t believe in Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist? Should I tell them not to receive communion? Should I still take them to mass with me?


    First thing to do is to sit down and talk with them. As teenagers, the choice to receive or not is theirs, although I am of the opinion that as long as they remain under your roof you can compel them to attend Mass. SEcond, share your faith with them and why you believe in the real presence.





  14. What is your position on the gift of toungues, especially with the emphasis of it beig the earmark of beiNG “baptized in the spirit” within the charismatic movement. I have always seen it as a gift for personal use. I have never understood it as a prerequisite for spiritual gifts.
    Thanks for you input!

    FATHER JOE: Unlike the belief of Protestant Pentecostals, it is not a definitive sign of being among the saved elect or of being in a perfect relationship with God. I have always thought that Catholic charismatic members put too much in store with it. It is a lesser gift. Having said this there is a communitarian element to it that goes beyond the personal. It has long been an element that draws charismatics together. It is also associated with prophecy to which others are purportedly given the gift of interpretation. I find some of this too subjective for my tastes. I must admit that while I am a person of faith and I believe all baptized believers are by definition charismatic or Spirit-filled; when it comes to lesser gifts my credulity is seriously strained.

  15. Fr Joe,
    Honestly, I fail to see how anyone could be a saint. It is so hard to be really good. I just made what I thought was a really good confession last night and was buoyant until just now, barely 12 hours later. I’m at work, alone and trying to get work done, and a delivery guy comes with the drug order and I was annoyed with the interruption. I wasn’t rude to him, but did harbor some thoughts along the line of “I’m doing something important here, I hope he can see that” kind of prideful nonsense. I’m annoyed at myself and disappointed. Plus, I don’t know if this is a mortal sin since I was prideful and irritated in my heart. Do I need to go to confession again before Sunday?

    FATHER JOE: I suspect that it is venial or not a sin at all.

  16. Where is the absolute proof of the existence of a god or many gods
    And please don’t tell me that it is in the bible so it is true.

    FATHER JOE: Forget proofs. Let us just presume that there is no higher power or God who creates and sustains all things. But nothing comes from nothing. So I guess there is no one to ask the question and no one to answer it. You must be nothingless imagining that you are something and talking to yourself. Poof! (I was never here.)

  17. Fr. Joe,
    Can you please clarify this for me. I was under the impression that when one dies there is a particular judgment of the soul and it goes to heaven or to purgatory for where ever. At the second coming, the general judgment, that is when souls on Earth go to heaven or hell, souls in purgatory go to heaven and souls are united with their glorified bodies.

    FATHER JOE: Yes, that is pretty much it except that some souls go to hell and that judgment is confirmed at the last judgment.

  18. Hello Father,

    My wife and I are happily married for over 15 years and have 5 children from 2.5 to 12.5 years and have decided that we are happy with 5 kids and do not want anymore. My wife is now 40 years old and we also feel too risky to continue since we have also had 4 miscarriages.

    We practice NFP as best we can and are open to life if ends up resulting in pregnancy but during her fertile time we are drawn to each other and tend to arouse each other. Most of the time we work each other up but do not climax. However recently we have been engaging in intercourse after stimulation but I am able to withhold myself from orgasm while she does. I do this by choice and of course a lot of focus.

    Without getting too detailed I am curious if this is permissible or not? Most of what I have found online speaks of “coitus resurvatus” which I am finding mixed opinions on.

    Can you please help clarify for me so that we can determine if this is allowable or not so that we can make sure to not lead each other into any sort of occasion or actual sin?

    Thank you.


    I have heard of “coitus resurvatus” but have rarely heard of it practiced. Such intimacy might be technically permitted by the Church but it is fraught with obstacles. The mechanics of the sex act are not clearly under volitional dominion. You can start something that you cannot stop or the stopping can cause a frustration that makes the relationship tenuous or difficult. Priests who are Catholic moralists look at such matters in a theoretical way that does not always take into consideration the brokenness and messiness of the human condition. We should never underestimate the power of passion. You must know what I am talking about. You love your wife. You are drawn to the marital act with her. You both as persons enjoy the physical union and the self-donation to each other. While passion is not the same as lust, it can be just as powerful in how it takes control. You want to finish what you start. If you stop there is a good chance that the man will know an ejaculation anyway. It can get out of control. Only you and your wife can know if “coitus reservatus” is something you can do. I suspect that many could not. The Church’s permission for such intimacy is qualified. You must NOT intend orgasm for either of you. It is my understanding that if either the husband or wife reaches orgasm then the other spouse should be stimulated so as to climax and complete the marital act.

  19. Dear Fr. Joe,

    Thank you so much for your online ministry, I am sure that you are well aware of your large and growing readers around the globe.

    Many like myself, who have followed your blog for many years, are keen to “listen-in” to your weekly sermons. Would this be possible? Perhaps through YouTube, or a social media platform?

