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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Feel free to submit a new question or concern in the comment box below.  Various topics and questions are archived here for easy retrieval.  Please be courteous.  Comments are moderated so please be patient in waiting for them to appear and for any responses.  God bless you!





4,266 Responses

  1. Father,
    Were in the Bible does it say commiting suicide is a sin. I am not thinking of doing it now, but later in life when I set old and am in to much pain I’d like to know. If it is written it wont happen. Just asking
    I’ve heard ti takes an intelligent person to do so, so that would leave me out.
    Thank you Father,
    Jeff Mutch


    There is nothing particularly smart about suicide. It is usually a sign of desperation, more of the emotions than the mind.

    Many of the ancient Jewish commentaries and later the saints viewed suicide as a sin due to the commandment, “You shall not kill.” (Exodus 20:13). God as the author of life has dominion over it. Suicide usurps what belongs to the LORD. “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him.by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him.” There are a number of pertinent New Testament passages like 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that speak of the body as a temple belonging to the Lord. While we can find such passages, Catholicism does not interpret Sacred Scriptural in a strict proof-text manner. Often our understanding of revelation must take in both the contextual meaning in the Bible and the role of Sacred Tradition.

    It may be the gravity for this prohibition for Christians is found with the suicide of Judas. Jesus offered his disciples the gift of an abundant life. Judas betrayed the Lord and chose death (Matthew 27:3-10). All those who commit suicide are associated with him. When Paul was jailed in Philippi he intervenes to stop his guard from killing himself (Acts 16:27-28).

    When it comes to euthanasia and pain, the Church would permit the use of painkillers but direct killing is always regarded as immoral and sinful. Indeed, such suffering can be associated with the passion of Christ so that we might spiritually offer ourselves with Christ on Calvary to the heavenly Father. Our Lord tells us to take up our cross and follow him, not throw it down and give up.

  2. Sorry to hear about your brother. Best wishes for his recovery and for his family.

  3. I have blue cross medex they fund planned parenthood can I stay in this insurance.

    FATHER JOE: We are given few good choices about such matters in our world today. You need health insurance. Any involvement is indirect and remote. Priests even have Blue Cross.

  4. God Bless you, Fr Joe.
    Just after I sent my question, I saw your post about your youngest brother, John. I’m very sorry to hear about all you are going through. I will pray for him, for you, and for your family during this time. Please take gentle care of yourself. These are challenging days for sure. I work in a Catholic hospital in Massachusetts, and I have seen a great deal of human suffering and sadness these past months. But, I have faith and hope. It will all be ok, no matter what. God is always good.

    Peace, Sarah

  5. Dear Robert, if you received your other sacraments then going to confession would suffice. However, we would not recognize the validity of Holy Communion or confirmation in the Episcopal churches. In this situation, you would have to contact a Catholic parish so as to receive religious formation to take these sacraments. Peace!

  6. Dear Sarah, the situation has been overwhelming. I hope to continue but now with my younger brother sick on top of all the issues around the coronavirus pandemic, it has just been too much. I feel bad about neglecting the blog, but in truth I am increasingly finding many priests online who have a better ability to communicate and an abundance of energy, too. My parish is in Prince George’s County, MD which is ground zero in Maryland for the health crisis. Even before the disease hit, I was huffing and puffing and coughing from chronic asthma. Now I am trying how we can open the church, follow state guidelines and keep everyone safe. Peace!

  7. Hi Fr. Joe,
    I hope you are ok and staying safe through these times. I was curious to know if you’ve stopped your “Ask a Priest” ministry or if you are just taking a break for a while. I’m still receiving your homilies and reflections (thank you), but I haven’t seen any new questions and answers come through.

