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addiction

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 11:41pm on July 12th 2017
Good morning Father.I really want to know about "addiction diminish culpability".I have readed a lot of information about addiction or vice.For example,if i have a true addiction like watching pornography,does my addiction diminish or mitigate my culpability?but how the addiction can diminish my culpability even though we know that pornography is a grave matter?thanks and God bless.

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Hi Christopher, I'm afraid I have to say that I wouldn't approach this issue quite like that. The people I know who have overcome addictions all say the same two things: You have to throw yourself into God's hands, and you have to have zero tolerance - absolutely no half measures.

Let's take alcohol addiction: If, because I'm already an alcoholic, I crash into a pedestrian on a legitimate pedestrian crossing, my guilt isn't less because I'm an alcoholic - it's greater. Firstly, because I'm responsible for 'nursing' my addiction at an earlier stage, and secondly, because of that addiction, I should never have put myself behind the wheel of a car when I was drunk. And no matter what I'm addicted to - drink, drugs, or pornography - the cure is the same: zero tolerance. That involves the pain of going cold turkey, but people who want to reform take that on no matter how painful it is.

How does a Christian face into zero tolerance? By relying completely on God, maybe saying that prayer of Blessed John Henry Newman, "O my Lord Jesus, low as I am in Your all-holy sight, I am strong in You, strong through Your Immaculate Mother, through Your saints and thus I can do much for the Church, for the world, for all I love." Or, with Blessed Chiara Badano, "If you want it, Jesus, I want it too" - that was her prayer in great agony from bone cancer.

If you had a look at St Augustine's Confessions, where he tells the story of his own conversion (including from sexual sins), you'll find out how, thinking of the saints, he could say, if they can do it, why can't I? So, instead of depending on ourselves - who are never strong enough on our own to give up an addiction - we learn to be able not to be able to do anything on our own, but with St Paul, discover that 'I can do all things in him who strengthens me' (Phil 4:13). Very best, and keeping you in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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Is it a sin for a woman to wear men's clothes?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 5:13pm on July 10th 2017
Hi Father,
I am a woman and I like wearing guy's clothes.
When I was a girl I was always interested in activities that are traditionally pertain to males, such as playing sports and playing with robots and swords. I wore guy's clothes all my life and I don't want to wear women's clothes (mainly because I don't like things that are feminine). However I am not a lesbian, I had crush on several guys and if I am meant to be married, I want to marry a man. Although I wear guy's clothes I know that I am a woman and I have no problem with that. I also love Jesus and my church and I am also actively involved in liturgical ministry in my local parish.

Is it a sin for me to wear guy's clothing?

Thank you,

Jin

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Hi Jin, I generally have difficulty in answering a question in the form of, 'is it a sin' to do this or that. Because just saying yes or no doesn't get anywhere in terms of where a person is at.

Could I put your question in a different way? Before doing that, a very commonsense observation: for reasons I'm not qualified to explain, it seems that while women can wear men's clothing (uniforms, shirts, suits) without any sexual implications, it doesn't seem to work in the same way for men wearing women's clothing. It seems that many men derive sexual satisfaction for doing that.

So the way I'd re-phrase your question (obviously only you can answer this properly) is this: do I get any kind of sexual satisfaction for wearing men's clothes? If you don't, I guess it's not sinful for you, but I wouldn't generalize that for anyone else, since another woman just might be honestly able to say that she did, and if so, she certainly shouldn't wear men's clothing.

