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multiple marraiges

A Xt3 Member asked at 3:30pm on October 17th 2018
Hello Father,

I'm a Christian (Baptist). Does God's Law consider a woman's marriage valid that occurred when the man was STILL married to someone else (not divorced) at the time? The first spouse was still alive. The second marriage can be legally annulled thru Man's law, but did the second marriage even count in the eyes of God?

I realy feel like God put this woman in my life so I can be happy. The problem is that she's married to a man who was still married to another woman when they got married (she did not know of this at the time). The man (husband) took off and married a third woman and hasnt spoken to my friend in years. There is no marriage and she wants to get it annuled but the lawyer is expensive. If I get involved with her before its annuled, am I commiting adultery?

Please provide any Bible references to support your answer.

Thanks!

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Hi Ray, let me start with the Bible references: in the book of Malachi, God says that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). And in the Gospels, Jesus says:

'Haven't you read that at the beginning the Creator "made them male and female," and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?" So they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate' (Mt 19:4-6). And: 'Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery' (Lk 16:18, see Mk 10:11-12).

St Paul writes: 'Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives. . . . Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive' (Rom. 7:2-3). And: 'To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) - and that the husband should not divorce his wife' (1 Cor 7:10-15).

None of this means that a couple could never separate - since infidelity, violence or other serious issues, could make it impossible for the couple to stay together. What Jesus and Paul are ruling out is the remarrying of a validly married couple, who remain married to each other even after they're physically separated.

Since you're a Baptist, I don't feel qualified to go into the details of what you should do, but would suggest you consult your Pastor and find out what are your Church's procedures for dealing with what is an extremely difficult situation for you and this woman. If you were Catholic, the Church would have to examine that situation to see if the woman's marriage could be annulled, and if it could be, then you'd need to get a civil divorce as well, before you could be married in the Church. Hope that's not too confusing! Very best, keeping you in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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The Sacrament of Marriage

A Xt3 Member asked at 2:29am on October 24th 2018
Dear Father,

Thank you for taking your time to read this. I have two questions for you:

What does it mean to receive the sacrament of marriage in a Catholic church?

and

How can my husband and I be called to live out the vocation of married life in our relationship with each other, our family and the Catholic community?

Harold and I do try to be a stable family unit in our community.

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Hi Emilysue, one way of trying to understand the beauty of this wonderful sacrament is to think of what the priest says at Mass when he is consecrating the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. When he says 'this is my Body, which will be given up for you,' the word 'body' here means his whole self, divinity and humanity, and 'for you' sums up his whole life, given up for each of us. And when the priest says 'this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant,' the word 'Blood' stands again for his whole self, divine and human, from the viewpoint of life, 'poured out for you and for many.' And the 'new covenant' means the new relationship in which all of us are, in Jesus, united with his Father.

So when a couple pronounce their vows, they are each pledging their whole selves to each other in Jesus. And the words said after that, 'for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part' share in the unconditional commitment of Jesus to his New Covenant. Each of the spouses confers that abiding sacramental presence of Jesus in whom they are united forever. Just after they've made their vows, the priest, using the words of Jesus says 'what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' While that sounds like a negative statement, that's only the second part. Because Jesus meant the spouses are bound together like the Father is bound together in an unbreakable unity with the Son in the Holy Spirit. All this happens through the sacrament of Matrimony which each of the spouses confers on the other (the priest, best man and principal bridesmaid are all just witnesses to this).

Pope Francis is very clear that marriage, like priesthood and religious life, is a vocation too, a beautiful and special calling to the spouses from God. And I guess that vocation to witness to the love uniting the Trinity in which they share, is first to be lived out with one another - each one finds their way to God through love of the other, including the inevitable sufferings that come their way. And then with their children, if God has sent them a family. That's a huge part of their vocation, since the very example of a good Christian family is a light in the darkness for others trying to find their way.

But your question shows you're willing to share your family life with others, and that can be expressed in helping other couples, especially those in difficulties, it could be, (obviously only when and if possible), in adopting or fostering children who need the care of a family. Possibly you could think of participating in various family-oriented groups or movements that may exist within reachable distance from where you live.

St John Paul II once said at the end of a huge meeting of the Focolare's New Family Movement in Rome, 'you [meaning each family] must be the Church [that is each family as a little Church], and the Church must be you' [that is, the whole Church must be a family, like yours]. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Matthew 23:9

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 10:44pm on November 25th 2018
Dear Fr,

Greetings from Pakistan!

I am a born catholic, I am in search of this question, "why do we call a priest, "Father"? when Jesus tautgh us in Matthew 23:9 that we should not call anyone our father on the earth.

thanks and regards

Ajmal Hadayat

Islamabad-Pakistan

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Hi Ajmal, like everything in the Gospels, the context is important. That chapter 23 opens by criticizing the Pharisees for using words without deeds, preaching without living up to what they're asking others to do (2-4) . Then Jesus goes on to call out the Pharisees' vanity and self-importance: 'they do all their deeds to be seen by men' (5-7).