    God Bless,

    FATHER JOE: Dear Sarah, the situation has been overwhelming. I hope to continue but now with my younger brother sick on top of all the issues around the coronavirus pandemic, it has just been too much. I feel bad about neglecting the blog, but in truth I am increasingly finding many priests online who have a better ability to communicate and an abundance of energy, too. My parish is in Prince George’s County, MD which is ground zero in Maryland for the health crisis. Even before the disease hit, I was huffing and puffing and coughing from chronic asthma. Now I am trying how we can open the church, follow state guidelines and keep everyone safe. Peace!

  8. Father,I was baptised as a baby,however I was raised Episcopalian.I would like to return to my Catholic faith.what steps do I need to take?

    FATHER JOE: Dear Robert, if you received your other sacraments then going to confession would suffice. However, we would not recognize the validity of Holy Communion or confirmation in the Episcopal churches. In this situation, you would have to contact a Catholic parish so as to receive religious formation to take these sacraments. Peace!

  9. Is it a mortal sin to hang out with friends and come into close contact with them although parents and officials advise against it due to COVID?

    FATHER JOE: It may not be a mortal sin (unless you intend to sicken your friends and kill your parents). Left open is the question as to whether it is stupid.

  10. Do you think the world is coming to an end with the current riots and pandemic? Are these prophetic signs that Jesus is coming soon?

    FATHER JOE: I do not know. All I can say is that Jesus is coming.

  11. I have seen some places where they create dog monuments, to pay homage to certain “courageous” actions performed by dogs. My question is: Is there something problematic on giving homage to animals, according to Catholic teaching?

    FATHER JOE: There is no issue in praising heroic animals.

  12. Given the deserved nationwide concern about Coronavirus, I am surprised no one has asked about the issue of going to Mass with the congregations. What do you say?

    FATHER JOE: Be careful just as one would regarding the flu or colds.

  13. Can priests see people’s souls? Or have a general idea what is going on with that person’s soul just by looking at them?

    If a woman requests an appointment for spiritual counseling with a priest, do priests assume the woman is there to temp them or is stepping outside her marriage?

    FATHER JOE: There are some saintly priests who had the gift of reading souls but most confessors do not have this gift. If a person asks for spiritual direction, the presumption is that he or she wants assistance with prayer life and discipleship.

  14. Thank you Nick!

  15. Dear Jeff,

    I have been in a similar situation to you and so I felt I should reply to your question.

    Apart from being against the constant teaching of the Church, using contraception would be no guarantee that your wife would not get pregnant. As I’m sure you know, all forms of contraception have a failure rate (which can be found online). Using NFP actually has a lower failure rate than some forms of contraception (though it may be harder for you and your wife to use because of the irregularity of periods in pre-menopause and, perhaps, your wife’s condition). Even without NFP, your wife’s age makes her chance of getting pregnant less than 1% (i.e. as effective as any contraception in a younger woman). Again you can find this information online.

    Unless your wife opts for the surgery, the only 100% effective way of ensuring your wife doesn’t get pregnant is, as Fr. Joe said, the heroic option of complete abstinence. However, you may find that through prayerful consideration with your wife (and, perhaps, your priest and/or doctor) you decide that using NFP combined with your wife’s age will make the chances of her getting pregnant so low that it is worth taking the risk of continuing with your sexual relations. I’m sure it is all in God’s hands and he will guide you to make the right decision if you give it all to Him. May our Lady and St. Joseph intercede for you.

    I will pray for your situation.

    God bless,


  16. Thank you.

  17. Thank you Father. I should have been more specific. My wife has a benign fibroid tumer in her uterus. It is large but she does not have terrible symptoms. It would be problematic if she were to get pregnant. She is 50 years old and is hoping that in menopause she will see some reduction in the size as is common. So she has relied on prayer and natural things such as diet right now. Her doctor said there is no pressing need for sugery. Surgery would be a hystorectomy and that is a major surgery and it has some negative effects that come with it. This is the reason she has been postponing any surgical remedy. We do have a strong, loving and faith-filled marriage of 32 years. We have not been able to get good direction with this situation. I reach out to you because I respect your guidance.

