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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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4,674 Responses

  1. Dear Father

    A suicide occurred in a family member’s house. What can/should be done to thoroughly spiritually cleanse and bless the house/property?

    FATHER JOE: A priest may bless the home. Those who live there, if believers, might pray for the soul of the departed and sprinkle holy water.

  2. Hello Father,

    I want to ask for your thoughts about the law of attraction. I often come across this and even tried it myself as well, but something just didn’t sit right with my spirit, so I stopped. The reason why I stopped is that I feel wrong about the fact that you manifest your desired life, while only God can speak things into existence. I asked God for forgiveness and the words that popped up in my head were: ”you are forgiven.” If it would be okay, there wasn’t a need for Him to forgive me, right? So that’s why I think it was right to stop. However, I see mixed feelings and opinions among fellow Christians about this topic. What is your opinion?

    Thanks a lot for your time and energy.
    Demi.

    FATHER JOE:

    I was a fan of the late Rev. Robert H. Schuller who espoused the power of positive thinking. However, I would interpret such in terms of fervency of faith and devotion to divine providence. As often defined, the so-called law of attraction is problematical as it overly focuses upon self and the delusion of being in control. It fails to properly acknowledge our ultimate dependence upon God and acceptance of his will. There is no karma, no fate and no quasi-science that can substantiate the proposed law. It smacks of new age religion or superstition. A basic premise of Christianity is that only God can save us— we cannot save ourselves. God keeps us in creation and is the source of all good. Positive thinking does not change reality. Rather, we affirm reality and trust God in a positive way. What God makes is good and it is this good God that wants us to know and share this goodness. Subscribing to the so-called law of attraction tends to be narcissistic and exclusionary of the needs and wants of others. There is no impersonal force that we might invoke or make wishes upon as in magic. You cannot compel the universe to do anything. However, you can make intercession to God and then make Christ’s prayer of acceptance your own— “not my will, but Thy will be done.”

    There are plenty of people who try to bend reality to their desires by imagining themselves as rich and powerful; many of them remain poor and weak. Indeed, as much as we might want to live; we will still all die. Hard work may be rewarded but the plans of men often do not pan out. Christianity would have us look outside ourselves to God and to the needs of the neighbor.

    The law of attraction and new age religion has found adoption by a number of celebrities, and in many aspects, shares elements with the prosperity gospel. However, such thinking condemns the poor as either damned by God and/or as bringing pain and poverty upon themselves due to a lack of positive thinking and willing. The heresy fits well into the American mythos of a privatized faith where one’s destiny is entirely what one makes of it. Many of the self-help gurus are the prophets for such belief. Ultimately, this heresy would have us seek to usurp the authority of God. It is precisely the temptation of Satan in the primordial garden. Trying to control the world and others through force of will is literally magic or the sin of sorcery.

  3. Hi,

    Last week these impure thoughts of another man just seemed to consume me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Almost as if I was being attacked. I was wondering can I confess to just having impure thoughts or do I need to say that the thoughts were of another man? I have never been with someone of the same sex.

    Thank you for your help

    FATHER JOE: The priest does not need a lot of details. Especially if fleeting, it is likely sufficient just to confess impure thoughts. However, if you were seeking spiritual counsel beyond the sacrament, more details might be helpful so as to get the proper advice or insights.
    Fred.

  4. I had a oppression on April 4 yesterday at 3am for abt 5mins the evil demon taken control of me then he took my to the rest room then dropped me my girl friend said dont the bible say demons run away once they see Jesus I dont remember anything I had a knot on my head I could see for a abt 10secs and my girl friend said before I collapsed my eyes tunred white

    FATHER JOE: If true you need to see a priest, not just ask advice from someone on the internet. You may also need psychological counseling. I wish you well.

  5. Is it okay to disobey parents if they’re being unreasonable?

    I should mention that I’m (almost) 22 years old and still living at home. I apologize for the frustration that might come from this post, I’m just feeling fed up with my parents right now.

