Year of Youth 2018

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Not being able to receive communion due to an illness

in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 4:49am on June 11th 2018
Hi Father,

My dad suffers from Motor Neuron Disease and one of the effects this disease has had on him is that he can no longer eat/chew/swallow anything. He is on a special diet which he gets through a PEG tube. As a result, for the past year he hasn't been able to go to communion. He's also up most of the night as he cant sleep due to other probelms which means he's also been missing mass a lot.

All this makes me very anxious and I'm scared for him. I believe that God is compassionate and loving and I trust in His mercy.. I can't really express my question but I guess I wanted to know what you think of this?

Thank you so much for answering all our questions,


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Hi Heidi, that's so sad regarding your poor father--I wondered when I read your question first, if he could receive even a little sip of the Precious Blood, but if he can't swallow, that wouldn't be possible.

But when you think that no one participated at Mass more than Mary standing beside her dying Son Jesus on Calvary. She didn't receive the Eucharist then-as surely she did for the rest of her life in the care of St John-but was so inwardly united with him on the Cross, that her Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus were one.

Chiara Lubich in a meditation wrote that 'in life we can do many things, say many words, but the voice of suffering, maybe unheard or unknown to others, is the most powerful word, the one that pierces heaven. If you suffer, immerse your pain in his: say your Mass.' At times, and that's surely true for your father, who's saying his Mass. He can't offer, only suffer, so that he's a living tabernacle, where his spiritual communion by desire is bringing him Jesus ever moment. I remember a German priest friend of mine telling him how his sister, who'd lived a life dedicated to God and to her neighbour, when she lay dying, fed by a drip, would say at each drop of fluid, 'for you [Jesus], for you, for you...'

And when you're visiting your father, remember Jesus' promise, 'where two or three are gathered in my name [that is, in his love, ready to die for each other], there am I in the midst of them' (Mt 18:20). That's another presence of Jesus, different from the Eucharistic presence, but still a real presence of Jesus your midst. And of course, Jesus is in your father especially in his forsakenness-at times he must feel, as Jesus felt on the Cross, 'my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' And with your loving support, knowing Jesus is present in his suffering more than anywhere else, he can say with Jesus, 'into your hands I entrust my spirit.'

Assuring you of my prayers for your father and yourself, very best, Fr Brendan
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in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 10:23pm on June 8th 2018
Hi Father. Something that has always weighed heavily on me is the last judgement. I go to Mass most every day. I do the first Friday and first Saturday devotions, pray the rosary every day, and visit the Blessed Sacrament for 1 hour + usually every day. I go to cofession once a week. Anyway, after all that bragging, I still don't know what to do about the works of mercy. I am retired on SS and so I don't have that much freedom to go places. I have no idea how to feed the hungry, clothe the naked or visit the sick and imprisoned etc. except maybe an ocassional opportunity. I have heard many homilies about the devotional life being useless without these things, but I really don't know what to do. I know we are not supposed to be discouraged, but some things get to me and leave me defeated. I recently heard a homily on the net from a priest who said that if you don't literally sing praises to Jesus every day eg. in the shower, in the car, you are probably not going to make it. Whatever happened to ''if you love me, you will obey my commandments''? I have nothing against enthusiasm, but I don't think it's a virtue, particularly if it's manufactured. I will keep praying about it and would like to hear your input. Thanks for listening.

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Hi Joseph, two of my favourite quotes are from St John of the Cross are: 'Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.' And: 'In the evening of our life we'll be examined on love.' I think St John of the Cross was working on the questions told us we'll be asked in that evening of our lives, 'whatever you did to the least of my brothers (and sisters) you did it to me.'

That 'me' is simply the people we happen to meet every day-at home, in the church, on the road, in the shop, even the people we see on TV, caught up in wars, disasters, accidents-many planes that fly from Sydney airport go past my window, and when I think if it, I pray for the passengers too! So that's how I'd understand 'singing the praises of Jesus every day'-that each moment is a chance to love. At 76, when I kneel beside my bed in the morning, not particularly looking forward even to the chore of washing and shaving myself, I remind myself: thank God I'm still alive, thank God I've still another day left to love!

