Year of Youth 2018

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Relationship

A Xt3 Member asked at 5:10am on September 5th 2018
Hello Father.

I need an opinion from the church. I have some doubts that I had a relationship with a pentecostal charismatic girl.

I have loved her but in the end, it was hard to put an end to our relationship because they teached heresy that the Holy Spirit manifests itself in laughing, screaming and animal noises, and she said to join their movement.

Well I have read the holy scripture that Jesus Christ has made a single church and their manifestation is demonic. But if we have been in seperate religions, I have been in mortal sin (meaning living with a person that accept heresies)

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Hi Atilla, in an earlier question of yours I mentioned chapter 14 of St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, where he speaks of the gift of tongues-but at the end of chapter 12 of the same letter, having just mentioned the various gifts in the Church, including the gift of tongues, he says he's going to speak of 'a more excellent way,' which is that of love-the famous 'hymn to love' of chapter 13.

I don't think you committed a sin because your girlfriend was a Pentecostal charismatic, since it doesn't sound as if you accepted to share in her beliefs. I'm not sure from what you write whether you were living with her in a physical way or were just friends. Obviously it's only in marriage that a couple can live as a married couple, so if-and please forgive me if I'm misunderstanding you-you were doing so, then of course that would have been mortally sinful and you should mention this in the sacrament of confession. The priest will give you God's forgiveness and you can make a whole new start to your life.

Keeping you in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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Is it immoral to purchase products that test on animals?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:49pm on September 9th 2018
Especially if they are not necessarily for our care and saving of human lives like cosmetics and shampoo, even household cleaning supplies? I have read that even a chocolcate company is doing tests on animals. Must we avoid them or can we buy from them since our cooperation is remote? Or must we buy alternatives and boycott those companies. Although I read in some of the comapny's websites that they are trying to reduce it and find alternatives and that they do it when required by law and when it's necessary.

I can't find an answer anywhere whether or not this is a sin. it has been bothering me a lot and would like an answer. thanks.

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Hi Karen, here's one of the most recent Church statements on animal testing, where in paragraph 130 of his encyclical letter on ecology, Laudato Sii, Pope Francis wrote:

While human intervention on plants and animals is permissible when it pertains to the necessities of human life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that experimentation on animals is morally acceptable only "if it remains within reasonable limits [and] contributes to caring for or saving human lives".[106] The Catechism firmly states that human power has limits and that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly".[107] All such use and experimentation "requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation". [108]

Most of us haven't a clue as to whether products we're buying have been developed by means of animal testing, but because people have been questioning animal testing for beauty products, there have been a range of these goods which explicitly say that animal testing wasn't involved in producing them. So if you have a choice, it'd be better to use those products.

I don't think we can speak of sin whether or not you use these products, since as you say, a person's cooperation in the wrong of unnecessary animal experimentation is pretty remote, but the more people protest about this abuse and boycott those products, the quicker will producers find more ethical means of production.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Native american catholic. can i still practice medicinal witchcraft?

A Xt3 Member asked at 5:46pm on September 5th 2018
I am Native american and Aztec, I want to honor my backrounds, but i also want to keep jesus in my life. can i still practice witchcraft occasionally as long as i keep jesus first?

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Hi Emma, I've often thought of how the patron saint of my own country, Patrick, responded to the native Celtic customs he met there in the 400s. Since the High King lit a fire on the Hill of Tara to symbolise the coming of Spring, St Patrick lit a fire on the Hill of Slane, visible from Tara to celebrate Christ's Resurrection-which is one of the sources for our lighting of the New Fire during the Easter Vigil. What he was doing was taking elements of the pre-Christian culture and using them in the new context of Christian revelation. Isn't that always our task-to take up Jesus' statement when he said, 'Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them' (Mt 5:17)?

One of St John Paul II's most important addresses was the one he gave to Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in Alice Springs in 1986 (easily obtainable on the net). He quoted what Blessed Paul VI said to them in 1970:

We know that you have a life style proper to your own ethnic genius or culture - a culture which the Church respects and which she does not in any way ask you to renounce... Society itself is enriched by the presence of different cultural and ethnic elements. For us you and the values you represent are precious. We deeply respect your dignity and reiterate our deep affection for you.

And John Paul went on to say, as you've also wanted to do with your Aztec background:

Take heart from the fact that many of your languages are still spoken and that you still possess your ancient culture. You have kept your sense of brotherhood. If you stay closely united, you are like a tree standing in the middle of a bush-fire sweeping through the timber. The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred and burned; but inside the tree the sap is still flowing, and under the ground the roots are still strong. Like that tree you have endured the flames, and you still have the power to be reborn. The time for this rebirth is now!