    I’ve been going back and forth on this certain thing. I love my parents, and want to respect, be honest and obey their rules as long as I’m living under this household. However, there’s something that they’re not permitting me to do, and I think they’re being incredibly unreasonable.

    Some FYI – I haven’t hung out with anyone outside of this family within 6 feet / without masks for over a year now. I don’t go to restaurants. I never take my mask off indoors. I’m not even allowed to receive the Holy Sacrament of Communion, so I haven’t had this sacrament in over a year now. I’ve respected all their unreasonable rules.

    So, I have a boyfriend now, and I would like to hang out with him without masks and within 6 feet of each other. I’ve argued with my dad on this so many times, and he says we’re not going to “gamble the lives of this household” (my mother is more high risk than others). The thing is, my boyfriend’s parents are vaccinated, and he barely goes out because of COVID. He lives an hour and a half away from me in a town with 37 active cases. Last night, my dad said “go ahead – do what you want and kill us. I’m not having this discussion with you anymore.” I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to disobey him or lie to him but I’m so, so fed up with the fear mongering and guilt tripping. I suggested moving out, but my parents say I’d be immature to do that, and our “relationship would strain” because it’s me basically saying “I don’t want to see them until COVID is over”. It’s like I can’t win in any scenario.

    Would it be sinful to go ahead and hang out with my boyfriend in a closer proximity, and just lie about it? Are my parents even being unreasonable, and am I just being selfish and immature? My friends – also Catholic – think they are being unreasonable. What do I do?

    FATHER JOE: This is a tough question because your parents are afraid. I can appreciate this. I have close family members that I have not seen face-to-face in over a year, not just for my sake as one at risk but to protect congregants from anything I might contract. The vaccination is a step forward but there are no guarantees. Even if remote, it is possible that association with your boyfriend could result in COVID-19 transmission. If financially feasible, it might be time to get your own place. While it seems unreasonable, your parents have say over their home which you share as an adult.

  6. My husband and I were married almost 38 years. It was his second marriage of which he was divorced from his first wife after being married by a judge and later in the Catholic Church. Later after divorce, she passed away from illness. It was my third marriage, one by a preacher in his home and later divorced. The second in a church and divorced after almost 10 years. Seven years after divorcing of third marriage my ex husband passed away. He was Catholic, I am not. He was cremated and ashes buried in community cemetery between his parents. Even though we were divorced, can I be cremated and my ashes buried next to him or in same burial container for ashes?

    FATHER JOE: There is no absolute church prohibition about this— much depends as to who owns the urn and the internment location (grave) and the accompanying cemetery rules.

  7. Hello Father. I have a question about transgender surgery. what does the teaching about transgender surgery? Is it immoral according to the Church’s teaching?

    FATHER JOE: It is regarded as wrong and as mutilation of the person as made by God.

  8. Father,
    I understand that all 3 COVID vaccines have used cells derived 50 years ago from an abortion in their development and/or testing. Some Bishops have said if we are given a choice we should NOT get the Johnston and Johnston vaccine as it is more directly tied to abortion. However the Johnston and Johnston vaccine has less side effects and appears safer than the other two vaccines. I think if all 3 vaccines were equally safe then the one with the fewer ties to abortion is better, but all 3 vaccines are not equally safe. Would it be OK for a Catholic to deliberately decide to get the Johnston and Johnston vaccine or would that be a sin. I don’t want to get the Moderna or Pfizer mRNA vaccine so if deliberately getting the Johnston and Johnston vaccine is a sin I won’t get vaccinated. Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: Church authorities would prefer Moderna or Pfizer, even though all the vaccines seem to be morally compromised. The majority of people I know do not really get a choice. Most bishops are saying take what you can get so as to keep yourself and others healthy.