And even if I forget all about that, as I often do, I try to start again to love as soon as I remember it. Seems to me you're already well on the way. The more we get used to seeing Jesus in all our neighbours, the quicker we'll recognize him as soon as our time comes to pass into eternal life-Jesus said even a cup of cold water given in his name would be enough.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Staying focused

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 3:12pm on June 6th 2018
I am not a Catholic yet. I start RCIA this coming Sunday. Which, I might add, I am so excited about! I have been studying Catholicism for the past few months and I go to Mass every Sunday. I am trying my hardest to do what Jesus wants. However, I have been going through some severe emotionally charged issues in my life. Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me. Prayer and biblical focus totally get away from me. Any suggestions?

Thank you for reading this!

Many blessing to you!

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Hi Anna, congratulations on your preparation for becoming a Catholic! And for doing your hardest to do what Jesus wants. The evening before he died, in the Garden of Gethsemane, his prayer to his Father was to somehow avoid the suffering he was about to go through the next day, but underlying that was his deeper prayer, 'Let not my will, but yours be done' (Mt 26:39). Then on the Cross, he cried out, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' One way many people find helpful is to see each negative moment in our lives as a 'face' or expression of Jesus' own experience of helplessness and being out of control. It's as if he were playing 'hide and seek' with us, because if we try to somehow see him in that negative experience, we find that we find him there, in our failure, even in our sin.

St Paul tells us that 'in everything God works for good, with those who love him' (Rm 8:28), and most encouragingly, based on his own experience, St Augustine adds, 'yes, in everything, even our sins.' So even when you feel you've lost it, you can say, yes, Jesus, on the Cross, you lost it too, and yet you were still Jesus, so in my failure, I can unite myself with you-for who could be a greater Failure than the God-Man who feels at that moment that he's lost God? Then, like Jesus on the Cross, we start again to love. Being a Christian isn't being perfect, isn't never having lost it, but being ready to start again. Last week at a meeting, having prayed before it to help bring about peace, I lost it and strongly criticized what I felt was a very unfair process. Wished I'd been more measured of course! But as soon as the meeting was over, I went over to the member who I'd been disagreeing with and apologized.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 5:41pm on June 4th 2018
Hi Father I am an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, having been enrolled by Cardinal Pell in late 1990 or early 2000 at St Mary's Cathedral.

I have been ministering at Berala on the Park Nursing Faciity in Berala for approx. 15 years, every Sunday morning.

I spend approx. 3 hours visiting EVERY person who appears to want to receive, or just wants a"chat".

During that time I have made NO distinction between Catholic and NON Catholic inmates or visitors who express a desire to receive the Eucharist.My PP said to me "If they ask, Give"

Page 17 0f this weeks Catholic Weekly has an article which gives me cause for concern.Former Adviser to TWO Popes says this attitude of mine IS/COULD/MAYBE? a potential sin.

Will you please advise your interpretation of this article.

If you agree ,or if it is just fluff ,can you advise how I extricate myself from the UNWORTHY??? clientile to whom I have been ministering for all this time, and still would visit as personal friends.

Thank you for your advice to me and to others through this column.

My prayers are with you.


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Hi Frank, first of all congrats on your terrific work for your service to everyone in Berala on the Park as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister!

The Church is very clear that the Eucharist is only to be given to Catholics (and to members of the various Orthodox and Oriental Churches) provided they're in the state of grace. The reason why we don't give the Eucharist to members of the various Protestant Churches, including Anglicans, is that their Churches don't have the same belief about the Eucharist that we share with the Orthodox Churches. I'm sure you needn't worry about having committed a sin in what you've been doing, since you did it in good faith, and your parish priest also encouraged you to do so.

But neither are those non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Christians in the Berala Nursing Facility 'unworthy'! It's just due to the tragic events around the Reformation, when one of the principal reasons for the various Protestant denominations breaking away from the Church was their refusing to accept the Real Presence of Jesus, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in each consecrated host, a belief protected by the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

What to do when you're on your rounds in future? First, it's good to remind ourselves that Jesus is present to us in many ways other than the Eucharist-in every neighbour, in prayer, in the community of those united in his name (Mt 18:20), in his Word, and especially in suffering. I'd suggest that you say a short prayer with each of these non-Catholic Christians, like the Our Father/Lord's Prayer, and read a few lines of scripture, maybe taken from the Gospel of the day. That way, they won't feel you're ignoring them or passing them by, but really giving them Christian support.