And just as you said, about keeping Jesus in your life, he went on:

Jesus calls you to accept his words and his values into your own culture. To develop in this way will make you more than ever truly Aboriginal. The old ways can draw new life and strength from the Gospel. The message of Jesus Christ can lift up your lives to new heights, reinforce all your positive values and add many others, which only the Gospel in its originality proposes. Take this Gospel into your own language and way of speaking; let its spirit penetrate your communities and determine your behaviour towards each other, let it bring new strength to your stories and your ceremonies. Let the Gospel come into your hearts and renew your personal lives.

So there's the two aspects you mentioned, respect for your traditions and penetrating them with the Gospel. But, even before the New Testament, the Old Testament already warned the people of Israel to have nothing to do with witchcraft (the clearest example is the story about King Solomon's meeting with the Witch of Endor in the First Book of Samuel, chapter 28. The trouble with any kind of witchcraft is that we're involving evil spirits who are much more powerful than we are, and once they get a hold on our lives, they can be terribly difficult to get rid of.

Even though the revelation of the Old Testament was God's plan to prepare the people of Israel for the coming of his Son, some among the Chosen People made bad choices and developed customs that Jesus had to reject. So some of the more obvious Aztec customs we know, like cutting out the hearts of enemies, had to give way to Christianity. Maybe St Juan Diego's beautiful encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe, who spoke to him in the Aztec Nahuatl language, is the best example of this drawing on both Aztec and Christian culture. When Juan Diego, worried his uncle was dying, had delayed a promised meeting with her, she came to meet him and tell him his uncle was cured, saying: 'Am I not here, I who am your mother?' I'd advise always turning to her, since you are one of her beloved Aztec children. Very best, Fr Brendan
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NFP while breastfeeding

A Xt3 Member asked at 5:41am on August 31st 2018
First of all, sorry for my English. I'll try to do my best to make myself clear.

The thing is: we understand women's cycles and how to abstain during the fertile windows. But what about the breastfeeding time? It is very common not to have an ovulation and being infertile while breatsfeeding. But when ovulation comes for the first time after birth it's tricky to know the exact time you have to abstain. And it takes some months to be regular again. Should we ban sex of our lives until the regular cycles are back??? It's also dangerous getting pregnant very soon after birth (we already had a miscarrige, because I got pregnant on the first ovulation 6 months after giving birth and my body was not prepared). Now, after my third pregnancy (second child alive) we would like to wait some time to get pregnant again. NFP cant be applied in this case and we dont know what to do.

My second question is: Is the withdrawal from coitus accepted by the church? Which is the moral difference between the withdrawal and condoms?



Thanks!

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Hi Mag, your English is great! I'm really sorry as I'm not an expert on the details of NFP and would hate to be giving you wrong advice in this difficult matter. I think the best thing for you to do is to have a face to face meeting with a female NFP expert - I'm sure many women have had similar difficulties and she should be able to talk you through whatever is recommended in a situation like yours. She may be able to tell you about a method in tune with the Church's teaching that can help to regularize your cycles including during breastfeeding. My mother, who breastfed us all, had several miscarriages too and hope you can find a good solution.

Before going into detail on your second question, just a few Sundays ago you'll remember we had the reading from St Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. There, having said to husbands and wives, 'be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,' he goes on to remind us that both belong to the Body of Christ, both are Jesus, and, comparing it to the self-sacrificing love of Christ for the Church, and calls the vowed relationship of marriage 'a great mystery' (Eph 5: 21&32).

It's in this Trinitarian context that St John Paul explained (in his Theology of the Body, S123 & 124) how the act of marriage expresses both the love of the spouses for each other in an act that's never separated from its potential fruitfulness. If this separation happens by withdrawal or the use of a condom (morally there's no difference between them), by their misuse of 'the language of the body' the spouses would effectively be lying to their own true nature and to each other. I'm certain that in your difficult situation Jesus will give you both his grace and support, including in carrying the cross that all true love forces us to carry from time to time. That support will come through his presence among you in the sacrament of marriage and especially in the Eucharist, the celebration of the great mystery of the love of Jesus for us through his death and resurrection. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Dying

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 8:58am on August 28th 2018
All human beings will die at some point. Is it a sin if I ask God to let me die sooner rather than later?

