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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!

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4,953 Responses

  1. Hi,
    I asked something like this before but it seems like it didn’t go through electronically, so maybe you didn’t see it. I went to confession and I certainly felt bad for my sins due to fear of punishment and feeling bad about hurting God. So, I made a good confession in the sense that I confessed my sins and said I was sorry, and wanted to not sin again. But I didn’t specifically wish I hadn’t done every particular sin since my last confession. I think I either forgot I had to do that, or didn’t know I had to. I don’t remember thinking before confession, I wish I hadn’t done such and such action. So, I don’t know if I had true sorrow, if I didn’t wish I hadn’t done each sin. Does that make my confession bad? Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: Sorrow or contrition has to do with knowing that our sins have offended almighty God whom we are to love above all things. It is not entirely the same as human regret over certain actions for their own sake. I suspect you are being overly scrupulous about your confession.

  2. Dear Father,

    I live in California, and I have been away from the Church for many years. Today I went to confession for the first time in over 30 years. The priest said he doesn’t need to hear all my sins but if there was something I needed to get off my chest I could, otherwise he would give me the absolution. I said that it would take a long time for me to go over all my sins and that I would accept the absolution. There were people waiting and I didn’t want to be inconsiderate. As I was driving home, I felt that this was too easy. A bit underwhelming. Does this count? I want to start receiving communion on Sunday mass. I’m not sure if this type of process is common since I haven’t been to confession since I was a kid.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer this.

    Best,

    Jake

    FATHER JOE: It is good to be thorough but there are only so many hours in a day and others also needed to go to confession. The priest absolved your sins and you were sincere. Let it go and praise God!

  3. How must one be disposed to receive Baptism validly as an adult?

    FATHER JOE: One must be prepared (instruction) and desire to be a Christian.

  4. Super appreciate your thoughts. They will definitely help my family.

    Character Skills is the modern day term for perseverance, work ethic, compassion, honesty, loyalty, self discipline/self control, conscience and ability to navigate with one’s conscience. Certain schools require some form of Character Skill assessment for acceptance. This falls on parents responsibility to develop in their children.

    I actually considered and came one side with notion that my son may have career option as a Priest because of the number of times he read his Children’s Bible. But the thought crossed my mind that he’s probably not ready after seeing what comprises of Character Skills. Being a Priests demands a high level of Character Skills.

    So I wondered who in the RCC would actually had the role, to consider this and build this in to a road map for children? It’s not part of my Local Youth Minister’s mandate.

    In fact having a religious road map that also includes your points of family collaboration in development of faith would be super helpful. Who in the local archdiocese I talk to building this road map?

    FATHER JOE: Issues like commandments and virtue education would fall under the catechetical office.

  5. The images are captured in digital format and been shared with some clergy at my local archdiocese. I am more than happy to share with you. In fact my local Bishop said to get others to validate if they can see the same. They are not personal messages and are intended for priests. I have sent to the archdiocese spiritual office as well as the Cardinal’s office. Some priests see more clear than others. My young’s kids are baptized and believe in God and can see. My wife cannot and if not for covid would be in RCIA. Having said this, there is no doubt the images are real. The head of vocations at my archdiocese has seen, and we are now in discussion. It is a fact I can teach the skill. God intended I teach to priests.

    I don’t know how to navigate the RCC well. Ultimately this is where I need help

  6. I have

  7. Hi Fr. Joe,
    I have a couple questions.
    First, can someone who is not baptized and who doesn’t practice a religion (but who likely believes in God) make it to Heaven? I’m thinking of my niece and nephew who were never baptized. I love them very much, and they are wonderful young adults. But I worry about them, not having been baptized and not practicing any organization religion.

    Second…we as Catholics believe that if we die in mortal sin, we wouldn’t make it to even Purgatory but would land in Hell, correct? Do we believe this is always the case? I have heard, ‘God judges us perfectly’. Say a person lives a good life of generosity and service to others…and is a life long practicing Catholic for the majority of his or her life. They happen to skip Mass one Sunday (mortal sin), making a poor choice…and end up in an accident where they die before they can seek God’s forgiveness. What are your thoughts in this type of circumstance?