    Thanks a bunch……Jeff

    FATHER JOE: I have two friends that had fibroids. One treated it with a surgical scraping to preserve fertility but they returned. One was post-menopause and the other was in the early transition where pregnancy was possible. Both ended up having hysterectomies. They can be quite painful and there is a danger from bleeding. Many couples in their brokenness use contraception and they bring this struggle to confession. However, I can only give you the message of the Church that deliberate contraception conflicts both with our understanding of natural law as well as with our appreciation of the sacrament of marriage. Most women enter menopause between 45 and 55 years of age. If the marital act is judged as too precarious for her wellbeing then the heroic option would be abstinence.

  18. I was raised Roman Catholic but converted to Judaism. My question is: is it possible to become a Catholic again?

    FATHER JOE: If you were baptized Roman Catholic then the Church still regards you as a Catholic, albeit one that has fallen away from practice. Any return to living as a Catholic would begin with meeting and confession with a priest. If there are elements of Judaism that you find attractive or if it is something that you can trace through your family line, then you might want to also join the Association of Hebrew Catholics (https://www.hebrewcatholic.net/).

  19. Fr. Joe,
    I need some help. My wife has a cantelope sized tumor in her uterrus and is dealing with it through prayer and natural means as to void major surgery. It would be a serious problem if she were to become pregnant right now. In this situation would the church say no to contraception? There are to many issues with this condition to make NFP a safe option. So the alternative would be abstenace.

    FATHER JOE: Unless the contraceptive drug is to control bleeding and pain then its use would be problematical. While I certainly value the power of prayer, the good Lord also gives us men and women with medical skills to help heal and to treat people. St. Luke who wrote one of the Gospels was a physician. I am dubious about natural means of treating such cancers. A tumor the size you suggest is incredibly serious and most women I know would seek out surgery even if it meant the loss of fertility. Her life is a higher value and so I would urge the both of you to further consult with medical professionals. I understand that perpetual abstinence would be difficult for a couple the loves each other and desires to share such intimacy. But again, I think the real question here is what must be done to save her life? I will keep the two of you in prayer.

  20. During the current Coronavirus situation, the pastor at mass said that we should not be shaking hands at the Sign of Peace. Along the same lines, if a person has symptoms of the flu or Coronavirus they should stay home and would be excused from mass. I totally understand.

    It was reported on CNN yesterday that two top infectious disease experts with ties to the federal government have advised people over 60 and those with underlying health problems to strongly consider avoiding activities that involve large crowds.

    I’m elderly, with underlying medical conditions causing a weakened immune system with a higher risk of being contagious. It’s not always possible to attend mass without others being seated very close.

    I’m trying my best not to catch this virus.

    FATHER JOE: Given what I read from my archdiocese and other dioceses, you would be dispensed during this health crisis. Say your prayers at home and mail in your contribution envelope.

  21. Hi, Father. When I was 16-18, I’ve done something for years that I’ve been constantly regretting and wishing i have never done. Between those years, I’ve been lusting and under the influence of pornography, it feels like I was a space to it. I knew almost everyday I was sinning against God but yet I continued on doing it for my pleasure. Today, I regret all I have done after I started going back to God. I really regret what I did and I’ve stopped being under its influence for a while now & it’s been such a difficult challenge but I pray to God to forgive me and give me strength to free me from sinning. I know that I have sinned so much and I do not deserve God’s forgiveness for all the constant sin and bad things I have done. I’ve been having intense anxiety knowing that God might be mad at me and that the constant sin I’ve done is unforgivable. I’m scared and it’s affecting my mental health because I’m afraid that I will one day go to Hell for the rest of my life just because of mg actions & hormones when I was 16-18. Will God forgive me and accept me besides the fact that I’ve done something against him over?

    FATHER JOE: You may be upset with yourself but God does not hold grudges. God loves you and wants you with him. He is always ready to forgive those who come to him with contrite hearts. Catholics are urged to go to confession and can take special assurance in the priest’s absolution. However, what makes it possible is an honest acknowledgment or confession of fault, true sorrow for sin (knowing that we have offended God and do not want to forsake being in his presence) and an amendment of life (seeking the best we are able and by God’s grace to avoid sin and to do that which is good and pleasing in the eyes of God).