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Hi Laura, I think the best answer to your question can be found in Jesus' own attitude to his death - as man, he feared death, and yet as the Son of the Father, completely open to his Father's will, he prayed, 'Father...let not my will but yours be done' (Lk 22:42). If you make Jesus' prayer your own, you're opening your life to God's will, and then you can be sure you're on the right way. I've quoted before what Blessed Chiara Badano's version of this prayer. Undergoing great suffering, at 18, from the bone cancer she knew would kill her very soon, she used to pray: 'If you want it, [Jesus], I want it too.' Let me assure you of my own prayer for you too, in any difficulties and pain you may be going through, very best, Fr Brendan
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contacting pope francis

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 4:03am on August 28th 2018
dear fr.



i would just like to ask how can i possibly contact pope francis via email?

that's all thank you so much

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Hi Princess R, since you can imagine hundreds of letters to the Pope arrive every day, if you want him or his assistants to read your letter, it's recommended that you keep your letter short. And of course show the Pope the respect of his office by writing to him as ‘Your Holiness.' Also, if you'd like a reply, include your address and phone number. Here's the address for writing to him:

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

Vatican City is a country on its own, so that's enough, and the postage will be the same as postage to Europe. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Struggling to Pray: Distracted and/or Lazy

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 7:00pm on August 25th 2018
Hi Father,

I have been struggling to pray for a while now. This becomes a daily struggle as whenever I go to pray, I daydream, get distracted and sometimes don't even want to. I feel terrible about this and end up confessing this every time but after I do, I make the exact same mistakes of distracting myself and saying "I'll do so and so first then I'll pray" but never doing it.

Its no doubt in God or the church or anything like that, it seems like I have no motivation or desire to pray while at the same time I do want to. I know this sounds very lazy of me seeing as prayer can even be just 5 minutes before sleep but even this becomes difficult for me because I just want to do other things or I start planning the next day instead.

Could you give me some advice on how to deal with this? I basically always feel troubled about this because I find it so hard to focus and when this negligance of prayer is about to happen, I can see it from a mile away but I don't do anything to stop it, its like I'm programmed to do the exact same thing every time. That is what troubles me even more, I know the problem, I see it and I have ideas on what to do about it but I just don't.

Please help. Thank you Father.

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Hi Miguel, what you're experiencing with difficulty in prayer isn't just you-it's most of us, at one time or another! That's why short prayers-shorter even than most tweets-have been used by Catholics for centuries. Take that little prayer revealed by Our Lady to the children at Fatima, 'O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and bring all souls to heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.' Then there's the prayer said by many Orthodox Christians-we can surely say it too: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

Obviously you could try saying just one decade of the Rosary, or-one of my favourites, the Stations of the Cross. Often on long trips-by Irish, not Australian standards!-I'd take my time praying about each station, sometimes thinking of them in terms of Mary, sometimes as Jesus, sometimes for the sufferings the Church is going through at the moment-so many variations are possible.

Advice I've given here from time to time is that the most important moment in my prayer is that the most important element in our prayer is to connect with whomever I'm praying to-if I'm saying the Morning Offering, it's you, Jesus, I'm speaking to, if the Our Father, I'm speaking to you, Father, if the Hail Mary, I'm speaking to you, Mary, if the Glory be, I'm speaking to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

A way of understanding my own distractions is, to imagine someone, while chatting to me is also looking at their mobile at the same time. You can feel a bit insulted by their lack of attention. Well, like you, a lot of my praying-even though I'm too old fashioned to be bothered using a mobile, or do my best not to-is as if I were looking at my phone rather than at Jesus, Mary, the Trinity, and so on. So I have to keep waking my faith up to get in contact again.

No one said that praying is easy: when I started my first year in the seminary, it felt as if I were lifted up onto Cloud Nine, but after that first year, way back in 1960-61, I almost never feel anything. That brings me closer to Jesus' own huge suffering at prayer, when he cried out, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' I think he wants us to be with him at that moment, unable to pray, and still pushing ourselves to say, in Him, to our Father, 'Into your hands I entrust my spirit.' Or with those who follow St Faustina's Divine Mercy prayer, 'Jesus, I trust in you.' I think the more we're like little children, barely able to say a word, the nearer we are to that prayer of Jesus. And of course the best preparation for meeting Jesus in prayer is making the effort to find him in whoever our neighbour happens to be at the time. Hope that's a bit of help, very best, Fr Brendan
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Monarchy

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:06pm on August 16th 2018
What does the Catholic Church teaches on monarchy? Also, what does the church teach on divine right of kings, coronation ceremony and anointing of kings?.

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Hi Olamide, Christ taught us very clearly, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's' (Mt 22:21). St Peter wrote, clearly separating our political from our religious duties, 'Fear God. Honour the emperor' (1 Pt 2:17). In Chapter 13 of St Paul's Letter to the Romans, he begins by saying-since some Christians were making the mistake of thinking they could do what they liked, independent of the political situation they found themselves in: 'Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God' (Rm 13:1).

This isn't all that different from what Jesus said to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate: 'You would have no power over me unless it had been given to you from above' (Jn 19:11). Of course this doesn't mean Christians are bound to obey unjust laws (like those permitting abortion or euthanasia), or those of an evil ruler like Hitler or Stalin, insofar as they went against morality. That's why St Paul goes on to give the context that obliges Christians: 'Owe no one anything, except to love one another' (Rm 13:8), and the further context, that our time on earth is limited, 'For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed' (Rm 13: 11).