    Thank you,
    Sarah

    FATHER JOE:

    I am not sure what it would mean to “likely” believe in God. Do you mean that such is made dubious by how one might define a deity? The Hindus believe as did the ancient Greeks and Romans in multiple gods. The Buddhists claim no deity at all. The Deist philosophers imagine that there is a creator-deity, but that he generally disengages himself from what he has made like a cosmic watch-maker. The early Christians derided pagan deities as either false or as demons in disguise. None of these religions possess the saving kerygma.

    The Father God of the Jews is the true God who reveals himself in Christianity as one God in three Divine Persons. The second Person, the living Word, becomes incarnate as a man and redeems us by his passion and Cross. Salvation for Christians comes with both a personal and corporate faith in Jesus Christ that is realized with loving obedience. The ritual that Jesus gives us for incorporation into the family of God and into the Church is water baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the sacrament of penance (ministry of reconciliation) for sins committed after baptism. He gives us the Mass and Eucharist so that we would never be abandoned— spiritual food for our journey as pilgrims.

    We might rationally argue a proof for the existence of God, but this alone does not establish a saving relationship, either. The devil knows there is a God but he refuses to bend the knee. All this is the long way around to answering your question. As a priest I believe that faith in Christ and in his Church is the normative way to be saved. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. His is the saving name— there is no other. Does that mean that non-Catholics and non-Christians cannot be saved? We trust that the good LORD knows human hearts. God will save whom he wills. If one finds him or herself in heaven, whatever the earthly circumstances, that person will still have to thank Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only bridge between us and the Father. God is merciful and generous. But we must be careful of presumption, even for ourselves as Catholics. If we believe and practice our faith then we can live in the sure and certain HOPE of our salvation. That is the most any can really say.

    Give your unbaptized niece and nephew a Bible, a Catechism and a Rosary. If you really love them then introduce them to the Lord Jesus. Witness to them and then leave all the rest to God.

    Yes, if you die in mortal sin then you have rejected God’s friendship and are spiritually dead. As with Russian roulette, I suspect many today pass much of their lives in mortal sin— if they should die in that state— then they will get the hell they have made for themselves. God will not force souls into heaven. He will not force his children to love him. As terrible as it might sound to us, the damned would prefer hell to heaven. Death makes us more of what we currently are, with all the veils and distractions removed. At least with the soul in venial sin, the candle of faith has not gone out. Their love for God makes possible purgation and perfection. They face the Lord with contrite hearts. Those who die in mortal sin were dead long before their hearts stopped. Mortal death makes their status permanent. Why would those who hate God want to spend eternity giving him glory? Yes, it is a tragedy, because we were made for God.

    Is it true that those in mortal sin are forever damned? Yes, this is always so. Of course, a person could convert or repent in the last moments of mortal life. God gives such a grace to some of his children. But some wait too long. The end comes like a thief in the night.

    Your example about Mass attendance is too simplistic. Missing Mass through one’s own fault without good reason is indeed a matter of mortal sin and a violation of a basic precept of the Church. However, that does not always speak to the subjective status of the person given matters like fatigue, busy schedules, emergencies, mental or emotional disturbances, etc. God knows the truth. Certain sinful acts constitute serious or grievous matter. Deliberate sins of this sort are frequently mortal. But the subjective state is usually more than one random act that is otherwise against one’s general character. Many people today regularly miss Mass or come late because they do not care. They do not say their prayers and they rarely put themselves out for charity. Instead of looking outward to God and neighbor, there is a selfish turning inward. They prefer the darkness to light. They go through the motions of faith and later not even that. Repentance and conversion becomes increasing difficult for such people— but not impossible.

    But as said in the beginning, God saves whom he wills.