He then (8-12) contrasts their efforts at showing themselves better than everyone else with what his followers are to do, in five statements about our equality before God.

1) They shouldn't claim to be Rabbis, teachers, since there's only one Teacher, and they're all brothers. It surely didn't mean that no one should ever be called a teacher. But since we're all brothers, a Christian teacher should always be humble before their pupils, however young, since they're all brothers of Jesus, Jesus is in each of them, however young.

2) The one you mention: 'call no man your father on earth, for you have only one Father, who is in heaven' surely doesn't mean to undermine the role of human fathers - that would be to go against the Fourth Commandment, 'honour your father and your mother.' In Aramaic and Hebrew, the word for father is 'ab' (or its 'pet' form, 'abba,' Dad or Daddy) doesn't only refer to our biological father but is also an honorary title given to a teacher, elder, or patron.

3) Is a kind of repeat of 1), where the word means the same, instructor or master, since 'you have only one teacher/master, the Christ.' 4) Explains the underlying answer to the pride of the Pharisees mentioned in the first two criticisms, 'the greatest among you shall be your servant.' And 5) underlines the complete revolution of the Gospels: 'whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.'

So I'd suggest that Jesus didn't mean that we should never call anyone other than his Father or himself, teacher or father - what he wanted to do was contrast the Pharisees' desire to lord it over people with the Christian's opposite behaviour of humbling him- or herself. The title that the Pope uses, 'servant of the servants of God' captures that meaning, and of course if we priests ever do what the Pharisees did, and instead of humbly serving our people try to act as their rulers or bosses, we're going against everything Jesus asked of his followers. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Lazarus

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 9:07am on December 6th 2018
Hello. I am not Catholic, but my husband's family is.



Recently I've been interested in the story of Lazarus. Do we know anything about his life before Christ resurrected him? After? I would imagine that since he had been dead, he may have been considered unclean by the populace after his resurrection.



Thank you in advance.

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Hi Alexis, all we know about Lazarus is from the Gospel, where he's the brother of Martha and Mary, who live at Bethany - which was a place many pilgrims from Galilee would stay in on their way to Jerusalem. Since I guess there was no provision in the Jewish law for how to treat someone raised from the dead, I can't imagine how Lazarus could have been regarded as unclean.

And, in fact, six days before the Passover feast, St John tells us that 'Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him' (Jn 12: 1-2). There's no mention there of anyone considering Lazarus unclean, rather he's seen as very much alive, able to share in a meal with all the others. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Does God prevent some from ever marrying?

A Xt3 Member asked at 2:25pm on December 20th 2018
Does God Prevent some people from ever marrying even if it is all they have ever wanted? I feel like God knows how important marriage is for me and that I don't have long for kids, but I feel like no matter how much I ask him to help my relationships or help me find the right person, he never helps. I have always been a good person, but lately I have become a very angry person, and I am starting to resent people who are close to me, who have marriage and children, Why did god help them, but not me. I don't have long to have children, and I would never be able to continue a relationship with the lord if he refuses me of this, because to me it means he doesn't care. So my question is, why does he choose certain people to deprive of marriage and children?

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Hi Abby, I don't think I'll be able to answer your question, since it's one of the biggest questions of all - why do innocent people have to suffer? You can imagine all through history there have been millions of people who have asked that question too, Why me? And your own question has been asked again and again by women who have not found a partner they could share their lives with and with whom they could have a family.

About 12 years ago, I got to know a man. Vern, who was suddenly struck, I think it was when he was in his late 30, with multiple sclerosis. That immediately cost him his job, and soon after, his wife abandoned him to the care of his mother. In the care home where he lived, he wrote poetry, sang songs (as long as he could) for the other patients, and one poem, this not particularly religious guy wrote, stuck in my mind. He entitled it: 'Are you listening, God?'

I know you are powerful, mighty and strong

but personally I think

you got this wrong

or did you?

Vern knew there was no cure for the kind of MS he had, but that 'or did you?' indicated for me that he'd reached a level of acceptance.

Just as another great friend of mine, Eddie, found he had muscular dystrophy from when he was about 7 years old, the most serious kind that normally meant those suffering from it died about age 17. Still, Eddie had found a way to go beyond his suffering, a way that showed itself in his remark about a seriously depressed student I'd brought to have a chat with him. After the student left, Eddie said to me, 'it's a pity he doesn't understand that you don't solve problems, you love them.' I didn't quite get what he meant for a while, but realized that Eddie knew his 'problem' couldn't be solved (in fact he died at 31, living nearly twice as long as he was expected to) but that he'd come to accept it.

