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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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61 Responses

  1. I want to get a tattoo? Is that against the Catholic Church ?

    FATHER JOE: I recently made this reply… 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.

  2. I need to know how many people every year go to hell for having sex. Our Lady said that most people go to hell for sins of the flesh. It appears to me that sexual reproduction was not a good idea as sex is filling up hell faster than it is filling up the earth, or at least the same rate.
    Asking for a friend.

    FATHER JOE: It would be a grievous sin to impugn the manner that the Creator gave the human race for the propagation of the species. As for how many go to hell because of sexual transgressions, neither do you need to know nor can anyone tell you. You should be more concerned about the state of your own soul than worried about how others will be judged.

  3. I’m a high school student and about months away from attending college. Recently i was thinking about all the sins i have done in the past to ask god for forgiveness. I cheated at some tests in highschool and now i regret it so bad and feel guilty and have decided to stop cheating. Can i use my highschool report card and admit to college with it knowing that some marks on it were obtained as a result of cheating? And if i use this report card and get admitted in college and manage to graduate and get a job, will the wage i earn be considered as money stolen by me from my employer because i cheated? And will me spending this money be a sin as god doesn’t approve it? Or shall i ask forgiveness from god and use this high school report card to get into college and get a job and it won’t be a sin to do so, as god will forgive me for my past mistakes?

    FATHER JOE: What is done is done. God to confession and commit yourself to hard work and honesty in college.

  4. Hi Father,

    I recently went to confession after being away from the church for over 8 years. After being away for so long, I was extremely nervous and emotional about going to confession. I did a full examination of my conscience, was truly sorry for my sins, confessed them all and did my assigned penance which was to do something charitable. Early on in my confession, I mentioned the fact that I recently suffered 2 miscarriages, which is true. But looking back, I worry that maybe I mentioned that fact in hopes that by knowing this information, the priest would go easier on me. My question is did I invalidate my whole confession by giving the priest this unnecessary background information in hopes to gain sympathy?

    FATHER JOE: Your confession was fine, stop worrying.

  5. Dear Father,

    My question is about love. Specifically, it is about when you are deeply in love and years ago he played a significant role in your life and in your Catholic faith. This love still lives in your heart and you cannot purge it. You fell in love and he with you— but you both decided that it could not be. Not talking sexual love here, but rather a “coup de foudre” or emotional and uncontrollable love at first sight. You did not want to feel that love, but it was there nonetheless. He had married in the Church (sacrament) just out of collect; and yet, his wife had abandoned the union (even left the country), long before you met. Then a year AFTER you met him, the Catholic wife decides she wants the marriage to recommence and returns. Raised Baptist, from a young age, in various ways I felt the Eucharist calling out to me. My cousins were catholic and I was a Girl Scout at a troop sponsored by a Catholic church. I felt called and sensed the Spirit in a way never felt in my childhood Baptist home. Because of the love and respect for my Baptist-devoted mother, I did not have the courage to follow that call. Meeting, knowing, and loving this person— and witnessing what a devout Catholic he is— gave me the courage and strength to follow the Eucharist into the Church. And I have loved every second of my Catholic life.

    We both had sense that God led us to knowing one another. However, we also knew that any continuing kind of relationship could not be. Walking away from each other was the hardest and most painful thing I have ever done. I later encountered a “chosen” love and started a family with him. We are married now for 25 years with two children. But my heart still yearns for that other person. I feel guilty that my dreams and my heart still pines for that previous love. My dreams take me back to him even now. I know I would never have acted on it. I have tried to purge these feelings from my heart, but I simply cannot, even after 30 years. There has been no contact, whatsoever. What do God and the Church have to say about this? I cannot extract him from my heart— I have tried. Even though there has been no contact, I know this is wrong. But my soul still yearns… Father, what can I do?

    01-10-21 FATHER JOE:

    You say that you know this is wrong? But you speak about a good man who witnessed to you his faith and values. His estranged wife returns and he returns to fidelity with her. You enter the Church and eventually marry and have children of your own. Again, what is wrong? So called love at first sight is chemistry. It seems to me that your love for the first man was more than this, a movement of your soul in response to his strength of character and moral goodness. Your heart went out to him and likely wanted a unity that you could not have. Still there was nothing wrong. You must know by now that along with joy or satisfaction with love, it also brings tears and the pain of sacrifice. Celibate priests know this in their vows or promises; but the best of God’s shepherds are those who minister from wounded or broken hearts. Real love cannot be purged or exorcised. Rather, it must be acknowledged so that we might be transformed. The true love of your life is your husband. Your fidelity to Christ is realized in your love and faithfulness to each other. This does not stop you from loving the Lord or your children or the good people (like this man) who made a difference for you. The measure in terms of emotions is different for each person you remember in your life. But love is so much more than feelings and is a movement of the will. This old friend may possess a small but precious part of your heart; but the wonderful thing about loving is that when it is real it can never be exhausted. Look at motherhood. The intense love for one does not mean that another is loved any less. Love means unity but it sometimes means letting go. Love means happiness but it also often means tears. All this is okay and is as it should be.