  9. I was at a zoom meeting and my computer was acting up. When I couldn’t get it to work, I jokingly said, “I need to see a priest about an exorcism on my computer– there is a spirit in my hard drive.” One of the attendees vehemently complained that that is an insult to Catholicism because priests do not perform exorcisms on inanimate objects. I looked on line and I can see references to exorcisms on objects. Do you consider the above statement to be an insult to Catholicism?

    FATHER JOE: Persons, places or things can be touched by the demonic. That is one of the reasons why we have prayers to bless pretty much everything. As for your computer, I would hesitate to say that you insulted the faith as such flippancy was without malice and was not intended to demean Catholicism.

  10. Father, I am very confused and worried about the mark of the beast. There seems to be a lot of talk about it lately. How do you get the mark? Can you be forgiven if you take it? Will the church warn us when the mark is here? Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: I would urge you worry about what really matters… living in mortal sin without recourse to God’s forgiveness. Repent of sin; put aside the fundamentalism; and embrace a faith in Christ made real in charity and obedience.

  11. Hello, Father!
    A person who is Catholic keeps calling Pope Francis the anti-Christ and criticizing the Catholic Church. He that he is a Hebrew Catholic. He keeps jumping on me continuously about getting the vaccine for the Coronavirus. I told him the Vatican approved it and he keeps on calling Pope Francis the Antichrist. And bring something that Pope John Paul II said that is against this vaccine. My question is didn’t Pope John Paul II say it was okay to get a vaccine during his time when there was an epidemic of something I keep remembering that. How do you deal with somebody who thinks they’re the head of the Catholic Church when they aren’t.

    FATHER JOE: The Church approves of vaccines and other medical interventions. Moralists prefer certain vaccines over others because of aborted-fetal material usage but the remote cooperation allows a Catholic to receive any of the currently available ones. You are within your rights to get the vaccine, for yourself and to safeguard others. People like you mention fail Catholicism by their rebelliousness and lack of charity. Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ. Rejecting him makes your associate a Schismatic and not a Catholic in good standing. Indeed, where we find Peter (the Pope) we find the Church. This critic of yours will be judged as a Catholic who has deliberately severed himself from the Church. Pray for him.

  12. Thank you Father

  13. Hi,
    Is it okay to kneel at a Protestant service? Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: To pray but not to adore.

  14. So I cheated a few years ago on homework and it was part of the reason I got certain positions and scholarships. The scholarship was mostly me except for my friend literally coming over and editing almost everything. She apparently cared a lot. The teachers in the class I cheated in are no longer at the school. Should I tell the principal and lose all of the positions I have? I’m kinda scared because I really wanted these positions to make my dad proud of me. If I loose them he will be mad and disappointed.

    FATHER JOE: What is done is done. Have you taken it to confession? Bring it to God.

  15. Is it immoral to watch action movies such as Star Wars or the marvel movies? Or even books that contain violence? I have been looking it up and everywhere I look people have this idea of if you watch them you will grow more violent and imitate people in the movie by killing others. Same with video games, if you play them somehow you are worshipping Satan. The neighborhood kids and I used to play with nerf guns around the neighborhood. Since we did that does that automatically mean we are winning because we are portraying violence?

    FATHER JOE: Are you serious? Such an attitude would condemn children of long ago for playing cops and robbers or as cowboys. The Bible is filled with violence— indeed, did you not commemorate the Passion for Lent? You are being too rigid about this.

  16. Dear Father:
    Can a man that has received an annulment, but has children, but isn’t allowed, for whatever reason, to be in his children’s life, can or is that man eligible for Holy Orders (priesthood, monastic vows, hermit, anchorite etc), or is there an impediment? Thanks, God bless..
    David

    FATHER JOE: While there are not many, there are men who were married, had annulments and later received either ordination or entrance into consecrated life. Such decisions rest with the particular bishop or other religious superior. There are many factors that would have to be weighed.