And I'll draw on what he told me to pick up your question again. Eddie had discovered that when Jesus cried out on the Cross, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' he had reached the depths of his suffering. Worse than the nails, than the humiliations, was his experience of being, it seemed, abandoned by his own Father. Once Jesus said, 'the Father and I are one.' Now that oneness was torn in two, and it seemed his Father no longer loved him.

I'm not asking you to accept that as an 'answer' to your terribly tough experience. But at least you can be sure that Jesus being forsaken - along with his Mother being desolated by the loss of her Son as she stood by him - that both of them are sharing in your own experience of forsakenness by God, and of desolation in the possibility of your losing, having a family of your own. Jesus does go on to say to his Father, 'into your hands I entrust my spirit.' And Mary, through accepting the loss of her Son, becomes the Mother of humanity. My prayer is that they will both come into your heart and help you to bear the tremendous suffering you have spoken about, and I'll certainly keep your hopes for meeting someone who could be your husband in my own prayers every day. Very best, fr Brendan
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Is blasphemy really an eternal sin?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 2:35am on January 11th 2019
Hello!

I'm an orthodox christian who lives in Finland so forgive me for my bad grammar and forgive me if I chose the incorrect topic for this. I have some questions for you priests so I hope you guys could answer for them to clear some stuff for me.

I heard blasphemy is an eternal sin which you won't be forgiven but doesn't bible say that no matter what kind of sin you have committed, God will forgive you no matter what? I'm bit confused on that.

What kind of voice does God have? How do I exactly regocnize his voice? Some people say he is voiceless but what about people that have heard God's voice?

I have never seen any sign of God. Is it because I haven't noticed it or he just hasn't showed any signs? Or have I done something that God wasn't happy with?

I hope you can answer these questions. I wish you a good day!

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Hi Anton, as you know, Jesus said: 'Truly I tell you, all sins and blasphemes will be forgiven for the sons of men. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin' (Mk 3: 28-29, and see Mt 12: 30-32, Lk 12: 8-10). That 'sin against the Holy Spirit' has been understood as applying to anyone who knowingly chooses not to accept God and his forgiveness. Since God can't force our free will to choose him or his grace, that situation is called, if the person sticks with it up to the moment of death, 'final impenitence.'

Some years ago I heard of a former religious leader who'd been living a double life, with 'wives' in different countries, and accused of abusing some of his own followers when they were young seminarians. I don't know for sure if this happened but it will do as an example of final impenitence. But it was reported that when he was invited to confess his sins so they could be absolved, and to receive the Sacrament of the Sick, he refused. In this case, if that story is true, God couldn't forgive him because he didn't want to be forgiven.

God as God doesn't have a voice, since he's pure spirit, but of course through the Incarnation, Jesus, who is God and man, does have a voice, and we have his spoken words in the Gospels.

Like you, I've never had any signs from God, other than through the ordinary events and people I've met during my life - I've certainly felt God has 'spoken' to me through their wise words and great example. In fact, only a tiny minority of Christians ever get to hear some special communication from God, like St Francis hearing the crucifix in the church of San Damiano in Assisi telling him to 'rebuild my Church.' So it's certainly not on account of your having done something you don't get a special message. In fact, Jesus told St Thomas, who had the privilege of checking out that the body of the Risen Jesus was the same body that had been crucified, ' blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe' (Jn 20:29). Very best, Fr Brendan
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Recieving Communion

A Xt3 Member asked at 5:49pm on January 18th 2019
Hi,I am a married man married in the church of England but converted
To Catholicism, my wife left me and
our two children for
another man in 1973,since then I met another woman and we have been friends for 35years two years ago she asked if she could live with me
as she was part disabled and I said
yes and I have become her carer, we have separate bedrooms and live like brother and sister no sex or anything like that. I am 81 year's
old now she is 74. My question is in this situation should I still be
recieving holy communion in the Catholic church my wife is in a home and has dementia and does not
know who I am.

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Hi Harry, the only reason you'd have to go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion would be if you had been sleeping with this woman friend of yours, whether in the past or now. On the basis of what you've asked, you're doing nothing wrong, and it's just great you have the generosity and kindness to care for this woman. It seems to me you've had to live in a very difficult situation, and I'd see your friendship with this woman, lived the way you're living it, as a grace from God for you both. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Scruples And Video Games

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 4:28am on January 22nd 2012
I have found in recent months that I am scrupulous. I have been doing quite well, but recently it's made an attachment on one of my favorite subjects: War history. I now feel sinful if I play an historic war game, or take pleasure when watching documentaries on battles in the American Revolution. I believe that most men enjoy war and violence, but is it still sinful to do these things, since I am taking joy out of death? I'm not joyful that people are dead, but I do think that war and such is cool, although I am quite against wars, save for just cases.