  8. Dear Fr. Joe,

    When does looking become lusting? Would you consider this situation lust? I was on Instagram and someone I know had posted a picture of them in a bikini. Now, taking in consideration of my past I’ve unfortunately hardwired myself to look at certain areas without even trying to. However, if you would let it pass by then look again would that be crossing the line. I didn’t have any like lustful thoughts or anything, but I wasn’t sure if looking again would cross the line. If I’m being honest I do not think I was looking in certain areas the second time around but I can’t decide

    Thank you,

    FATHER JOE:

    Dear Fr. Joe,

    When does looking become lusting? Would you consider this situation lust? I was on Instagram and someone I know had posted a picture of them in a bikini. Now, taking in consideration of my past I’ve unfortunately hardwired myself to look at certain areas without even trying to. However, if you would let it pass by then look again would that be crossing the line. I didn’t have any like lustful thoughts or anything, but I wasn’t sure if looking again would cross the line. If I’m being honest I do not think I was looking in certain areas the second time around but I can’t decide

    Thank you,

    FATHER JOE:

    Such beach attire can make the custody of the eyes very difficult. Most if not all men are naturally hard-wired in their attraction to such. While we suffer from a fallen nature, we must be careful not to curse or condemn as sinful what God has made. God has made men and women attractive to each other for purposes of fidelity and the propagation of the species. While I cannot say for sure if there were lustful elements to your momentary glances, it is likely nothing to worry about. People are attracted to the opposite sex and to beauty. The sin of lust implies a reduction of another to an object that might satisfy one’s passions while eroding them as “personal” subjects. Lust undermines human dignity. Pope John Paul II said that lust, even in marriage is a sin. He was wrongly ridiculed for this. He was not arguing against a passion wherein there is self-donation and elevation of the beloved. He was making the correction that no one should be reduced to a commodity for selfish wants, literally treating a person of value as meat for the beast.

  9. when i was younger i pulled up in my driveway with my mom and her husband i was 15 i had woods behind my house i happened to be looking that way and i saw this red eyed demon thing staring back at me and i asked mom if she saw it she said she didnt see anything at all all these years it still freaked me out and i still havent gotten a answer about it what does it mean if i was the only one that saw it is it coming after me still?


    FATHER JOE:
    I suspect you merely saw an animal in the woods. Car lights can reflect off the eyes.

  10. Dear Father Joe,
    I struggle with the understanding Parents are the most responsible to help their children make their way to heaven, but when I hear my close family tell me their kids are not engage in their religion, I ask myself how much of this responsibility does Parents need to take vs the Church family/youth ministries vs children.

    FATHER JOE: The primary catechist of the child is the parent. If parents went to Mass every Sunday, prayed as a family at home, collaborated with the parish religion teachers and personally witnessed the faith . . . then the family has likely done all it could do. If the children still defect, the moral blame is with the offspring. But I can tell you as a priest, a majority of families today do not practice and so many families are intensely culpable.

  11. Dear Father Joe,
    Nice to meet you virtually. You are doing a terrific job with blogger priest.

    I am a devout RC with a skill to receive images and written messages after prayer. This started happening after I decided to devote my life to serving Jesus in a relationship based on love, service, commitment and friendship. I said the Miracle Prayer then my life changed when Christ revealed his covenant to me. I am a stage in my life where I am nearing early retirement, I am physically trying to recover from a health matter, and my wife will continue working. These conditions made it possible for me to decide to commit my life to serving Jesus.

    I am at a cross roads on a number of things, following a calling to service by Jesus. Some of the things I cannot discuss in public. They involve understanding how to navigate the archdiocese to get fair consideration for certain programming updates. I am also looking for assistance from a expert of discernment. It is something I would like to talk offline about. If you can reach out to me, I will super appreciate it.

    Thank you so much. Best Regards and God Bless!
    Gerry

    FATHER JOE: I cannot say whether you are getting inner locutions or are hallucinating. I cannot imagine the archdiocese hiring you if you tell them such. I would encourage you to get well and to find employment to assist your spouse with domestic expenses. Peace.

  12. Buzzards are stalking me I know this sounds crazy but I’m absolutely sure they are.and it’s every where I go now i see them circling over head and a it freaked a friend out it’s only been happening for a few weeks now that I have noticed it.i made a gesture aiming my finger at one and I promise you that Bird got offended and it has been flying close to me or when I’m in another state because I drive OTR and there are always buzzards flying close to me and circling over head what does this mean.am I cursed??.how can I remove a voodoo spell?