The whole history of the Jewish people showed how their kings were under God, not gods, as the rulers of the great empires around them claimed for themselves. And in the light of Christ's teaching, no Christian king could claim to be above the law of God. The whole development of, for example, English Common Law was based on this principle. Just to take one example, Henry of Bracton (1210-1268) wrote that 'the king himself out not to be under man but under God, and under the law, because the law makes the king.' And he takes the example of Christ, who 'was willing to be under the Law, "that he might redeem those who were under the Law."' Some profoundly misguided monarchs like James the VIth of Scotland and 1st of England claimed this 'divine right of kings' but it has no basis in English law, and course the 20th century has seen various 'empires' claiming total control of their subjects, in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, present day Communist China, North Korea, not to forget numerous tinpot rulers like President Maduro in Venezuela, and I'm sure you could add a few more to that list.

So, the Church, right from the time of Christ, while it may sometimes have become uncomfortably close to endorsing this or that time of regime, monarchic, oligarchic, republican, whatever, its basic aim is to help its followers to live the Gospel, and this can happen in most political setups.

Whatever ceremonies that get attached to those who happen to be in power, like the coronation and anointing that occur in the British monarchic system, or the inauguration of the US or Russian President, belong to those countries' traditions and have their own value, in some cases accepting a religious aspect to political power. But the Church isn't tied as such to any political structure, asking only that it be run honestly and justly for the sake of the good of all the country's citizens. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Marriage

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:03pm on August 16th 2018
Why is marriage a mystic union? . At what point in ceremony did the two become married?. How did the man and woman truly became one?. Is sexual intercourse the main element or the marriage itself?.

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Hi again, Olamide. Just last Sunday we had that beautiful reading from Chapter 5 of St Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, where he compares the love of husband and wife to the love of Christ for the Church. And of course the presence of Jesus at the wedding in Cana has traditionally been understood as anticipating his presence in every Christian marriage. I think if you check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church (easily available online), you'll find an indication of its mystical depth:

In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass, because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ. In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realised, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself for ever to the Church, his beloved bride for whom he gave himself up. It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but 'one body' in Christ (1621).

But the whole section on marriage there is well worth reading, 1601 - 1666, where you'll find more beautiful reflections on how marriage belongs closely to God's plan for humanity, an expression of his Covenant or promised relationship with us. The Catechism also points out that the actual Sacrament of Marriage comes about in and through the spouses' mutual declaration of consent-it's good to remember that the priest or deacon present at their wedding is only there as a witness for the Church. It's the couple themselves that confer that sacrament of Matrimony on each other at that moment.

Only if, for whatever reason-since marriage includes openness to having children within that relationship-sexual intercourse does not take place over a certain time, there could be grounds for an annulment of the marriage. However, that's a discussion for another time, since there are so many other factors that may be involved here. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Tongues

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 11:56am on August 11th 2018
Hello i am interested to build my faith i have a question that pentecostals are speaking in tongues that no one can understand even they don't understand them self and they say this is the gift that every people must receive to be saved. My opinion this is heresy because Paul sayd that even we speak tongues everyone must be build or be edified the whole church be in one faith but they simple edifie them self. I have asked about a priest he sayd that the carismatic gift its from God and this kind of tongue speaking its legal in the church because its a private pray i understand that God today make miracles but to accept that this non sense tongue speaking to be worthy i am confused.

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Hi Attila, as you say, St Paul several times questions the usefulness to others of speaking in tongues-as you know, he has a whole long chapter on this topic, 1 Corinthians, chapter 14. There he says: 'one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit' (14:2). A bit further down he says: 'if you in a tongue utter a speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said?' (14:9; and see verses 16-17). He also warns that if strangers come to the church and hear people speaking in tongues, 'will they not say you are mad? (14:23). And goes on to say that 'God is not a God of confusion but of peace' (14:33), and finishes the chapter with; 'do not forbid speaking in tongues, but all things should be done decently and in order' (14: 39-40).

You can find St Paul's advice still followed by the Church in our own times, in the different but not completely unrelated situation where people claim to have received private messages from God. The Church is always cautious with these, and often only after a long time makes a decision on whether these can be accepted as private revelations that others in the Church can share in-as for example with what is claimed by those called the 'seers' of Medjugorje. The Church has the responsibility before God to guide the faithful and protect them from false claims. But as we know from the children of Fatima-two of them recently declared saints-and St Bernadette of Lourdes, the Church also must be open to whatever messages may come, testing them carefully, and only then allowing the faithful to share in those accepted as genuine. Very best, Fr Brendan
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