It's great you're looking forward to marrying a man, and given your commitment to Jesus and to your local church, you might think whether not dressing as a woman might make you less attractive to, say, an equally committed Catholic man. It'd be a pity to put the right person off because he had the wrong idea as to why you were dressing as a man. My very best prayers for you to meet the right guy soon! Very best, Fr Brendan
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Strange object after a patient died

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 7:57pm on June 30th 2017
I'm a nurse in a pediatric intensive care unit at a large hospital. This week a very sick baby who was about 6 months old died. I wasn't the nurse assigned to care for her that night but I have car d for her frequently and I think was working that night. She was very sick since birth and never left the hospital and came to us from the neonatal intensive care unit when she was two months old. She was DNR (do not resuscitate) and her mother and grandmother were at the bedside throughout the night and the entire family are was there in the evening and then came back after the baby died. I helped the nurse assigned to the pt bathe her and change her clothes after the baby died so that her sisters and other family members coming to hospital would see her dressed and looking the way they were used to. After that I was in the hallway outside her room when out of the corner of my eye I saw an object that appeared like a black thread. My first thought was that it was in my hair and when I looked in a mirror I couldn't see the object which I saw again before it disappeared. I didn't think it could be the baby's soul because I would expect it to be a white or gold color. What do you think I saw?

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Hi J. Jet, that's a very sad story about the death of that little baby, who received such care from you and your colleagues in the hospital. But her soul, like all human souls, is spiritual, immortal, will always exist before God, but isn't visible. Even our thoughts, which are activities of our soul, aren't visible - they don't show up even on the best kind of brain scan. So I'm not able to say what that thing you saw meant. But more importantly, the love you showed even to the dead body of that baby, was also invisible, though beautifully expressed in your washing and dressing her. Very best, Fr Brendan
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What is this word in this prayer referring to?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 3:07am on July 3rd 2017
Hi Father,

A common prayer before meals is "Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts which we have received from thy bounty." What does it mean to say that we have received the food from "thy bounty?"

Thanks

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Hi Ryan,

'Bounty' normally means having plenty of something, maybe even more than you need. So in that grace before meals we're thanking God for having, from His infinite resources, provided the food we are about to eat.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Can God command us to do evil?

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 2:18pm on July 1st 2017
Hello Father,

I was looking through a book called "Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties". I read the book of Joshua in the Bible and there were commands from God to kill women and children of other societies. In the book the author says one way to look at these commands is that because God is the author of all life, he can give and take away life even if they are innocent so perhaps he did this through the Israelites.

In most atheism vs theism debates, Christian debators often talk about God being all-good and how it would be against his nature to request evil acts from us because he is perfect. Moral truths exist because God is perfect goodness itself and so it would be impossible for him to sin or be evil by definition with common examples of moral truths given being killing innocent people, rape etc.

So my question would be, if it is objectively wrong to kill innocent people like children, how should I respond to this idea that God is sending the Israelites to commit an evil act? So, if God is all-good why would he send people to act in a way contrary to his nature?

Thanks for your help.

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Hi Miguel,

It's helpful to remember that the Bible isn't just one book, but a whole library of books, where the Old Testament is covering a period of about 1800 years, from Abraham on, through Moses, King David, the Prophets, the later Wisdom writings and so on. The story those various books tell is a gradual unfolding of God's plan for his people, where that unfolding is accompanied by the people of Israel - at least some of them - slowly growing in understanding and appreciation of that plan.

The people were chosen by God, but that choice didn't suddenly change them from being a tribal group with similar customs to the groups around them. Law, punishment for crime, and the rules of war, marriage, religious worship, and so on, took many centuries to move in the direction of the teaching of the great prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. It's not until those later writers, say from 700bc on, that you get a clear notion of individual responsibility, of marriage as between one man and one woman, and guilt as not determined by the action of members of the tribe in the past, but only by each one's own wrongdoing.

So I wouldn't be inclined to use the explanation given in Hard Sayings. Rather, just like the patriarchs having several wives, I'd see the rule of war in Joshua as expressing the normal slaughter that goes on among human beings (if you want equivalent slaughter among the 'highly civilized' Athenians slaughter of the inhabitants of the island of Melos (covered by Greek historian Thucydides) in 416bc, you can see how 'normal' that treatment of enemies was. God's patience extended to allowing the Chosen People gradually to see the implications of his covenant with them.

