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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!

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4,499 Responses

  1. Hello i got a question my mom had a stroke she taking dyalisis and she has her ups and down and since we cant see her they say she loosing weight she eats sometimes Dr. says she suffering to stop her treatments and she can die in about 3 weeks but nursing home says she eats and does good on some days but her body getting fragile what shell I do? I cant take her life she is 90 but know she will never be the same.

    FATHER JOE: Keep her as comfortable as possible. As long as possible, provide nutrition and hydration.

  2. Father I have told a lie to my friends that I am able to speak a language I cannot, and I have not corrected their presumptions that I am a virgin. I lied because I wanted to build myself up in their eyes. I have since confessed these sins, and want to know- is it enough to simply avoid ever talking on those lies again to them, or should I reveal the truth to them?
    Before I came to faith I engaged in lots of different degenerate sexual things and I worry – will I be unfit to ever marry or be a parent because of this? Can I be fixed or should I avoid being in romantic love with anyone in order to avoid temptation?

    FATHER JOE: Avoid telling future lies and know that some matters are no one else’s business. If you should meet someone that you would like to marry, that may be a person to open up to about your past. But there is no requirement to go into all the prurient details.

  3. Hello Father Joe,
    I enjoy learning and reading about history. I was recently given a book as a gift for my birthday. It’s one that I had found online, read the reviews and forwarded to family. Anyway, I just finished reading the book, which contains a very brief history of Norse mythology. I suspect that whoever wrote the book was an atheist, wasn’t knowledgeable about the Christian Faith, or both. It contains several errors especially in regards to Truth, the existence of God and the origins of Christianity. Other than these issues I found the subject matter interesting.
    Is keeping the book permissible even though it contains such errors? I don’t usually write reviews, but should I write one pointing out the author’s errors? And lastly, do you enjoy mythology and history? If so can you recommend some books that might be good and informative reads? Thank you Father Joe.

    FATHER JOE: Keep the book. As for myself I love history and literature. I have a small library of books that focus on fairy tales, folk stories, myths and legends. While fiction they speak to the human condition.

  4. Hello Father,
    I hope that you are doing well during these difficult times. I would like your opinion on something that is causing some pain for us. My wife and I practice our Catholic faith daily and are very involved in our parish. Due to ongoing health issues, I am at high risk for the virus. My wife is healthy. Our bishop gave dispensation to everyone for the Sunday obligation during the early portion of the pandemic. Once the state began to reopen and Masses were allowed for 50% capicity of the building, the dispensation was extended for high risk people only. At that point, my wife returned to Mass and I continued to watch on TV. Now our state has spiked with new cases and we are now setting records for new cases and hospitalizations. At the same time, while the bishop has strongly recommended the use of masks while in the church, about 1/3 of those in attendance are not wearing them. My wife has also witnessed a lack of distancing. Two weeks ago, I witnessed one of our Extraordinary Minister’s on TV touch her face 3 times than hand out Communion. They are also still placing a hand on the forehead and head to bless those that are unable to receive Communion. Given these issues, we no longer feel comfortable with her attending for fear of bringing it home. We are concerned that this will cause her to fall into sin. Our state is very independent minded, and we opened up too early in my opinion. We have also had poor adherence to safety protocols. Now while much of the country is improving our state is going the other direction. This behavior doesn’t seem to be limited to our parish. I did email our pastor, a holy man that I respect very much, and his response was to simply attend a weekday Mass where the attendance is low. There are only 2 weekday Masses that fall outside of my wife’s work requirements and neither would excuse her Sunday obligation. Needless to say, this has caused pain and concern, especially since we recently lost a friend to the virus.

    FATHER JOE: Say your prayers and do what you need to do to stay safe.

  5. Thank you Fr Joe for the valuable insights! God bless. Mae

  6. MAE

    My father passed a few months ago and I have been praying fervently for his soul.

    May I ask if purgatory means purification to body and soul? It must be painful as per the pictures depict?

    Also how would I know if my father’s soul is already freed from purgatory and is already in Heaven? Would it be through dreams?

    If I don’t know, should Mass stipends/ offerings continue throughout?

    I am asking your kind advice, please.

    FATHER JOE

    Please accept my deepest condolences on your father’s passing.

    The souls in purgatory have been separated from their bodies. The purification is a spiritual one. The poor souls have died in a state of grace but must suffer purgatory because of a tendency to sin or venial sin or temporal punishment due to sin. They are assured of their eternal salvation. They are on their way to heaven. This purification grants them the necessary holiness so as to enter into the joyous presence of God.

    While God might spiritually reveal that a soul has been freed from purgatory; for the most part, we cannot know and thus keep the deceased in prayer. If it should happen that the one for whom we pray and have the fruits of Masses applied is already in heaven then the graces attained would be granted some other poor soul who needs them and whom may have no one to pray for him. Our prayers and offerings might speed a soul to heaven; however, it is Christ that has saved the departed.

  7. EMMA

    I wondered if you could shed some light on marriage and blood covenants— pertaining to life after divorce. I find this a bit of a minefield to understand.

    FATHER JOE

    The Jews practiced blood covenants with the slaughter of an animal and the sprinkling of its blood. For instance, a contract or agreement sealed with the blood from a bull cut in half would signify that if either of the parties broke the promise then what was done to the bull should be done to him. Often this was given a social and spiritual dimension and not an actual execution for those who broke contracts. A person who was not as good as his word would be ostracized as untrustworthy. He would be treated as if he were dead.