    However I would not want it to be an additional burden on your already hectic schedule. Please let me know how I can help make this happen.


  20. Hi Father. I know someone who informed me that she witnessed a desacration of the Holy Eucharist. I personally would have reported it if I witnessed it, but the person who saw it might not want to report it although she said she had lectured those that have done it that it’s disrespectful to our Lord. I do think that she did the best that she could on that situation but she doesn’t know that it was supposed to be reported. Am I under obligation to report the event?

    FATHER JOE: The person should talk to the priest, not you. I cannot say more because the desecration is left unnamed and may be real or just presumed.

  21. Hi Fr. Joe, I was raised Catholic, but my whole extended family did not really practice. We were wishy washy in our practice of our faith and devotion to God. My parents have had some bitterness against the Church due to some experiences as kids. They did sent us to CCD, and we got Confirmed. However, we only went to Church only on Christmas, Easter, and the rare random Sunday, and we never prayed together as a family.

    Since childhood, I’ve always been very aware of God’s presence around me. It seemed that I was alone in this in my family. By God’s grace, I had encounters in college that lead me to practice my Catholic faith fully. My faith is extremely important to me now, and I”m so thankful to God for all the gifts that have allowed me to love and serve him. Because of God and my faith, I know great joy even amid tremendous struggle and difficulty. I feel so blessed to be Catholic. Truly.

    I continue to be the only practicing Catholic in my extended family. Even my college aged/ grown kids do not attend Church regularly. I struggle to find the courage to evangelize in my own family. And, I wonder if this will have an impact on my own salvation. What comes to mind is Luke, “To whom much is given, much will be expected”. I can’t explain why I have this gift of faith, especially considering my upbringing. I feel as though it has been a blessing from God. Sometimes I wonder if God gave it to me so that I could be the one to share it with those I love. But, I am failing greatly in this. I struggle to know how, I’m hesitant and unsure of myself. I am already judged at times (even though my family does love me). How culpable are we when it comes to saving souls? I fear I will stand before God and he will say, “With all the gift I blessed you with, why didn’t you do more?”. And, I will not have an answer. This has me concerned.

    Thank you Fr. Joe

    FATHER JOE: The main obligation for the everyday Catholic is to witness by his or her life the practice of our faith. It seems to me that you are doing this. Yes, it is a mystery why children, even from devout and faithful homes, should so often fall away. I suspect it has to do with peers and the counter-formation that is experienced in the society around us. Continue to pray and worship while remaining true to our values and the call to charity. Pray that family members will be given the gifts of contrition and renewed faith. Peace!

  22. Hello Father
    Today I got really angry as I was trying to fix the beads of my rosary when It didn’t work out I teared the rosary apart and spitted on the Holy Cross. This is not my first time, another time I was angry and I spitted on a holy book. I’m feeling so much sorrow in my heart right now I feel sad and angry at myself. The Lord is the only one I have left and now I may have lost him. I’m very ashamed of myself I cried and I couldn’t sleep. I feel like a cruel person.

    My question is what can I do to repent? Do I have to make penance? And how?

    FATHER JOE: Your response to frustration over a broken rosary is inordinate to the point of being clinical. More than repentance, you need to discuss anger issues with a professional counselor.

  23. Sorry for my English, I am a 18 years old Brazillian.

    My parents got married two days ago in the Church. They have been married in civil since many years ago, but they received the matrimony sacrament without Confession. In other words, perhaps in state of sin. Now, they want to prepare to receive the First Communion, certainly attending catechesis classes in the parish. I had the opportunity to ask the priest in the marriage day, few minutes before the celebration begins, if state of grace is needed to get married, but I didn’t. I also thought that I could interrupt the celebration to talk about the issue, but I didn’t.

    Did I sin by omission? Mortally? I also would like prayers, maybe one to regret what I did.

    FATHER JOE: What you post is between your parents and their priest.

  24. Fr. Joe:
    While visiting a home bound parishioner today, as an extraordinary minister, I read today’s Gospel. It says they “Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord….”. The parishioner said “how can that be since the baby Jesus was the Lord”. I wasn’t sure of the proper response.

    They would not have recognized the Trinity at that time with their son as the Second Person of the Trinity. Or did they? What is the proper explanation?

    FATHER JOE: He is presented to God the Father as Jewish law dictated.

  25. Hi Father, I’m divorced and remarried. I’ve had a catholic education from grammar school through college. From what I remember, once you’re divorced and remarry, you no longer can receive communion. Not sure about the other sacraments. Please advise. When I do go to church, I usually pass on receiving communion.

    FATHER JOE: Yes, you are correct. You should go to Sunday Mass but pass on receiving Holy Communion. I would urge you to see a priest about a possible annulment. That way, there might be a convalidation of the current bond.

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