  22. Hi Father!
    I am observing and teaching a little at a Catholic high school and the teacher whose classroom I am in was saying to the students in one class that it is only a sin to go to fortune tellers if you believe it, and that the fortune tellers are only sinning if they believe it. Later on in the day, we had the same class again in another period and I was sitting in the back and the teacher asked the class if they thought fortune telling was a sin and then she kind of put me on the spot and wanted me to tell the class that it was only a sin if you believe in that stuff, so I kinda just said that. But in my mind I disagreed because it’s a sin to go to fortune tellers and horoscopes even if you don’t believe in it right? I think I committed scandal and now I don’t know what to do. Am I obligated to correct the teacher and somehow tell the class on Monday that she was wrong? I’m not the one teaching that class yet so I’m not sure how that would work. I will start teaching that class soon though so should I bring up the subject of fortune telling (we are reading Dante’s Inferno) later on when I am teaching and correct my co-op teacher? Thank you for your help and advice. Oh also, after I said the thing about fortune telling, that teacher said she used to do ouijaa boards when she was young and that it wasn’t a big deal because that stuff is stupid/not real. And now I just hope the students don’t think that I agree with that because I don’t. I’m just not sure if I committed a mortal sin when I told the kids that fortune telling is only a sin when you belileve it (but again, the teacher kind of put me on the spot and wanted me to just tell the kids what she had taught in the previous class)


    The pastor should be notified. He is the person morally responsible for the proper religious formation of his parish children. The errant teacher is telling children it is okay to break the first commandment. This is grievously wrong.

    Quote the universal catechism:

    [CCC 2116] All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

    Both the Old and the New Testament forbid consulting with mediums or psychics or fortune-tellers. One can laugh about how silly and wrong are the predictions from fortune-cookies. You have paid money for a meal, not for the cookie. Similarly, one want might take some small amusement from the horoscope in a newspaper, especially given coincidences or how badly they regularly assess matters. You are buying the paper for news, not for the astrology section. But consulting a so-called psychic or fortune-teller directly is wholly different.

    The rationalization that it is okay for one who places no faith in it is a fallacy. Why would you pay good money to have someone lie to you? Is it not because on a certain level one is uncertain and has a desire for secret or forbidden knowledge? Teens and others who have played with Ouija boards have sometimes found themselves afflicted by demonic obsession or even possession. A fortune-teller or medium invokes hidden powers and spirits. You might think it is fun and games, but Christianity teaches us that the spiritual world is real. If you invoke something then something might respond by making itself present.

    Let me enumerate on a few of the reasons why such consultation is wrong:

    1. It is a violation of Sacred Scripture, Old and New Testament (see Revelation 21:8 and 2 Kings 21:6).

    2. It is condemned by sacred tradition and the teachings of the Church’s catechism.

    3. It is a poor testimony that conflicts with an actively realized faith and is condemned as false worship and a dishonor to almighty God.

    4. It is a negative witness toward superstition that may cause scandal and convince those who are dubious that it is permitted by the Church.

    5. Fortune-tellers are inherently involved with the occult. Sorcery or witchcraft is condemned for appealing, not to God, but to unseen forbidden spirits or powers. This can make one more susceptible to demonic oppression or even possession.

    Given so many concerns, why would anyone think it is ever okay?

  23. I am curious to know whether my mom coercing or forcing me into a medical procedure when I was already the age of majority is a sin. Several year ago, my mom and a physician’s assistant either coerced or forced me into having several skin biopsies and a skin excision done. This was because the physician’s assistant suspected pre-melanoma. I was already an adult, which means the medical decision was up to me. Although I wanted to avoid these procedures and suggested to see a different practitioner for a second opinion, my mom wanted the procedures done at the place she wanted and as soon as possible. What my mom and the physician’s assistant did was illegal.

