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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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Deceit in Marriage

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I was married two months ago in the Episcopal Church. While I thought he was truthful about finances I now find out that he owes over $20,000.  I am having a hard time forgiving him.  Although I am in my 60’s, this has forced me to take three jobs to try and pay it off.  I am so angry about his lies!  Can I get an annulment?  Please pray that I might find it in myself to forgive him.

Response

If you are a Catholic and got married in the Episcopal church without a dispensation, then (after a civil divorce) you could apply for a declaration of nullity because of a lack of canonical form. Catholics are required to get married before a priest or deacon. The documents required are as follows: baptismal certificate, copy of marriage license and divorce decree.  If you can make the relationship work then you should see a priest about a convalidation.

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Growing Up & Autonomy

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I am in my twenties and having a difficult time with my mother. She is increasingly not respecting my personal space in our home.  She comes into my room unannounced. It is particularly disconcerting when I am getting cleaned up or dressing.  I have asked her to knock and to request permission.  Although I believe I am only asking her to respect my boundaries, she has become offended and has resorted to calling me names. I depend on my parents for transportation and I am looking for someone to turn to for assistance— there are very few people I know.

Response

As a young woman, you are certainly entitled to your privacy; but, more so, you should be treated as an adult and not as a child. Your education and work opportunities should be directed toward a personal autonomy. Your parents should also focus on this. However, families are not perfect and sometimes there are hindrances to maturation and even faith within the home. You can try dialogue with your mother, but there is no guarantee about how others will act. Growing up and breaking out is rarely easy. I would suggest keeping yourself grounded upon Christian faith and values. This is important as even the culture can lead us in the wrong direction.

Seeing Ourselves in Peter’s Denial

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I am a Lenten backslider.  There is so much I could have done but have failed to do, especially to help the downtrodden. As I think about my own spiritual failures I am reminded of Peter’s thrice denial.  Was his denial of Christ a mortal sin?  After he was forgiven by Jesus did he sin again?  Returning to myself, despite going to Confession I have defiled myself by my actions

Response

Peter’s denial of Christ was serious, but he was healed by the risen Christ on the beach when asked three times, DO YOU LOVE ME? Sin is ultimately a failure to love as we should. Regarding your life, I cannot speak to the gravity of sin without specificity, but it is true that we can sin by the things we do and by “the things we fail to do.” In any case, in light of Peter, remember that our Lord is merciful. We are all weak and sinful. Jesus heals us all the same.

Was Peter sinless after his encounter with the risen Jesus on the beach?  All we can know is that Jesus would always lift him up if he should stumble.  Such is the message that you must take to heart.

If past selfishness troubles you, there is still time to embrace a life of charity.  You have stumbled upon a profound truth, “Charity covers a multitude of sins.”

Our Lord would have us forgive as he forgives.  We read in Matthew 18:21-22:

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

This colloquialism or saying literally meant endless forgiveness.  God’s mercy is always available to those with contrite hearts.  Accept his forgiveness and share it with others.

Priests Vulnerable to Scandal

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I am a 19 year old girl currently on vacation with my uncle, with who I am very close. He is a Catholic priest. He has been acting very sneaky and deceptive lately . I went on his phone and found out that he is having an affair with a woman I once met. I do not know what to do. Should I talk to him about it? I am planning to go with him on a pilgrimage to Fatima in May. Others will be going as well, including this woman.  He only first met her last May. Should I do something about it now or should I wait? I am so anxious about it that I have trouble even looking at him.  I want to save his priesthood.

Response

Are you on a family vacation? Because of heightened propriety, priests are intensely vulnerable to scandal. Given your age, family or not, there should be a chaperone and/or others on vacation with you. You say that the two of you are close but then note that he is “sneaky” and lies to you. Is this negative judgment based upon the phone call you overheard? Priests are normal men who are pledged to celibate love and service. This does not mean that they write off friendships with half of the human race. We do not want priests in ministry who hate women. Might you be presumptuous of a few words of friendship or innocent love spoken over the phone? If they were having an affair, it seems unlikely to me that they would select a pilgrimage to Fatima as an opportunity for an illicit encounter. Given how you are affected, it is probably necessary for you to sit down with him to clear the air. Apologize first for invading his privacy. Next, share what is troubling you. You may find that you have misinterpreted the situation. If there is a problem, then it will wake him up and he can take steps to distance himself from the woman. Hopefully he will do what is right. Keep confidentiality and forgive him for being a flawed human being, as we are all weak and sinners. Ultimately, you cannot fix his priesthood. Only he can do that… by God’s grace.

Praying for a Wayward Son

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My wife and I pray daily.  Our son’s safety especially consumes our prayers.  Despite our prayers, last night he was arrested.  He is out on bail but refuses to accept God into his heart. He argues that God is not real. I feel that I have somehow let him down.  Maybe I did not do enough to raise him right?  Maybe I should have prayed harder?  I feel empty. He is twenty-two years old and this is his second drug arrest.

Response

Do not blame yourselves. I suspect he would have been arrested anyway, no matter how many prayers you offered. God hears our prayers but when it comes to others, they must be disposed or open to God’s grace and help. Keep praying for his conversion. Let him know that you will always love him. Do not despair. God’s providence is mysterious. We cannot know what the future holds. Hopefully, the day will come when your son will turn to the Lord and amend his life. Right now, he may not believe in God but let him see and know the “reality” of your love for him.

Disassociation from the Family

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I have been married for thirteen years and love my husband very much.  Nevertheless, I feel that he has given up on me and the family.  His work consumes him and he hardly spends any time with the family.  He has stopped going to Mass and refuses to have anything to do with Mass.  He says he loves me but his actions fail to show it.  I would like your advice.

Response

Has he explained why he sees no value in the Mass? It sounds as if something has happened that has turned him off to it. Often changes in practice are due to anger or to a loss of faith or because something has happened that clashes with the values of the Gospel and brings unwanted guilt. You mention it within the context of his disassociation from the family and his failure to express his love to you.  Dialogue with him about the situation is the first course.  It appears that there may be a secret eating away at him.  Lacking details I am fearful of suggesting various possibilities, but I am sure that you have speculated yourself about what might have caused this change.  Answers might not be forthcoming. Would he be resistant to counseling? Marriages should be happy and nurturing. Unfortunately, something can happen to change that. Continue to love him and to be faithful, even if you have to carry a cross in the relationship. The obligations of marriage always mean sacrifice and sometimes weigh heavier upon one spouse than another. I knew one woman who loved her husband even though he showed little feeling and few gestures of tenderness and intimacy. She gave 100% and he maybe gave 10%. He worked and provided for the family— but he was cold. He refused to change but she never gave up on him. Returning to your situation, I will keep you, your family and your husband in prayer.

Spousal Corporal Punishment?

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Does the Church believe in husbands disciplining their wives? In other words, are they permitted to exact corporal punishment as a domestic discipline?

Response

Spouses are adults and should treat each other with an abiding respect. Corporal punishment is not an element of the husband’s marital headship. They are partners in life and in the pursuit of holiness. There is an equality of grace that must be respected. Past practices in various cultures (even Christian ones) did not always respect the woman’s rights and gifts. Spouses should dialogue and, if need be, correct each other. But while an argument can be made for a gentle spanking of a child, such is inappropriate toward an adult spouse. There is mutuality between the head and the heart of the home. The husband should have a protective and nurturing love for his wife. Similarly, the wife as spouse and mother constitutes in her person the very source of the home they share. They belong to each other.

The question here is really about the wrong of spousal abuse.  It is seriously wrong and criminal.