  6. xIs restitution necessary for salvation? When I mean restitution I mean restitution for things like gossip or insulting others.

    FATHER JOE:

    We would err in viewing restitution merely in terms of mathematics. Often we cannot fully restore what has been taken. How does one repair the trust that is broken? How does one repair another’s good name or reputation? How does one heal memories of being wronged? It is difficult even to repay ordinary debts and often resources are not available to make right on wrongs committed. Jesus makes satisfaction for our sins by the price of his passion and Cross. The calling given us is to take up our crosses and to follow him. The implication is to do our part in making amends for sin that dishonors God and hurts our neighbor. The meaning of restitution is found both in justice and in a need to bring healing. Understood in this way, it is not merely a box to check off for salvation but an essential element in living out our Christianity. Look at the sayings of Christ:

    “If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:45-48).

  7. What do you think about the corona virus? What should we think from a Catholic perspective? I found myself feeling angry with God today for this cross he has given us to bear right now. There is a brewing resentment I feel because I am a health care worker. I will probably be exposed to the virus. What if I die and my children are left without a mother? It seems unfair.

    01-08-21 FATHER JOE: While it sometimes comes to us as a momentary gift, there is no absolute justice or security in this world. The innocent suffer and die along with the guilty. The world’s harmony is broken by sin. Jesus would have us find solidarity with him who did not shy away from his passion and death. He bluntly tells us to take up our crosses and to follow him. You will not find perfect happiness in this world. Some only know lives of pain and death. Others cannot even escape the womb in one piece. Ours is not the Pollyanna god but the one who is betrayed, scourged and crucified.

  8. Is it alright for a practicing Catholic to attend an Indian wedding? I have read information from other Catholic website
    stating that it is fine to attend. Some members of the Catholic family are against this. Could you please tell me where the church stands on this matter?
    Thank you very much

    FATHER JOE: I suspect what you mean by “Indian” is “Hindu” or non-Christian. As long as no Catholics are being married outside the Church, it is permissible to attend such a wedding. Catholics should not actively participate in non-Christian rituals or ceremonials.

  9. [POSTED COMMENT DELETED]

    FATHER JOE:

    It is wrong to plagiarize others and to post the material as your own work. You purloined a whole section of the late Alan Watts from his work, THE BOOK: ON THE TABOO AGAINST KNOWING WHO YOU ARE: “An ardent Jehovah’s Witness once tried to convince me that if there were a God of love, he would certainly provide mankind with a reliable and infallible textbook for the guidance of conduct. I replied that no considerate God would destroy the human mind by making it so rigid and unadaptable so as to depend upon one book, the Bible, for all the answers. The book I would like to slip to my children would itself be slippery. We think of God as King of the Universe, the Absolute Technocrat who personally and consciously controls every detail of his cosmos. Sophisticated Hindus do not think of God as a special and separate superperson who rules the world from above like a monarch….”

    While divine providence cannot be thwarted, I would hesitate to call God a “technocrat.” As for Scripture, it is not a manual of either science or ethics; however, there are moral teachings contained within the Scriptures, a book that is inspired by the Holy Spirit and which transmits necessary salvation truths. Further, while the Bible grants us a view of God’s progressive revelation to mankind; there are immutable teachings and values given by Christ and the apostles.

    While certain Hindus regard all the various apparitions of deities as a single God, this religion is not traditionally regarded as within the umbrella of monotheism. While many religions, even false ones, sometimes stumble upon profound truths, they do not give us a clear picture or revelation of the one true God that created us and calls us to forgiveness and new life in Christ. I would very much disagree with Watts’ assessment that the Christian God stands outside the world or creation. Indeed, much more than a Hindu phantasm, our is the God where the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word, takes to himself human flesh and is born into the human family. God comes down to earth so that we might go to heaven. There is no inner dynamism posited by the oriental religions that can compare to the intimacy of the incarnation. The almighty God makes himself weak and small. He is born to die. God takes to himself a human nature so that by grace we might share in the divine nature. We are not saved from “outside” as Watts expresses it, but from within, on our side of the equation.

    The sources of revelation in Scripture and Tradition are gifts given us by God. Divine gifts are not capricious or disposable. God challenges us to live and to think in a new way. The human or earthly man is often selfish and self-seeking. He subscribes to the “eye for an eye” mentality that increasing promotes violence and hatred. The Decalogue reminds us of our responsibility to one another. The Beatitudes challenge us with a positive list, not simply things to avoid. Christ’s two-fold commandment of love calls us to be a parable people. Given the heart and mind of Christ, we become signs of contradiction to the world around us. There is nothing about Watts’ approach that would raise us from the mire. The Christian life and discipleship is essentially recognition of dependence upon God and a response. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot move upwards or towards God by our own power. The mystery of faith is that God comes down to us. The pattern for discipleship is seen first in Mary. She says YES to God and to the message given her by an angel. God essentially asks her, “Will you give me a man?” Her “fiat” signifies her role as the handmaid of the Lord. Essentially, she responds for all mankind, “Let it be done!” We respond to the redemptive Cross and the saving works of Jesus.

