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masturbation

A Xt3 Member asked at 1:21pm on May 15th 2017
Shalom Father.I've a question.Is masturbation always considered mortal sin?thanks n God bless

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Hi Christopher, yes, masturbation is mortally sinful since it's a misuse of one of one of the most sacred functions of our bodies. Already in the Old Testament it was condemned as seriously sinful in the actions of Onan, so it was also called the sin of onanism. When hearing confessions, I often spell out some tips for avoiding falling into this sin: i) to rely completely on God, saying, you God are everything, I am nothing. That's what St Paul meant when he said, 'when I am weak, then I am strong.' When I don't depend on being the great Apostle Paul, but only on you, God, then can I overcome this temptation. ii) Watch for one of the most common tricks the Devil uses with us. When we're being tempted he says, you might as well go on, you've already committed a sin! But one of the reasons Jesus allowed himself to be tempted by the devil for 40 days and nights was so that we'd recognize him, the Tempted One, with us in our temptation, and with him learn to overcome it. iii) Another tip: watch out for how we may try to fool ourselves, by letting in 'small' temptations without immediately resisting them. The devil can see that we want to have our cake and eat it--we want and don't want to sin at this moment. But by allowing these missed opportunities to pass us by (a bit like a player avoiding difficult tackles in some tough contact sport), we're signalling to him that we're not really focused on God. So those little compromises sooner or later lead us to slide into sin. Hope that's a help, very best, Fr Brendan
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filial fear and impassibility of God

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:37am on May 15th 2017
shalom Father.There is something i want to ask you.Just now i copied the meaning of filial fear from internet " when someone is deeply in love with God, loves God so much and has a true relationship with God, they just avoid causing hurt and wounds on anyone else and God".My question is when we do something that might hurt the other,does our sin hurt God too?If we say "God hurts when we sin" that means God also has an emotion like us and God is not impassible.I'm sorry if i ask this question again because i still confuse.thanks and God bless

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Hi Christopher, the short answer is that as God, Jesus can't suffer, but as the Incarnate Word he certainly did suffer when he was on earth. He wept over Jerusalem, and surely in Gethsemane and on the Cross, all the evil and sin that was or ever will be committed by us humans caused him great suffering. In the Creeds, when I say that I believe that the One I call 'God from God,' was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man (I'm typing this in Rome airport so don't have any backup docs handy, so quote from my totally useless memory), we keep on saying that he suffered under Pontius Pilate--it's the same 'he.' the Second Person of the Trinity, who suffers, dies on the Cross and rises from the dead. So certainly, Jesus, God and Man, suffers. And all those saints who have had special experiences of the Heart of Jesus--including St Margaret Mary Alacoque, and St Faustina, will testify to this suffering of Jesus for our sins. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Bingo

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:26am on May 11th 2017
What is the Church's stance on parish using Bingo for fundraising?

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Hi Anthony, the Catholic Church, unlike some Protestant Churches, has never condemned moderate gambling, which only becomes sinful when someone uses say, their wages that are needed for their family's upkeep. And of course, gambling can become addictive, sometimes leading to people stealing at work, and enormous waste of time, with avoidance of responsibilities. So the Church doesn't have any stance on bingo as a form of parish moneyraising. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Litany of our Lady

A Xt3 Member asked at 6:29pm on May 9th 2017
Hello Father
Am a leader of the catholic community at my college and one of the students asked me to explain statements such as "tower of ivory","house of gold" etc but I could figure out the answer. Help me

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Hi Ibwalingat, as I'm away from my books and other sources just now I'll do my best with your question: as far as I remember, all these phrases are used in the Litany of Loreto, so if you check that out on the internet you'll get some information on its history. But I think 'tower of ivory' is a name given to Israel, as the Spouse in the Song of Songs--again, you can check that out for yourself. 'House of Gold' may derive from one of Nero's palaces in Rome, near the Colosseum,which in Latin was called 'Domus Aurea.' Obviously, all these titles of Mary express the deep devotion to Mary, where just about every positive thing they could think of, they applied to her. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Couple obligations

A Xt3 Member asked at 8:23am on May 5th 2017
Hi

According to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church we should not deny our spouses intercourse if they so wish. But in the case when I feel tired, am I still obliged to satisfy my spouse? If one of the spouses does not feel like to have intercourse why should we oblige him or her? Does this not mean that to please one another one of the partners may be obliged to do things against his or her will? And if you deny your spouse sex is it a mortal sin that needs to be confessed?