Hope that's a help, very best, Fr Brendan
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Temptation or sin?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 10:27am on June 2nd 2018
Hello, Father, I've got one question regarding sinful thoughts...let's say for example one person is nervous/angry/upset with another person and pops into her head ugly angry thoughts. As soon as she realises she's having a sinful thought, she tries to stop the thought. Did the person commit a mortal sin? I'm having intrusive thoughts and I'm not really sure if I consented to them, they come in different times, when I'm calm, happy, but specially when sad/frustrated or angry (because it seems like I provoked it) and it makes it harder to determine if I consented or not, because sometimes my mind wanders for some seconds until I realise it and try to stop. I think I'm always in doubt if a thought is a temptation or a sin, and I'm always afraid to assume it wasn't a mortal sin and stay in danger of condemnation. Also, sorry in advance for these scrupulous questions I sometimes post here, and thanks for the amazing help and spiritual direction always.

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Hi Maria, nothing of what you've said there qualifies as a mortal sin! For starters, our imagination isn't under our control, all we can do with it is to try to steer it away from, say, angry thoughts. What really matters is our will, and once we spot that our thoughts are going in the wrong direction, we can say, no, I don't want to go there, and it's always useful to add in a little prayer, like the Holy Name of Jesus or of Mary-and maybe ask them, as so many of the Psalms to, to help me, please, now!

Just to remind ourselves, for a sin to be mortal, you have to have seriousness of matter (that is, something which in itself would be a mortal sin, and certainly nothing you've mentioned comes up to that standard), full knowledge that it is a mortal sin, and full consent to committing that mortal sin. Having seen Ocean's 8 with a few friends yesterday, you could say that the 8 (great!) scheming bank robbers qualified in all three respects.

Very best, keeping you in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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Beauty and ugly

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:58pm on May 28th 2018
Why God made some people very beautiful and some very ugly?This is very unfair,the beautiful ones are way more favorized,earn more money,more succesfull careers,and the most important they have the chance to be loved by the one they love,they can pick as much partners as they wish while if you are ugly you are discriminated,some don't even give you a chance before getting to know you and being ugly make impossible to find a partner,to be loved by the one you love,that is just impossible if you are ugly.Beauty doesn't come from inside,it can be a bonus but no one will want to be your partner if you are ugly even if you are "beautiful inside" no one looks at that when it comes up to choosing a partner.If you are beautiful your life is awesome,if you are ugly your life sucks,you will be probably alone forever or with someone you don't like because you can't choose and go for the one you like,you have to accept anything because there probably wont be a second chance.I don't see the point living as an ugly,is no point,no pleasure in life,life is horrible.

Beauty is not in the eye of beholder,only in cases like (for instance)1 guy looks 8 and the other 9 and the first one got blue eyes and the girl like more boys with blue eyes so she will go for him.but in case you look 4 as grade or 2 then there is no hope.

Some say God doesn't make ugly people,is the society which categorize people as beautiful and ugly ,but we are born with this attraction to the beautiful people,even baby have a bigger attraction to the beautiful than to the ugly ones,it is scientific proven that we are born with this and even in the bible are humans described by their physical appereance like Saul,David,Sarah,Rachel,Tamar...

They say God don't judge us on our physical appereance,ok right but in this life looks are everything,if you are ugly life is so bad,doomed do be alone,never have a family,life can't be compared to the ones that look good,their life is way better and happier.

Why is this unfairness allowed?Why can't we all be equal?There is no point in life being ugly,no way to build a family with the one you love,no way to be happy.Why I should live a life I do not enjoy?The beautiful ones can live a beautiful life here and in the other one aswell(if they do the right things...) while some of the ugly ones will have bad lives here and in the other one too and some will go to heaven if they can accept this unfairness and a so cruel life.

Thank you!