    Catholics are not puritans. Ours is not simply an “angry God” but the God that loves us and the Lord of mercy.

    We do not as Christians subscribe to the so-called oriental principle of Yin and Yang. We do not believe that all things exist as indivisible and contrary opposites. Ours is a God of absolute perfections— all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, all-loving, etc. Evil is a privation and is not an equally balanced principle to that which is good. The devil is a fallen angel but he is not God. Suffering and death come into the world because of primordial sin. They do not emerge from necessity or as the work of a good God. While God is a great and unfathomable mystery, he has given us reason and revelation to know him. The terms Watts mentions are not as nebulous as he makes out. God is the Creator and he sustains all creation. He is “esse” or “to be” or “existence” itself. He gives existence to beings like us in a participatory fashion. The God of the philosophers which must by definition exist is shown be revelation to be a personal God who cares about us and has made men and women into the stewards of material creation.

    We subscribe to the notion of intelligent design. We view the universe with wonder, not merely as parts of a “big machine.” As for heaven, Watts (a fallen-away Episcopalian) reveals a profound ignorance of what we understand as the home of the saints. I suspect his caricature is the result of a person who has either been poorly catechized or not formed at all by the authentic Gospel. There is nothing grim or boring about the mystery of heaven. The saints of God literally live within the mystery of the Trinity and rejoice in the beatific vision. The saints swoon in the face of a mystery that cannot be consumed or exhausted. We were made for God and the posture of the creature is to give him glory. It is Satan that says NO to God and refuses to sing “alleluia” forever. I suspect the false deity fashioned here reflects the dim light of this fallen angel and not the brilliance of almighty God.

    The images employed by religion are not entirely symbolic, but rather are analogies to discern the truth. We may only scratch the surface but what we know is not fantasy but regarded as truth.

    The quotation from watts jumps next to childbirth, which Scripture denotes as painful due to original sin. God does not punish his children for the joy that he had attached to the desire and need to find union in another and to have children. Sexual relations between a husband and wife are not sinful but rather constitute a divine gift. The pain like all suffering was the result, not of following the proper orientation of nature but for a profound disobedience. God had fashioned for himself creatures of spirit and flesh. Man was called to be the steward of creation with a special friendship with God. Humanity could respond in kind to God, by knowing and loving him back in return. But there was a great responsibility to this charge that our first parents rejected. It was easier to fall back upon all fours— to be a beast instead of a creature fashioned in the image and likeness of God. The fault is our disobedience. A trajectory we were on shifts because of sin. It will only be corrected by the redemptive work of Christ.

    Our hope for eternal life and restoration “body and soul” is not a “pie-in-the-sky” fiction as the Marxists proposed, just so that we will tolerate disappointment and suffering in the here-and-now. We really do believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, revealed himself to many witnesses and established a Church to sustain his message and presence for the ages. While religions often employ the language of myth and symbols, this must not be equated with the fanciful or fraudulent. Christianity, while true religion, signifies (in a sense) an end to magic and religion as popularly understood. The veil is lifted. The fog has passed. Jesus is the revelation of the face of God, of the Father. God has kept his promise to intervene. The breach between heaven and earth is bridged by Christ who is the great pontifex.

  10. Father, once I asked a priest to bless a rosary, and I was told that he would do it, but that it was unnecessary because the act of praying with it blessed it. Now I have a rosary app on my smartphone for times when I am traveling and don’t have my rosary or am simply in in another part of the house, or maybe sitting in a waiting room. I know you can’t sell blessed objects, so if I have been using my rosary app does that mean I can’t use my current phone as a trade in when I get a new one? I’d like to be sure before that comes up.

    FATHER JOE: Things can take upon themselves a special spiritual meaning through usage, but when we speak of blessed sacramentals, we are still talking about objects formally blessed by a priest. Your phone or tablet is not a blessed sacramental.

  11. My mother says it is time for advent soon , not Christmas and we shouldn’t decorate for Christmas because the season has not begun. The catholic churches don’t decorate for Christmas yet.

    FATHER JOE: The Filipinos anticipate Christmas with a novena of Masses called Simbang Gabi. It is approved by the Church. The liturgical season of Advent is followed by the Church but not by society. I think it is great that your mother wants to observe Advent. However, God is not offended by those who commemorate the true meaning of Christmas, regardless of the calendar.

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