    I have been suicidal since the surgeries, and the pain from the scars has been incredibly difficulty for me to live with. Over a year later, my mom and I saw a surgical oncologist who said that no moles at the time of our visit with him necessarily needed biopsies.

    Yesterday I saw a different physician’s assistant who offers a non-invasive skin biopsy technology called DermTech. He told me that my skin looked perfectly fine and that I did not need any biopsies at that visit. He has asked for past records at my former dermatology office. From my understanding, once he receives them, he will tell me any further findings about my past biopsies. Subjectively, he told me that from my office visit that my past skin procedures were likely unnecessary. However, these claims cannot be better verified until he looks over my past dermatology records. He said that pre-melanoma can often be misdiagnosed as a harmless form of dysplastic nevi. He shared that any dysplastic nevi he had seen on me were common for someone my age. If a medical professional were to find any suspicious moles, then I would try the non-invasive DermTech option.

    Was my mom’s breaking a medical law a sin considering I was forced to have the procedures when it was legally my choice to make? I wanted to seek any alternative treatments while she did not at the time. The medical coercion or force is connected to my suicidal thoughts. Diagnosing any skin cancer has been a very gray area for me. The physician’s assistant I saw yesterday told me in his own words that there can be negative positives and that the training for the lab technicians analyzing the biopsies can vary. What are your thoughts on this matter? Even though my mom said she did what she did was out of love, there were other was potential for other options. She just did not want to take the time.

    Although my mom now appreciates a new perspective with yesterday’s physician’s assistant, she said she would still rather undergo surgeries to prevent any chance of a potential cancer from evolving. I respect her decision for herself. As for myself, I would rather try the non-invasive DermTech tape biopsies to avoid any unnecessary scarring that could contribute to my suicidal ideation.


    You insist that your mother and a physician’s assistant forced you (as an adult) to have certain medical procedures and that what they did was illegal. I am not sure I follow. Are you saying they tied you up and did the skin biopsies against your will? If so, then you should have called the police. Are you incompetent and your mother is the legal guardian? I cannot make sense of this. If they did not employ force then you always could have said no and walked out.

    Your mother was not sinning by looking out for your welfare. If you were a minor then you were morally under her charge. But you say that you were the “age of majority”? You cannot fault your mother for your own passivity. I think you also probably wrong your mother for faulting her as the one culpable for your suicidal thoughts. Go see a therapist.

  24. Father Joe,
    I was listening to Fr Casey Cole on YouTube. He was talking about confession and said he has never heard anyone confess being troubled because they have too much money.

    My husband and I are well off. We are both pharmacists. I work part time. We give heavily to the church and other charities, but we have a decent sized savings account. We use it to pay for stuff for the house so we don’t have to pay interest on a loan, such as the new roof we just had installed. It was also there in case of a tornado or other disaster, or a medical disaster such as a stroke, cancer, etc. We weren’t hoarding money, at least not in my view.

    Is having such an account considered sinful?

    Also, we recently dug into it to pay for a professional interventionalist to get my brother to agree to go to rehab. I don’t begrudge it. However, he has now left rehab against advice and if we need these people again their services come at a rate of $1500/day plus travel expenses. This could quickly become a bottomless pit.

    Admittedly I have struggled with not worrying about it. I am in need of a hip replacement. My hours are about to be cut back at work. Neither of those things will make us destitute, but how am I to know when to say no for further expenses? Jesus wants us to give freely without asking for repayment, but am I to just keep handing out money?

    My sister is on unemployment. She hasn’t asked for any money, but when my parents, to whom she is $30K in debt die, who is going to help her? And I hate to say this, but I don’t want to be the next person expected to pick her up out of another hole. She is notorious for bad decisions and poor spending habits.

    God has blessed us with a good living. But we are both over 50 and need to be thinking about retirement, etc. We are going to need a new car soon. The heat pump is almost 10 years old.