  17. Is it prudent for a priest to question God and what God allows? I was asked this question by a priest, “where do you think God was when people died?” Should this be a lack of faith from this priest?

    FATHER JOE: I suspect that you misunderstood what the priest was trying to say. Where is God when people die? He is there waiting for them.

  18. My husband is a “Cafeteria” Catholic. My question is about his wishes after he dies. He would like to be cremated and scattered. I know how the Church feels about this and have explained it several times to him. He doesn’t care. As his wife I want to make sure I honor his wishes if he should die first, but I am extremely torn about going through with this with how the Church views this well. What do I do besides die first? 😉 Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: Sprinkling human remains is illegal in many places. No one can bind you to violate either the dictates of your faith or civil law. Cremation is currently permitted. I would encourage the urn to be placed in a Catholic columbarium. Some dioceses allow the scattering of ashes at sea; but here too you must go a certain distance out.

  19. As a Christian (I am Lutheran, and my wife is Catholic), is it fine, or not a good idea, to have small Buddha statues in my gardens and flower beds?
    We just bought a house, and the small Buddha statuettes are in various flower beds and flower pots. My wife likes them, but as a Christian, they bother me. When neighbors visit, will they think we are Buddhists or non-Christian? Does it send the wrong message about our belief in Jesus Christ?
    Would God mind? Would doing this (keeping the statuettes in the gardens) have your blessing or approval, or would you discourage us from doing it?
    As a Christian, I just wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate to keep them. I see them as a religious symbol of Buddhism… thus a symbol of beliefs that go against Christianity. I was raised to abhor any type of “false idols to false gods”. My wife simply sees the Buddhas as a symbol of a different culture that we should honor by keeping the statues.
    Thank you very much! We appreciate your guidance and counsel on this matter.
    -Mike K.

    FATHER JOE: Buddha is the founder of an Eastern religion but Buddhists do not believe in a deity. The image symbolizes affiliation and a path of enlightenment in conflict with Christian eschatology. We are not like a drop of water lost in the ocean but children who are called by name to see God. You are right— such images might be taken as a statement about faith. Statues of Mary the Mother of Jesus or St. Francis speak of the Christian history of salvation that Lutherans and Catholics share. While not strictly idols like the images of Hindus, I would not recommend keeping the Buddha statues on display. I am reminded of a young Muslim girl years ago who was wearing crucifix ear rings. Knowing that she was not a Christian, I asked why she wore them. She said they were pretty. God forbid that the Cross be so reduced in meaning! My concern here is confusion about what the little statues in the yard signify. Further, is it not a sign of disrespect to those who place greater meaning in them? I think so. How is one honored when we take such an artifact of another’s faith and reduce it to an ornament?

  20. How did Pope Francis get to be the pope. I mean, he was all the way in far off Argentina. How was he well known enough that the Cardinals would vote for him?

    FATHER JOE: There are very few cardinals, they frequently travel to Rome and they all now each other.

  21. Hello Father!
    My wife and I were married by a Protestant minister who was a Navy chaplain just before I got out of the Navy. At the time, neither I nor my wife was Catholic. I was a faithful Protestant and she was, and still is, part of the “nones.” I was accepted into the Church at the Easter Vigil 2019. Do we need to have our marriage blessed or convalidated?

    FATHER JOE: Given that you were Protestant and your wife was not baptized, then the initial wedding ceremony is sufficient and binding. If at some time in the future she should get baptized and/or join you in the Catholic faith then the marriage will automatically go from being a natural bond to a sacramental bond. Either way, the Church regards it as binding until death.

  22. Hello I have a question, I understand that the Old Testament prophesies about Jesus were fulfilled in the New Testament— how do can we know that the people who wrote the New Testament didn’t just copy the prophecies out of the Old Testament and say that Jesus did them?