    FATHER JOE: I have a favorite crow with whom I dialogue. Birds can be smart. Some even mimic voices. I doubt there is anything supernatural going on.

  13. Hello Father:
    I am 64, never married, seeing a woman who is widowed and 72 years old. We are very happily Catholic, celibate, and living a sacramental life, receiving the Eucharist and going to confession. Our great desire is to follow God’s will and we both accept that we are rapidly moving towards the sacrament of holy matrimony. We both want to avoid any sexual sin as we love God and want to follow his intentions. We both have very loving, strong sexual natures but we are saving those for the sacrament and fully intend to live chastely within marriage. Having read the catechism, we both fully accept that all marital acts must be open to life and to bonding and neither one of us wants to violate God’s will. But I need advice about something because it was not made clear in the catechism concerning our particular situation. She is well past her child bearing years and had her uterus removed about 30 years ago. The only way she could possibly fulfill being open to life is that God would have to work a great miracle in her, which is, of course, possible. My question is this: If we engaged in loving acts that helped us bond even closer, such as gentle oral acts not involving climax, or her gently and lovingly using her hand, are these acts open to us? Neither one of us has any interest in any other types of non vaginal acts other than these. Are these acts of love open to us? I am honestly not sure. Would really appreciate some guidance. We both are totally wanting to not offend God in these things but because our situation seems closed off to life, and these loving acts would give us great joy and increase our bond, if not sinful given our situation, we need real guidance on how to proceed and will, in all humility accept your guidance. I do not mean to give offense in asking this question, I just need direction so we don’t sin.
    Thank you very kindly. Mike

    FATHER JOE: The issue with the marital act, even when fecundity or fertility is negated by health and age, is that it must still be “that type of act” through which there is the transmission of human life. This is why even condomistic intercourse (to avoid virus infection) between elderly spouses is still regarded as immoral. Catholic moral theology teaches that digital or oral manipulation may lead to or foster the marital act but should not be pursued (to climax) in substitution for it. God understands that marital intimacy is not an exact science. If you should get married, be gentle and respecting of each other and know that God is merciful. Peace!

  14. I have three Catholic children with a divorce. We are both divorced. Are we good Catholics? Our kids are baptized and our eldest will make communion this year.

    FATHER JOE:

    We often ask the question, “Are we good Catholics?” when it is likely we already know the answer better than anyone else. Do we pray daily? Do we participate at Sunday Mass? Do we seek to live a life of charity to the poor and to the hurting around us? If previously married, have we sought an annulment and convalidation? Do we benefit from the spiritual graces that come along with the sacrament of matrimony?

    You already admit to your benefit having your children baptized and with the eldest making first Holy Communion. Sharing the sacraments comes along with formation and Christian witness. You are the first catechists of your children. Witness to them a willingness to invite God’s healing and mercy into your lives.

    We are all sinners who need divine assistance. Our Lord gives us the Church and the sacraments so that we will appreciate that we have not been abandoned.

  15. Is looking at pornography but not watching the video and not masturbating a sin?

    FATHER JOE: How is looking not watching? Stop playing games . . . it is a sin.

  16. Father, currently, how do we as Catholics make sense of the crusades in the past for the modern times and could the Maccabean revolt be considered as a type of proto-crusade against the threat of foreign powers against the Church?

    FATHER JOE: I do not believe there is any effort to extrapolate between them. The crusades were fought to maintain access to the Holy Land for pilgrims. Some made it an enterprise to enrich their pockets. The revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire was an internal struggle against the pagan or Greek pollution of the Jewish religion.

  17. Hello, Father Joe, I would like to know what is the real truth of the Crusades?

    FATHER JOE: See a recent comment.

  18. I conversed in conversation with a voice that proclaimed himself God. I also received messages by divine intervention
    Religious pamphlets and messages on my life to date.

    Who can I trust in helping me with my divine encounter?

    FATHER JOE: Not to be hurtful, but you likely need psychiatric counseling. God does not normally interact with people this way. Those who claim such are most often not well or deceived by the demonic.