If you'd like modern examples of how slowly human beings respond, even to Christianity, think of William Wilberforce's struggle in then Christian England to have slavery abolished in 1807. And regarding war, St Augustine was the first to develop what's now called 'just war theory' in the 400s - and that was in light of Christ's teaching to love our enemies. He asked how a Christian can engage in war while following Christ's teaching. Summarizing what later was developed by St Thomas Aquinas, and much later, adopted in secular law from Grotius in the 1700s on, they taught in war you should never kill innocents, and only aim at preventing evil rather than at killing enemies. This means that legal agreements like the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war - often ignored even in our own times - come mostly from the New Testament and the teaching of Christ. It takes us human beings a long time to learn! Very best, Fr Brendan
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St Faustina's Stations of the Cross 12th Station

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 2:05am on June 23rd 2017
Hi Father

I try to walk the STATIONS with the help of St Faustina's Booklet. At the 12th Station the answer to her comment has got me puzzled. "Then I saw the Lord Jesus nailed on the Cross. After a while, I saw a multitide of souls crucified like Him. Then there was a second multitude that were not nailed to their Crosses, but were holding them firmly in their hands. A third multitude were neither nailed to their crosses nor holding them in their hands, but were dragging them behind them with discontent."

THIS IS WHAT I CAN'T GET MY HEAD AROUND.

"JESUS then said to me "Do you see these souls? Those who are like ME, suffering pain and contempt, will be like me in Glory."

They all seem to me to be suffering pain and contempt. I can't work out whitch ones are going to Heaven. They each seem to me to be in all categories.

Please Help.

Frank

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Hi Frank, at first glance it looks as if the first two multitudes are the ones that St Faustina has Jesus saying will be like him in glory - those both crucified like him and those holding their crosses firmly in their hands. Those discontentedly dragging their crosses look a bit like people who are rejecting their crosses, but still suffering. At the same time, Jesus tells us about the two brothers asked to help in the vineyard, where one of them at first refused, then relented and actually did help (Mt 21: 28 - 30).

So, taking St Faustina's 'Jesus, I trust in you' seriously, that could be applied to those, let's call them Grudging Crossbearers - maybe even they too have a change of heart, and turn into people like Simon of Cyrene who probably wasn't too happy when he was hijacked from the crowd to give Jesus a hand. The fact that the evangelists know Simon's name is an indication that he too became a willing follower of Christ. Very best, Fr Brendan
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I snuck into a pool

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 7:47pm on June 19th 2017
Yesterday I went with my friends and my girlfriend into my friends pool which was closed at the time because it was late at night. I felt bad before during and after it and I don't know if I have committed a grave sin and I'm trying to get over scrupulosity so I don't know if I'm in a state to receive the Eucharist I just want to know before I receive the Eucharist in the in the next morning because my priest is usually overloaded and it takes awhile for me to get a confession out of him. Was it was it bad what I did? Was it grave what I did? And when does not listening to your conscious become mortal or grave? Thank you so much

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Hi Talon, what you did was certainly not a mortal sin, but I wouldn't repeat what you did - better surely only to use that pool with your friend's permission, since trespassing on other people's property is against the law, and owners sometimes overreact to intruders out of fear they could be dangerous.

The three factors that help us judge whether something is seriously sinful or not are 1) is what I'm doing seriously wrong in itself? Your best bet here would be to have a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church (it's online), Part Three, Section Two, which covers the Ten Commandments. 2) Am I doing something that's seriously wrong with full knowledge of that fact? 3) Do I fully consent to doing what I know to be seriously wrong? Only if all three conditions are met can I be considered to have committed a mortal sin.

And to get back to your original question, merely trespassing on someone else's property isn't in itself seriously sinful, unless it included deliberate vandalism, or included an intention to steal from that property. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Same Sex Realationships

A Xt3 Member asked at 6:25pm on June 17th 2017
I'd like to ask if being in a relationship with the same sex is okay. I was recently in a relationship with a girl, and I find girls attractive. I want to know if this is okay. I've been hearing different things like it being okay or being bad and sinful. Please respond to me as soon as possible.