    FATHER JOE: The presumption for the Christian is that the whole Bible, Old and New Testament, is inspired by God as the true author. The life and ministry of Christ was recounted by the apostles and Luke makes mention of Mary as one of his sources. You seem to have the chronology backwards. It was in light of what Jesus said and did that the apostles and evangelists looked back to the Old Testament and applied the prophesies to Christ as an attestation that he was the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus comes across as clearly the suffering servant prophesied by Isaiah. He is prefigured by many events in the Hebrew Scriptures. There was no need to invent or refashion a life of Christ to fit prophesy; his mission clearly fit what had been foretold.

  23. Father, I see parishioners going into the confessional with a black book. Can you give me some insight on what kind of book it might be; and what it’s used for in the confessional. I’m new into Catholic faith and wondering if it’s something that may benefit me.

    God Bless

    FATHER JOE: I have no idea about the black book. Could it be a book of prayers?

  24. I have a daughter who is currently 30 years old, who realized in high school that she is attracted to women sexually. She recently proposed to the woman she was has been dating for the past 11 years and living with for the past 7 or so years. This woman is a wonderful person whose influence has made my daughter a better person. My daughter used to be very difficult, selfish, lazy, and had friends who stole and got her involved in witchcraft. The woman she is living with is a very kind and considerate person, has a strong work ethic, and strong sense of right and wrong (such as would never think of stealing). She has made my daughter a better person with her values. I know my daughter truly loves this other woman, because I see her sacrificing her selfishness for the happiness of this other person (which is totally opposite of the person she was).
    I love my Catholic faith. It provides me with so much peace and joy. My daughter would like my blessing for her marriage. My husband and I have been very welcoming to my daughter’s friend in our lives, as we believe in loving and accepting everyone. I am having a difficult time knowing what my position and participation in the wedding should be to support my Catholic faith and beliefs. My daughter asked me if I would like part of the ceremony to be religious with a priest. I was confused by her question because in my mind that is not even possible. She told me about an Episcopal priest who could marry them. She was raised Catholic receiving all the sacraments through Confirmation. Episcopal is not Catholic, so I don’t see any reason why having them married by an Episcopal priest is going to do anything for me.
    I would appreciate any advice on how I should handle her marriage as Jesus would want me to.
    Thank you so much for your time.

    FATHER JOE: A Catholic priest in good standing with the Church could neither witness nor bless a same-sex union that would be construed as analogous to marriage. The Episcopalian churches have capitulated to secular modernity on such questions and that is why I am not surprised that one of their clergy would be willing to officiate. As a parent you might make the decision to be present at the ceremony so as to preserve family harmony. If so, explain to your daughter that while you love her and her friend, you are restricted by your Catholic faith against any immediate involvement with the ritual. Her union or “marriage” will not be recognized by the Catholic Church even if it should be acknowledged civilly. Having said this, it does not surprise me that your daughter should shows signs of becoming a better and well-adjusted person because of the relationship. I have seen such character shifts many times. The movement away from witchcraft is especially promising. The transition is not immediately linked to sexual relations between them but rather to a supportive and caring friendship. Indeed, I have long argued that there should be some way for the Church to solemnize platonic sisterly and/or brotherly relationships between believers. While sex outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin, we are all called to invoke grace into our friendships and families.

  25. Hello Father-
    Hope you are safe and well.

    I have 2 unrelated questions.

    1-My son wants to choose the name Jonathan as his Confirmation name. We are not finding any real information (we found a medal and a small description in a non catholic website). Is there a Saint Jonathan?

    2-Is it a sin to get a tattoo?

    FATHER JOE:

    Jonathan is an Old Testament figure. He is the eldest son of Saul who was faithful to King David. It is also a variation upon the name JOHN of which there is a number of saints, such as the apostle and the baptizer.

    As for tattoos, they seem to be increasingly permitted without stigma; however, the content might make them questionable or seriously sinful. I always had a personal problem with them as they seem to deface or mutilate the human body as God’s handiwork.

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