  19. Every day I pray to God to protect me against getting COVID and yet I still got COVID. Why didn’t God protect me? I asked Archangel Michael to put a circle of protection around me against COVID. I asked Jesus to protect me against COVID and yet I still got COVID. Why did he do that to me?

    FATHER JOE: I think you are confusing the reality of God with the fantasy of a genie that grants wishes. Why did my baby brother die? Why are my lungs bad? Why do I have increasing mobility issues? It is all a mystery between divine providence and the damage in the world caused by sin. It is not our role to make demands of God. By the way, did you get vaccinated and wear a mask in public settings?/blockquote>

  20. QUESTION: I was married several years ago (outside the Church) and then we got married in the Catholic Church. After 8 years my husband didn’t want to be married so we divorced. I then got remarried and this also ended in divorce. My father became ill and my second husband moved back in to help take care of him. I started going back to church at that time and after my father passed, we started sleeping together. We were recently remarried. I would really like to go to communion but was told I could not. Is this true?

    FATHER JOE: Unless there is an annulment then the Church would still consider you married to your first husband. The second marriage was outside the Church, divorce and remarriage aside. Objectively you were probably told to refrain from the sacrament because of an irregular union, i.e. adulterous relationship. You may be civilly married but as far as the Church is concerned, not in the eyes of God. I would urge you to speak with your local priest about the situation and explore the possibility of an annulment of the first bond so that there might be a convalidation. Peace!

  21. The serpent speaks to me through my husband. So does another angry, tired, but seemingly good entity. What is going on with me and my husband? My husband often sees visions and I have medium like abilities.

    FATHER JOE: Mental delusion aside, if there is anything supernatural going on, it is playing games with you. In other words, it is all the same entity or a variation of legion. The visions are likely induced by the same demon or demons that are deceiving you about having “medium” abilities. They are working through you so as to further your bondage to them. Read Acts 16:16-34.

  22. I am 75 and have some underlying health issues. I have been going to mass in person, but now do not feel comfortable with the new Omicron virus going in person can I switch to virtual until the virus subsides.

    FATHER JOE: The Mass obligation has been restored in most places. Only you can discern given health concerns whether it is safe for you.

  23. I left Mass being disturbed this evening. There was a Quinceñera honoree with several young attendees and one could tell they were not Catholic. When it came time to receive Holy Communion all participated in receiving the host. Afterwards, they went back to the pew snickering and laughing. Is this the new acceptable norm in our Church? I am quite saddened by the disrespect.

    FATHER JOE: Bad behavior is not a determinate as to whether one is a Catholic or not. Kids can be thoughtless. It is likely that the 15 year old girl and her friends are baptized but not regular in their church participation. Many pastors and their catechists struggle earnestly to pass on the faith and to assist parents in the religious formation of their children. Many parents weep, wondering why their efforts sometimes fail. Be careful that you do not wrong the Church and hurt those who are struggling to save the lapsed and youth who are formed more by modernity than the Catholic religion. Such rudeness as you describe is obviously not a new ecclesial “norm.”

  24. I’m having trouble with prayer is thief a right or wrong way to pray do I start with a our father or Hail Mary do I use my rosary beads or can I just start talking I don’t know how to talk to god at least correctly please help me find god .

    FATHER JOE: Sorry, I cannot follow what you are trying to say. Just talk to the Lord.

  25. Hi Father,

    My niece was baptized Catholic and has also received the First Communion sacrament. Her parents went through a very difficult divorce and she has visitations with her dad. Without getting any sort of approval from her mom, her dad went ahead and took her to his Christian church and had her baptized Christian. She is old enough to receive the Confirmation sacrament. Would we still be able to do that even though he had her baptized Christian? She is a special needs child and didn’t get asked if she wanted to be baptized in his faith nor did he seek approval from my niece’s mom.

    FATHER JOE: Given that she is “special needs” such a decision rests with her and her legal guardian. There can be serious legal repercussions about such matters. Obviously, the Catholic Church would give no weight to the second baptism but no doubt this particular Protestant church rejects our claim upon Christianity.

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