Regards

James

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Hi James, I think the most important thing here is an open dialogue between the couple, so that each learns to respect the needs of the others. Certainly the marriage vow obliges each partner to live for the other, but many couples at their wedding ask for St Paul's hymn to love in 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul tells us that love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

That means the couple should have what's been called 'a pact of mercy,' where each is ready to show mercy to the other, which could include respecting the other's readiness for the act of marriage. If it turned out that one of the spouses wanted to refrain from this act for a long period of time, it might be an idea to call on a Catholic marriage counsellor to see what could be done. I don't think it's all that helpful to either spouse to bring up things like 'mortal sin' here, even though each spouse has a real obligation not to deny the other without serious reason. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Opinions about others

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 8:04am on May 5th 2017
Hi

Is entertaining bad thoughts about others a mortal sin? For example I have certain opinions about people where I do not see such individuals in a good light. For example I feel that certain individuals are not exactly benevolent. I feel that they can do me or my family harm in certain circumstances or I feel that certain individuals are stupid. Does entertaining such opinions or sharing such opinions with others constitute a sin? If so, is it a mortal sin that we are obliged to confess?

Thanks

James

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Hi James, recently I saw what I thought was a great Swedish film called A Man Called Ove, where this grumpy old guy keeps calling various people he knows 'stupid.' But during the film we find out lots of good things about this apparently very selfish man. And towards the end of the film he realizes that in a very important matter, he was stupid too - because his grumpiness meant his wife was afraid to tell him she'd a fatal illness as she thought he wouldn't be able to cope with that information.

The reason Jesus tells me not to judge others isn't a pious desire - it's based on the reality that I don't know the single most important thing that alone makes a true judgment of another person possible. I don't know what grace they've got from God. Normally I find myself judging others because they don't do things the way I'd do them (well, the way I think I'd do them). But, even if I'm right in thinking what others should do, I'm almost certainly wrong in thinking they'd be able to do them the same way. Much better to take Jesus' approach to the people who'd got him crucified: 'Father, forgive them because they don't know what they're doing' (Lk 23:34). Instead of asking, what's a mortal sin, wouldn't it be better to say, let's try to show mercy - the kind of love that's not deserved, which God delivers bucketfuls of to ourselves all the time - to whoever we meet? Very best, Fr Brendan
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ISLAM

A Xt3 Member asked at 9:44am on May 7th 2017
According to the one of Fathers of the Church, ISLAM is a heresy.
https://www.stpeterslist.com/11698/islam-as-a-christian-heresy-8-quotes-from-st-john-damascene-a-d-749/

Why does the Roman Catholic Church NO teach the whole world that Islam is an AntiChrist and a Christian heresy devised by Mohammed?

I am inclined to think that the Pope and Catholic Clergy are all fearful and so scared of the Muslim world that they refrained from telling the Truth,Way & Life.

Do you think the Church is correct in this failure.

My younger brother converted to Islam at the age of 40 when he worked in Saudi Arabia, after being baptised Catholic from birth.

The reason my brother converted as well as other Christians do is due to the failure of the Catholic Church to publicly teach and condemn this heresy of Islam.

My brother said he did not convert to Islam for convinience only while in Saudi Arabia, but faithful to it. He believes that "Original Sin"is false and Jesus Christ is merely a creature.

I also feel that the Pope and all the clergy in the Vatican are living in extreme luxury and easy and rich life compared to the lives of the St Peter & St Paul who were crucified and beheaded respectively. So too other Popes, apostles and fathers of the Church.

In his recent visit to Egypt, Pope Francis' speech only contained words whom the Imams and Muslim scholars wanted to hear.

The Pope never emphasised that he is the successor of St Peter evangilizing the Gospel and that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And, that Islam is a Christian Heresy and should have invited them to allow Catholic Evangelisers come to Egypt to teach the Gospel.