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Hi Zer0 Zero! There's no easy answer to all your questions, I'm afraid. One of my best friends was Eddie McCaffrey, born in Liverpool, England, then moved to Dublin, Ireland, where I lived for a lot of my life and where I met him. From seven years old, Eddie suffered from muscular dystrophy, and I got to know him when he was about 22. When he was in his late teens, feeing he had no future, he wouldn't let his mother take him to church anymore.

During a trip to Rome, because he was in a wheelchair, he and his mother Margaret were placed around the altar in St Peters, and after speaking to all the pilgrims there, Blessed Pope Paul VI spoke in English to Eddie, and urged him to be patient and keep joy in his heart. These words, personally said just to Eddie, left him and speechless, he never thought he'd get a 'private audience' with the Pope.

Eddie learned how to see Jesus suffering and forsaken on the Cross in all his own inabilities and frustrations. He could even write to Chiara Lubich, who'd founded the Work of Mary or Focolare Movement: 'Now I see my disability as a Gift from God!' Unable to attend meetings of the young people who shared their lives with him and each other, he said: 'Some of us have to be roots, and some of us have to be branches with a visible and active part. I have to be more "underground."' Quoting St Paul he said: 'God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise and has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.'

In my work at university in Dublin, I had a student who was severely depressed, and introduced him to Eddie, who really helped him. Once Eddie said of him, 'it's a pity he doesn't realize that you don't solve problems, you love them.' Eddie knew his own handicap couldn't be 'solved' - but by loving or accepting it from God, he'd actually left his handicap behind. That love meant the art of focusing on other people's problems so as to forget his own. On the same street as him lived a boy with a serious hump on his back that made it difficult for him to do things. Only after Eddie had died did we find a poem he'd written for that boy (and probably given him without anyone knowing), which he called: 'Courage on a bicycle.' He focused on others rather than on himself.

The real problem, that Eddie had more or less resolved, is to try to learn to see things the way Jesus does. That means I've got to really get to know him - through prayer, through the sacraments of confession and especially the Eucharist, and to find him in every neighbour I meet. By trying to love others, the more lovable I become, and the more lovable I become, the more likely it is that others will love me too. In the end, if people only love others on the basis of appearance rather than who they really are - and of course most of us find it hard to get beyond that level(!) - they aren't mature enough for a really deep relationship. So my prayer is that sooner or later you find someone who can go way beyond outer appearances to the eternal beauty of your inner self, where God, Infinite Love also dwells. Very best, Fr Brendan
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in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 3:38am on May 28th 2018
The rules for priest saying daily mass. Our priest is isolating the parish centre from the people and saying daily mass will not be said in the chapel. He said one reason is that when the other priest is saying daily mass he can be in the chapel saying mass on his own. I thought that a priest can't say mass by himself. Is this true or am I barking up the wrong tree.

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Hi Peter, not only can a priest say Mass by himself, but if he doesn't have a public Mass he's always recommended to say Mass on his own. This because every Mass is a renewal of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary and his Resurrection, and of course the Eucharist is Jesus' actual gift of himself to us at each Mass. Only once a fortnight do I say Mass on my own, and while I always prefer to say Mass with a congregation, who help me to pray, saying Mass on my own now and then helps me to pray the prayers with more attention. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Is Grinding a sin?

A Xt3 Member asked at 10:07pm on May 23rd 2018
There’s going to be a school dance soon and I know there’s gonna be a lot of grinding/twerking. I feel like it’s assimilated into our society now, it’s such a common thing. More directly related to my question is, is grinding a sin if you want to see if you and a girl have a connection, or is it a sin at all? Thank you and have a good day!

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Hi Ryan, whenever I'm asked is this or that a sin, I don't want to answer the question put in that way since it doesn't seem to be much use in training our consciences, where what's a 'sin' can come across as something imposed from outside like a police regulation on underage drinking!

Isn't it better to remember the only time Jesus referred to sexual immorality, when he said that 'every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart' (Mt 5:28). As St John Paul II explains, 'heart' means the full depth of the person as loved by God. Now God loves each one of us for our own sake, not at all for what he gets out of us (speaking for myself, I've been a dead loss, if I weigh my sins against any good I may have done, so I'm badly in need of God's mercy!).