Thank you.

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Hi Katelyn, thanks for sharing your question.

It all depends on what you mean by relationship - if it's a normal friendship between two girls, there's surely nothing wrong with that. Girls have many things in common, and it's a relief to have a friend of the same sex who understands us without any sexual element coming in.

A sexual relationship between two people of the same sex is wrong for much the same reason as a sexual relationship outside marriage between two people of opposite sexes. It's the reason Jesus gives when he says, 'anyone looking at a woman lustfully commits adultery with her in his heart' (Mt 5:28). What 'lustfully' means here is, to love another not for themselves but for what I can get from them.

Jesus also says, 'I give you a new commandment, love one another as I have loved you' (Jn 13:34). In other words, for anyone who wants to follow Jesus, we're asked to love right up to the level of that 'as' - where for Jesus that meant, being ready to die for us. So a sexual relationship between two people of the same sex would be wrong since by its very nature it focuses on the sexual element. I'm sure you would like to follow Jesus, and his 'commandment' - which is really his appeal to our better nature, to love each other the way God loves us, that is, seeking nothing for ourselves, loving each other purely, that is, for their own sake. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Addiction

in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 2:50am on June 18th 2017
Hi Father.let say there is someone who has struggled with addiction of pornography in his whole life and is doing everything possible to overcome his addiction. He has been going to confession and has been praying daily for grace. One night he is very depressed and down and watch pornography that he had forgotten about in the house. He tries to fight the urge but gives in. Immediately afterwards he feels sorry and deep remorse. The next morning is Sunday and he tries to go to confession but cannot get to the priest in time. Should he go to Communion? Thanks n God bless

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Hi Christopher, for starters, it's great that person has been doing all he can to overcome his addiction, including praying regularly and going to confession.

In the case you mention, what I have always advised is for the person to make an act of contrition. We have to leave it to God to know whether that contrition is perfect, which would take away the sin. But even a less than perfect act of contrition helps to bring me back to God's grace. The Church has always taught that we must go to confession after a serious sin before receiving the Eucharist, and this goes back to the very earliest days of the Church - see St Paul, 'So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord' (1 Cor 11:27).

So the best thing would be to join the line at Mass of those receiving the Eucharist, and cross your hands on either shoulder, which most priests recognize as asking for a blessing. At the same time you can make a spiritual communion, asking Jesus to come into your soul. Not receiving the Eucharist bodily at that time shows Jesus great respect and love, but we should only receive after we have been absolved in confession from our serious sins. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Is this okay?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 6:18pm on June 17th 2017
I just want to know if doing spells are sinful. I'm not going to use any spells for evil, I just want to do a spell that will turn back time so I can redo something. I also want to try spells that could help people like create peace or help people mentally (like change their metal state from depressed to happy, angry to happy). Pleaase answer this as soon as possible?



Thank you.

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Hi Katelyn, doing any kind of spells is saying to God, I don't need you, I don't want you, I want a 'quicker' way to change things in this world.

No spell can turn back time, but God has given us a way to redo things that we're not happy about: first of all, if it was something morally wrong, we can tell God we're sorry, and be sure he'll hear our prayer. Then, especially if it was something seriously wrong, we should receive the sacrament of reconciliation by going to a priest, confessing our sins, and receiving God's forgiveness in the priest's absolving us of our sins.

To create peace, instead of spells (where you never know what evil spirit you may be calling on), remember that great tip from St John of the Cross: 'where there isn't love, put love, and you'll find love.' By being the first to love in difficult situations, not waiting for the other person or people to change, you're injecting God into the world right there. If people are angry, sometimes you can try to find out why they're like that, and maybe if they've had a bad deal, you can see if you can help them get through that bad patch in their lives.

St Therese of Lisieux, not long before she died, said a prayer something like this: 'To love you, Jesus, I have only now.' If you try, each moment, to love, you're really being a revolutionary, bringing the Gospel into every corner of your life. Very best, Fr Brendan
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