    How far do we take this “give generously” and “the money in your vault belongs to the poor”? Do I have to give it all away in order to be just? Then if the house blows away or my husband has a stroke I rely on the government? I’m not being snarky, I really want to know. Because I am trying to turn my life to God, but some things just don’t sound very smart. However, I don’t want to “smart” my way into Hell. It is worth noting that this is not just MY money. It is my husband’s, too.

    Thank you for reading this super long mess, I hope you can make some sense out of it.

    FATHER JOE: I did not know who Fr. Cole was so I took a peek on YouTube… God bless him he looks like a young kid! Of course, it may simply be that I am getting older and the many new priests appear as boys. I am not sure how many confessions he has heard but I suspect that I have listened to more and that would include what many would regard as absurdities. I can remember the types of sins but I pretty much forget who told me what. Remaining abstract and vague is vital for preserving the seal. Having said all this, I can recall cases where penitents were concerned about their wealth and how that impacted upon their standing with Christ. I have even been asked, “How much is too much?” It is not my place to make such assessments, but there are many people of means who see their affluence as associated with singular social responsibilities. The cynical would argue that the rich have to be forced to give to charities by the use of tax incentives. This is often not the case. Many desire a comfortable and secure life and the ability to give their children a step up; but they also give and run various charity and social initiatives. They want to pass on the blessings that God has bestowed upon them. Instead of looking down upon the poor and disadvantaged, they desire to assist their brothers and sisters. This will not always mean a handout. It might be a grant to a school for students from low-income families. It might be in the medical insurance and benefits that they offer their employees. Frequently condemned and caricatured as misers, the broader picture is much more complex. There are wealthy or well-to-do people who do much as instruments of Christ in realizing something of the kingdom in this world. Similarly, while the poor are often generous seemingly beyond their means; there are others consumed with jealousy and greed for what others have. True charity does not promote dependence but rather encourages and enables people to take charge of their lives. This is a lesson missed by many critics. Jesus does not condemn those who have wealth and material things. He urges instead a poverty of spirit where we are not possessed by what we have and place our true treasure in the gifts of Christ’s kingdom. It sounds to me that you are already pretty much on the right track. God bless!

  25. I am a practicing Catholic and even spent 6 years in the Seminary before realizing I did not have a call to a Priestly Vocation. After leaving the Seminary I spent many years away from the Church and during this time got married to my non-practicing jewish wife in a Civil Ceremony. I love here dearly and have been married to her for 26 years. We never had any biological children and she has always been supportive of my Catholic beliefs. During the last couple years I have been regularly attending Mass and confession, My wife is now disabled and is in need of my care and support. I have had people tell me that our relationship is sinful as she is not Catholic and we were married in a civil ceremony and I struggle with comments made by people thinking that I should throw a 26 year relationship out the window. Though she has no desire to become Catholic or be married in a Catholic Wedding, I can’t bring myself to walk away at this point in our lives.


    You should not have to walk away from her. Given that there were no prior bonds, the civil marriage might be resolved by simple convalidation (repeating the vows with two witnesses) or with a radical sanation. A radical sanation is utilized when the non-Catholic party will not repeat the vows. The legal marriage is “healed at the root” and this retroactively makes the “legal” marriage “valid” from the start. (I have never been able to get my head around the latter, but I trust the Church on such matters.) Here is what the code of canon law (canon 1161) stipulates:

    §1. The radical sanation of an invalid marriage is its convalidation without the renewal of consent, which is granted by competent authority and entails the dispensation from an impediment, if there is one, and from canonical form, if it was not observed, and the retroactivity of canonical effects.

    §2. Convalidation occurs at the moment of the granting of the favor. Retroactively, however, it is understood to extend to the moment of the celebration of the marriage unless other provision is expressly made.

    §3. A radical sanation is not to be granted unless it is probable that the parties wish to persevere in conjugal life.

    Talk to your local priest about how to proceed. Peace!

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