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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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What are Our Priorities as Christians?

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Too often people trade lasting treasure for that which passes.

We Awaken to the Problem

The defection from faith is an important issue and why for the past two years I invited a young FOCUS missionary named Katie to give her appeal in the parish. Along with other young adults, FOCUS ministers to our youth on college campuses. The statistics are frightful. Some 80% of our youth fall way while at college. These young adults put their careers and much about their personal lives on hold so that they might make a difference for others.

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I think in truth the issues began long before our teens headed off for college or entered the work force. Minimally Catholic kids suddenly find that they do not have the watchful eyes of parents upon them. Quickly, they are influenced by peers who have no quarter in their lives for organized religion or traditional values. Liberal faculties deride Christianity and mock the sacraments as the domain of ignorance. Professor Paul Zachary Myers is the most blatant on this list, urging college students to steal consecrated hosts so that he can document on the Internet his desecration of the Eucharist. This is not representative of a civil debate about belief; rather, it is an emotional and militant attack upon people of faith.

College campuses will sometimes have Newman Centers and/or Catholic Student Associations. But many of the Catholic students fail to get involved. The attendance of Catholic students at Mass, even at Catholic schools is often pathetic. The best numbers I have heard are at places like St. Francis in Steubenville, Ohio and Ave Maria in Florida. I know one school where the chaplain schedules Masses at midnight so that students will have less competition for their time. One is more likely to see lewd photos on Facebook than posts about religious epiphanies and retreats or time before the Blessed Sacrament. Of course, many parents might not know because they are quickly blocked from seeing what is actually going on.

I am not saying that efforts to evangelize in college are in vain. Rather, I am suggesting that more could have been done (or done differently) earlier to minimize the damage later on. Catholic schools could also be more proactive with single-sex dorms, expectations about participation at Mass, and an uncompromised message about fidelity to the faith and the living out of the commandments. However, we have a problem— when honors are granted to those who seek to strip the Church of her religious liberty— when organizations that promote a homosexual agenda and lifestyle are given funds and recognition— when health service referrals include artificial contraception and abortions— and when crucifixes are removed from classroom walls so as not to offend— then we have become our own worst enemy.

Father Joe with Richard Dean Anderson

Father Joe with the actor Richard Dean Anderson, alias MacGyver (series of the same name) and Jack O’Neill in Stargate SG-1:

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Father Joe at Shore Leave 2014

I attended the Shore Leave Convention this past weekend.

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Oh no!  The Daleks are coming after me!  Where’s Doctor Who?

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I took a three day holiday… only to be sucked into a swirling vortex with the TARDIS!

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Father Joe with Silas Weir Mitchell

Father Joe with Silas Weir Mitchell from the NBC television show, Grimm:

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The Church’s Stance to the LGBT Community

thBUDHL29UContinuing this discussion as to how we approach homosexuals in the Church, I would agree that we must acknowledge the whole person. We should resist the temptation, even if they encourage it, of defining them by their disorientation. People can hide behind labels. It is also easier to ridicule and cast aside people who are labeled. We see this in racial slurs and in the language for the enemy in wars. The Church would stand against anything that dehumanizes people or compromises upon the uniqueness of personhood. Everyone is loved. Signs or billboards that say God hates this or that people constitute a false propaganda against the kingdom of Christ. Everyone is someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister. They might suffer from a genetic disorientation, or from trauma or from the manipulation of others— but right or wrong or just confused, they possess an immeasurable value in the eyes of God. If they should return our love with venom in language and deeds, we must maintain the heart and mind of God on their behalf. We cannot accept or excuse sin. If we did we might become an accomplice and a collaborator in the sin of others. But we can love them, even as our views are attacked as prejudice and our words as “hate-speech.”

Pope Francis purportedly told the reporter for La Civiltá Cattolica this about gays: “When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.” Many would take this to mean that a blind eye can be turned to the homosexual lifestyle. However, I think not. It is neither meritorious nor neutral. It is objectively disordered. Homosexual acts are morally wrong. I have spoken before about the distinction between evil acts and the conditions for sin. Only God can know our standing before him.

My priest friend has really surprised me with his vocal dissent on behalf of those living a homosexual lifestyle. Is he inviting intervention from diocesan authorities. He says that all are welcome at his parish and that includes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered persons. He announced that they make no distinctions in their activities (for them or for their children).