This luxurious living in the Vatican is going on while our Lord Jesus Christ is losing a billion souls being kept in error in the Muslim nations.

Cordially,

Zaara

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Hi Zaara, when in July 1942 the Dutch hierarchy, along with all other Christian denominations in Holland, openly condemned the National Socialists who'd invaded their country for their treatment of Dutch Jews, the Nazis not only continued with their plans to wipe out the Dutch Jews, but arrested and later murdered all Jews in Holland who'd converted to Catholicism (including St Edith Stein). This is one of the reasons given for Pope Pius XII not openly condemning the Nazi regimes during World War II. In the Islamic world there are still millions of Christians whose position - depending on the regime - is precarious. When Pope Benedict XVI spoke clearly in his 2006 Regensburg lecture against invoking God to excuse violence against others, he mentioned Islam (but also Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation period). This was followed by the murder of several Catholic sisters, in Pakistan and Sudan.

So it's not just a question of proclaiming the Gospel, there are issues of prudence involved that a religious leader must take into account. You're of course entitled to your own judgment on this matter, Zaara, but I'd offer St Francis' approach as possibly a more fruitful way ahead in the relationship between Christian and the Catholic Church in particular, with Islam. He so impressed the Islamic leaders of their time as a man of God that Franciscans alone among Christians were allowed to look after some of the Holy Places for centuries under the Ottoman Empire. And the present Pope Francis, I think, can be seen to be adopting that Franciscan approach. I think we'll have to leave it to history to judge which approach is better.

Regarding the Pope's luxurious living in the Vatican - I had the privilege in February to concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in the chapel of the building where he resides with many other priests, Casa Santa Marta, on the grounds of Vatican City. He's deliberately chosen to live in accommodation not all that different from a motel, rather than in the Vatican apartments normally lived in by the popes. In fact most of the Vatican consists of offices while the really expensive contents are part of the Vatican Museum - which no pope can dispose of since its art works belong to everyone, and are open to everyone. In fact, Pope Francis agrees with you, that a follower of Jesus shouldn't live luxuriously, and puts that into practice every day. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Joining an order

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 2:45am on May 6th 2017
Dear Father,
I am 36 years old, married and have a ten year old son. My husband and I are like strangers living in the same house just for the sake of our son. He hardly takes any interest in me. He is not much into prayers too. I find it very difficult to bring up my son in a religious way because my husband and his family are not so much into church and prayers. In fact my in laws do not even attend Sunday masses regularly. Even I have missed my masses whenever I go to stay in their place, because mass is not a priority for them. I am finding it difficult to devour time for prayers. I am a working woman. I would love to leave my job so that I can spend more time in prayers and take care of my son better, but I do not get any support from my husband.
Father, of late I have a strong feeling of going back home to Jesus. Only this thought always there in my mind. I want to live for Jesus, live waiting to meet him in Heaven. This feeling is so strong.
Father , is there a way for me to join some convent? I know can't take vows, but is there any way I can enter and live a life spent in prayers? Please let me know father. I want to detach myself from all the worldly things.
Thank you Father

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Dear Maria, many of the great saints, like St Dominic and St Francis, had followers just like you - people who were married, lived in the world, with all its responsibilities, yet wanted to give their lives to God. So they founded - after orders for men and for women, a 'third' order - for lay people who could, within the limitations of their state in life, follow their spirituality as fully as was possible. And there are many what are called ecclesial, or lay movements in the Church which are modern equivalents of those third orders (my parents were both enrolled in the Third Order of St Francis).

The woman who founded the ecclesial movement I know best, Focolare (meaning 'fireside - it's official name is the Work of Mary), Chiara Lubich, felt that everyone is called to holiness. And that the way to achieve that is through living the will of God in each present moment of our lives. For you, it would be trying to love your son and your husband in all the little things you do for them every day, but also at your work, trying to love your colleagues, your customers, clients, whatever. Since Jesus told us to see him in the least of our brothers and sisters, that means that each of us meets him in our neighbour.