    The only blood covenant of Christianity is the New Covenant in Christ’s body and blood. Marriage is not a blood covenant except in a sacramental association with the covenant of Christ. A couple might have a priest celebrate the oblation of a nuptial Mass but there is no visible or physical blood-letting of the parties getting married. The Church forbids divorce as a sin but this does not mean that both parties are always equally guilty. Our Lord comes down hard on the one abandoning his spouse. There is an association with divorce with the possible sin of adultery. The Church often assists divorced people with annulments but some grounds must be found that would have invalidated the marriage bond from the beginning. A true sacramental marriage bond between a man and woman cannot be annulled or even dissolved by the Pope. Divorce or no divorce, a couple truly married in the eyes of God will be held to their covenant by God until the death of one of the parties.

  8. Wondered if you could shed some light on marriage and blood covenants. Pertaining to life after divorce. Found this a bit of a mind field to understand.

  9. Hi Fr,
    My father passed in few months ago and I have been praying fervently for his soul.

    May I ask if purgatory means purification to body and soul? It must be painful as per the pictures depict?

    Also how would I know if my father’s soul is already freed from purgatory and is already in Heaven? Through dreams?

    If I won’t know, mass Stipends/ offerings should continue throughout?

    Your kind advice please.

  10. TO BRADY

    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.

  11. TO ROSE:

    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.

  12. TO JEFF:

    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.

  13. 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

    FATHER JOE:

    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.

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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. 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,
    Sarah

    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!

  20. 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!

  21. Father, I keep “pleasuring myself.” I hate that part of me. Like Paul says in Romans, “I don’t do the things I know are right, but I do the very thing I hate” (paraphrasing). I don’t know how to stop. I know God keeps forgiving me because the Holy Spirit convicts me every time I do it. But I can’t stop. I’ve prayed time and time again, but HE hasn’t completely taken it away. Granted I am not doing it as much as I used to, but why hasn’t HE taken it away? I pray for HIM to do so.

    01-13-21 FATHER JOE:

    God sometimes leaves thorns in the flesh so that we might not become too proud. It is also true that we are wounded and divided in ourselves. We are not in total control. We must be persistent in our prayers, repentance and mortification. Faith does not work like magic. As disciples of the Lord we invoke his mercy and grace to perfect us over time. We must also truly want to be healed. Too often there is a part of us resisting or saying no to God even as our lips say yes.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. Is restitution still required if the person who was hurt says you do not need to pay restitution? For example, at work I made a nick in the door by pushing a chair rack into it. I foresaw that small damage could be done before I pushed the chair rack into the door. I told my employer and he said I don’t have to worry about it, but I didn’t tell him that I could sort of foresee the damage being done. I just said that I was careless with the equipment.

    FATHER JOE:

    I think you may be a bit overly scrupulous. If you feel you owe something, restitution can also be directed to a worthy charity.

  25. Hi Father, I was hoping you could help me with questions about confession. My current dilemma is really troubling to me. I re-entered the Church about 4 months ago. I am now 31. I was baptized, received first communion, and attended CCD until about 12. I had never read the Bible in its entirety until now. I had gone to confession once as a small child. Once I re-entered the Church, I quickly went to confession to address the 15-20 years of sin I had separating me from God. I did some research, sat down and wrote out a pretty comprehensive list using 2 different Examinations of Conscience. I was honest and wrote down what I remembered. I was specific in the sin but did not give examples of situations. i.e. “fornication many times over 15 years” but didn’t give specific situations. I was specific in the sins that were prompted from the Examination. This confession was really to address my life up until I re-entered the Church. I went and confessed. However, two days later I remembered something else that I had before forgotten. I went to confession again with the new memories. I was told that sometimes memory fails and later we remember sins and realize how bad things; but, we should really rely on having a clean heart and trust the forgiveness already received for “all our sins.” This was a few months ago. The more I stay away from sin and embrace my new life my memory will pop up with a really shameful act from my time away from the Church. I remember specific situations from many years ago— things I had not remembered at those two confessions. I’m not sure if I need to confess them or rely on the forgiveness already given. I didn’t hold these back on purpose. Because of COVID my area does not have confession available so I tried an act of contrition. To my knowledge, the mortal sins still need to be confessed. I don’t know if the memories of sin are mortal but they are certainly shameful. I read that there are three conditions of a mortal sin. When I do research it just makes me feel as if every sin is mortal beyond a white lie or stealing $1. It’s hard for me to determine if they are mortal sins. I did them many years ago and without knowledge of the Bible but I did them with full consent.

    I guess my questions are:

    1. Do I need to re-confess the sins I remembered from that time period or rely on the forgiveness already given as I was told when I went the second time with new things I had remembered.

    2. As for specifications on mortal sin, I read many different things. Mostly the things I read trouble me because they say there is no loop hole. I just feel like I need to treat all sins as mortal if they are not a white lie, or stealing $1 or knocking someone down accidentally.

    Thank you Father, Erica

    01-13-21 FATHER JOE:

    Sins forgotten (even if remembered later) are absolved in confession and do not have to be brought up again.

    A mortal sin must be committed with sufficient deliberation (willful), you must know at the time it is a sin and it must be grievous matter. Most sins that people commit are venial, not mortal. There are a number of things that can mitigate even those wrongs that would otherwise be serious.

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