He is right that we have no window into people’s bedrooms. But we are confessors and we have eyes and ears for what people promote in public. If same-sex partners kiss each other in church, wear the symbolic rainbow colors, sport tee-shirts and hats that promote an agenda… then I would say we know what is going on. It is disingenuous to say otherwise. It is true that we are all sinners. But the Gospel proclamation comes with an admonishment TO REPENT. We need to live our lives in accordance with the moral law. Jesus says that if we love him then we will obey God. The commandments and the moral law are not optional.

He questioned the MARRIAGE MATTERS campaign that was promoted by the Maryland Catholic Conference. I would not go as far, but also suggested that marriage has been in trouble for a long time, given no-fault divorce and rampant cohabitation.  He insists that heterosexual marriage is not threatened by same-sex civil marriages. Would he quietly bless these unions? I do not know. Part of me does not want to know.

There has been a push, first coming from associates of Bai Macfarlane, that the Church should disassociate herself entirely from civil marriages.  They claim it demeans true marriage as a lasting covenant in Christ.  The argument here is that what a secular society understands by marriage is radically different from the Church; thus, we should not confuse them by allowing priests and deacons to officiate or witness marriages as magistrates for the state.  Various countries require two ceremonies, one at the courthouse and another at the church.  Is this the direction in which we want to go?  It is true that same-sex unions and no fault divorce have seriously compromised the matrimonial institution.  I have another priest friend who suggests that we get out of the marrying business entirely.  Since couples marry themselves, he suggests that we let them get to it without involvement or duplication from the Church.  I disagreed.  It seemed to me that something of the understanding of marriage as a sacrament was at stake.

While we have some control over parish facilities, legal challenges have made matters extremely complicated for our Knights of Columbus halls.  Legally, they may be obliged to host receptions for gay marriages.  External symbols associating these buildings with the Knights of Columbus are being removed.  So-called gay marriages cannot be performed in Catholic churches.  We continue to teach in religious education and from the pulpit that marriage is a bond between a man and a woman.

My priest friend blesses homes as I do.  When I do so, I bring a plaque or picture of the Sacred Heart and we consecrate the home to the Lord.  I bless each room, carrying holy water and a crucifix.  I pray that the devil will have no place to hide, either in their lives or in their house.  My associate blesses homes where the residents may be cohabitating or in same-sex relationships.  Here again I have a grievance.  Priests should do nothing to condone sin.  It would do no good to bless such homes because the lifestyles are not conducive to the graces invoked.  This comes very close to blessing the couples themselves.  A house where the matter of mortal sin is regularly practiced stands more under a curse than a blessing.  Every house blessing is a type of minor exorcism.  The home will really be blessed by the faith and good works of the inhabitants.

Some of us wonder if the whole gay marriage movement might be a sham.  I read recently that a number of the first couples who took advantage of law changes in certain states have already filed for divorce.  Homosexuality is renowned for its transitive nature and multiple partners.  Will the Church and bishops change in how we regard it?  I cannot foresee how.

I am not an ogre.  We have homosexuals who struggle with their weaknesses and who display sacrificial love.  They attend Mass and regularly ask for God’s mercy.  I have seen them care for a beloved friend and for their parents in times of sickness and approaching death.  How do we remain resolute to our teachings and not hurt them?  How do we balance orthodoxy with ministerial compassion?  We have our work cut out for us.

Archie Takes a Bullet & Dies? What’s Next?

Archie Andrews, star of the long-running Archie Comics universe, will take a bullet on Wednesday in a fearless leap to save his gay friend from an assassination attempt. The 73-year-old character’s impending death was first announced in April when Jon Goldwater, co-CEO of Archie Comics Publications Inc., said in an interview with CNN that Riverdale’s famous ginger will go out a hero in “Life with Archie,” which explores Archie’s life as an adult.

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This is ridiculous! Everyone does know it is fiction, right? Does everything have to be politicized and twisted to what someone feels is a righteous cause? What can we expect next?

“Casper the Friendly Ghost Reveals that He was Abused & Murdered as a Child”

“Donald Duck Arrested for Indecent Exposure”

“Olive Oil Dies from Chronic Anorexia, Popeye Ate All the Spinach!”

“Scooby Doo Put Down from Drug Overdose, Shaggy Arrested”

“Garfield Run Over in Hit-&-Run, Keep Your Pets Leashed!”

“Little Lulu Comes Out as Lesbian, Says Stop the Hate!”

“Little Ol’ Lady Who Lived in a Shoe Demands Obama Care Contraceptives”

“Wilma Flintstone Leaves Fred Over Affair & Too Many Yabba-Dabba-Doo Times!”