A few weeks ago, an Iranian man called to where I live, with a big cardboard sign saying Hunger Strike. It was because of his despair that he could find no one to help him with the documentation required here in Australia (drivers license, medical card, and my seniors card) when you're buying a mobile phone. He needed a phone with a GPS for a delivery job he'd be starting the next day. I had someone else to see soon after he'd called, but realized that for me, at that time, he was Jesus, and I had to drop everything to try and help him. Though it meant being half an hour late for that appointment, he was able to get the phone, and gave me a big hug before I ran back to where I'd to meet someone. As you say, we have to detach ourselves from worldly things, but only to pick up Jesus instead. So, it would seem to me God doesn't want you to join a convent, but to live for Him in each neighbour. Very best, Fr Brendan
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The sin of Presumption

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 7:14am on May 5th 2017
Hi

I am finding it difficult to comprehend the sin of presumption. Part of an answer I found on the internet is as follows:

"To decide to sin is to offend God. To decide to sin because one knows that he can be forgiven is to sin twice"

What does this actually mean? When one is going to do a sin he knows that he is being to be forgiven if he goes to confessions. When I am going to do a sin, the sin of presumtion pops in my mind because I know that I can go to confessions afterwards. This menas that I am making the sin of presumtion every time I do a sin?

Regards

James

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Hi James, yes, presumption is committing a sin and saying, well, it's not so bad because God will forgive me for it in confession. But that whole approach undermines any mature relationship with God: I'm treating him like an ATM for grace. I've got to move towards the attitude you find in the saints, which is that I'm going to do all I can never to sin, particularly to avoid mortal sin. When I say in my act of contrition every night, 'I detest my sins above every other evil because they displease You, my God,' I really have to mean that 'above every other evil,' including the painful effort to overcome temptation. And what's called the 'purpose of amendment' we have to make in each confession means that I'm seriously going to avoid the situations that led me to fall into sin in the first place. To work on being faithful to that resolution we make in confession is, I think, the way to go.

Very best, Father Brendan
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Mass on TV

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 1:14pm on April 30th 2017
If unable to attend Mass on a Sunday, will watching a Sunday Mass on the television fulfill your obligation? i personally feel it is better then totally missing but I am concerned where the church stands on this.
Thank you

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Hi Barbara, I hope you won't mind if I go back to why we celebrate Mass on Sundays before answering your question. For Jesus' followers, brought up in the Jewish tradition of the Sabbath, to move from a Saturday, their holiest day of the week, to a Sunday, was as big a shock as if we decided to move Sundays to Mondays!

The reason they did was because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead. If you've ever seen Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean - what makes him so funny is that he's probably the greatest coward in cinema history. And - except for St John - all the apostles were a bit like Jack Sparrow. Peter three times denied him and the rest ran for the hills. A month or so later, after the Ascension, they're all ready to die for him- you get a good flavour of this in St Peter's telling it like it is to all the chief priests and their henchmen in Acts, chapter 5. What caused this huge change - especially since Jesus is no longer with them? Well, they knew he was with them in each Eucharist they celebrated, the same Risen Jesus, now promising to be with them all days, to the end of the world (Mt 28:20).

The reason why the Church wants us to attend Mass every week is so we can have the same reality, the experience of the Risen Jesus, dying and rising for us through the sacrifice of the Mass, and giving himself totally to us in the Blessed Eucharist. At 75, I'm never late for a doctor's appointment, much less inclined to skip it, and that's the standard I think you could think of applying to whether you can attend Mass on Sunday (or of course Saturday evening, when most churches celebrate the Sunday Mass too).

Is the reason I'm unable to attend due to an illness that prevents me attending? Or, am I travelling the whole weekend (sometimes I've been on a plane from Saturday to Monday morning, travelling back from Europe to Australia)? In either case, I'd always suggest downloading the readings of that Sunday's Mass and meditating on them, saying a Rosary, making a spiritual communion, so that I'm giving at least a half an hour to God in prayer on that day. If I have work commitments that rule out Mass from Saturday evening to late Sunday night, then as a follower of Jesus, at least I might consider whether I could get a job that would allow me to give Jesus that one hour a week he's asking from us. Of course, if, as I said, a person is housebound through illness, old age or infirmity, watching Mass prayerfully on TV is wonderful, but doesn't fulfil the obligation for an able-bodied person who hasn't a very pressing reason for not attending. Very best, Fr Brendan
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