The activities you mention seem more in the direction of mutual masturbation than expressions of the kind of self-sacrificing love for the other that Jesus is asking from us when he asks us to 'love one another as I have loved you' (Jn 13:34). That's the only genuine and Christian 'connection' we can have with anyone, and I'd say that we'd be only fooling ourselves if we thought that through the activities you mention we're actually connecting with another person at all. Rather, we're primarily aimed at 'connecting' with our own pleasure - which is certainly what we could call sinful. So why don't you be sure that whoever you dance with shares the vision of life Jesus has given us, because that way you're finding someone you could one day discover could be your partner in a lifelong marriage. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Cussing v. Cursing

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 1:29pm on May 22nd 2018
Is cussing a sin and is it different from cursing?

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These are just different ways of saying the same thing, I think.

I used to swear a lot when I was younger, until I realized that swearing was a bit like the way a peacock spreads his huge multicoloured feathers to make a big impression. I came to see that my using strong language was a kind of verbal violence, and that even the people I thought might be impressed by me in fact - even if they didn't say it at the time - ended up with a lower impression.

And I used to think that I couldn't help swearing, until I thought back and saw that not once did I ever let fly a bad word when my parents were around. In other words, I wasn't that out of control that I couldn't stop using bad language when I was afraid of what my folks would say to me if they heard me. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Types & Order of Mass

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 6:24pm on May 17th 2018
I was searching for a church to attend on a weekend away that I am planning and ofcourse did not want to miss out on Mass. I stumbled accross a church that had next to one of the Mass times "Ordinariate". Can you please explain what this is.

Also I would like to know why and how different Catholic churches will have different ways of celebrating Mass and what was the reason behind changing the Order of Mass.

God Bless! :)

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Hi Ann, the 'Ordinariate' is the name given by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to those Anglicans who wished to join the Catholic Church while remaining in their former Anglican parishes or communities. He was answering a request by Anglicans deeply upset by their own Church's allowing women priests as well as with its other liberalizing tendencies. Just as a bishop can be responsible for the military of a countrym wherever they're stationed, which is called a military ordinariate, so an Ordinariate of former Anglicans can cover a whole country, or as in North America, two countries, with a Bishop appointed by the Pope, responsible for all those in his area.

Benedict's response was Anglicanorum Coetibus (available on the net) which generously went further than anyone expected. Former Anglican priests and bishops who wish to serve in the Ordinariate are ordained as priests in the Catholic Church (since Anglican orders are not regarded as valid by the Catholic Church), and can then continue ministering as priests in the Ordinariate, including those already married, as many of those Anglican clergy joining the Ordinariate are. However, if former Anglican bishops have been married, after priestly ordination they cannot be accepted as bishops in the Ordinariate, since the longstanding tradition, not only in the Catholic Church but also in all the Orthodox Churches which have married clergy, is that bishops must be celibate. In England, the Ordinariate has Our Lady of Walsingham and Blessed John Henry Newman as patrons, in Australia, the Ordinariate is dedicated to Our Ladyof the Southern Cross and St Augustine of Canterbury, and in the United States and Canada it's known as the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, with some 44 parishes.

When they don't have their own churches, they're allowed to share existing Catholic churches, and non-Ordinariate Catholics are always allowed to attend their Eucharistic liturgies and receive the Eucharist there. They celebrate the Eucharist and the other sacraments, according to the liturgical rites proper to the Anglican tradition and approved by the Holy See. This is 'to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.' Personally, I've always loved the Anglican tradition of psalm-singing with the Myles Coverdale translation into chunky old style English and music that beautifully suits the language. I've no doubt they're a wonderful enrichment to the Catholic Church.

Your other question about the different ways Mass is celebrated in the Catholic Church may refer to the fact that the rite normally used was introduced with the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and it'd be a good idea to read the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (again, it's on the net) for the background to that renewal. Most people agree that not all the reforms after the Council were good ones, and those who strongly objected asked to be allowed to use the Latin Mass as laid down in the Missal of 1962. Pope Benedict XVI made it much easier for those wishing to celebrate the Latin Mass, and many churches, as does the church I'm attached to at St Mary's Cathedral Sydney, have a Latin Mass every Sunday for those who want it. Very best, Fr Brendan
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