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Dear Miles:

Well it is not as though you are rejoicing over people dying, it is more a question of enjoying the spectacle and the action. There is nothing sinful in that.

Answered by Fr John Flynn
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Is it possible to be condemned since birth?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 10:39am on May 8th 2018
First of all I'd like to point out, I am not a Christian or Catholic. I have family all over that share different religious and non-religious demographics. Protestant, Catholic, Pagan, Judaism and so on. Add Islamic, Buddhist and Hinduism in there which are the only things I don't have (That I know of.) in my family and you'd literally the entire world's religons covered in my family, both good and bad. With that said, my main is Paganism specifically Wicca and specifically derives from the Greco-Roman Gods and Goddesses. Specifically Diana Goddess of the hunt. I only put this up there to explain my religious background and my reasons. I picked that specific one to be my main mostly in honor of my Mother and mostly because I seen enough things to know that there is at least more than what science alone can explain. Unlike most people who are often staunch in their beliefs and often would drive others out, I do my best to get along with others despite their religions differing from my own and would only drive any who use their beliefs and non-beliefs as an excuse to hurt rather than an inspiration to help. So long story short, I respect all religions, but I have no respect for extremists on all sides.

But enough of my rambling, on with the subject at hand. Throughout my entire life I have often tried to do right no matter what life throws at me. I try to do my best in school, try to make friends, get a good job and pursue my dream career and so on. But what really irks me is that no matter how little I get ahead it's always outweighed by a lot of bad things thrown in my direction. I get in fights, both physically and verbally, I get caught in the middle of confrontations that leave me either hurt or having to move from one location to another. I get pushed aside because someone in my family would do something that if you excuse my language F***s their life over which in turn draws everyone's attention to that. One of the few achievements I have ever succeeded in my life was graduating Highschool and when I try to improve my life for the better, something always stands in my way especially if it's a circumstance beyond my control. Have I done bad in my life? Sure, but who hasn't? However this has been happening to me long before I even have a chance to do any major damage. Be it to myself or others. Yet despite all that, I keep getting this nagging feeling that no matter what I deserve it simply for existing in the first place. So I'd like to ask. Is it possible that I've been condemened since birth? That I have literally been destined to endure so much misery, until I die?

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Hi Shane, it's great you've got that openness to all religions - every few years there's a big meeting of leaders of most of the world's religions in Assisi, the town of St Francis. First invited by Pope John Paul II, then by Pope Benedict XVI, and more recently by Pope Francis, not only leaders of the main Christian Churches, but Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, and many other religions attend - my favourite has always been the American Indian Chief, who attends arrayed in the most magnificent gear of all, his eagle-feather headdress! While each of these representatives have their own beliefs and don't mix them with the others, the point of their attending is to witness to what you mentioned, that there is a lot more to human existence than what the natural sciences can explain.

And congratulations too on getting your High School Diploma - I remember my own Leaving Certificate exam as we called it in Ireland, as still, despite other degrees I later got at different colleges, the toughest exam I ever had in my life. So yours is a great achievement.

But despite the negative things you mention, there's no question of your being condemned from birth. From a Christian viewpoint, God loves each of us deeply and personally.For Christians, we see what God permitted his own Son to go through when he came on earth - basically Jesus Christ died an agonizing death, abandoned by most of his friends. Still, we also believe, as God and Man, that he rose from the dead again, and while God may allow us to go through the kinds of frustrations and difficulties you mention, we're convinced that we can, by seeing them as sharing in the sufferings Jesus himself underwent, somehow transform the negative into something positive in our lives.

A few years ago I suggested a way we can all try to live our lives - by breaking them down into each moment and living each moment with as much love as we can manage - as one very holy man, St John of the Cross, put it, 'where there isn't love, put love, and you'll find love. Here's what I wrote about this:

Years ago at a kind of weekend retreat, I'd asked Pete, a young man I'd invited to come along, to play at a little concert we'd be having on our last evening there. He was a magnificent guitar player and singer, had written lots of beautiful songs. But I didn't realize he had been going through something like musician's block - he just couldn't play in public. Rather than disappoint me, he was going to leave that afternoon. He met Dee, an English girl who was at our meeting, and must have told her why he was leaving. Dee said to him: Just imagine you're in a factory, where your job is to light candles as they pass you on a conveyer belt. If you look at all the ones you've lighted, and think, 'I did a good job there.' Or you might look at the row of candles still coming and you're scared and think, 'I wonder will I be able to light them in time.' Either way, looking to the past (the candles already lighted) or the future (the candles that haven't come yet), you'll miss the candle in front of you.

Pete understood what Dee was saying - that he shouldn't be worrying about how he might feel that evening, or how he'd felt before, but just live each moment as it came, with as much love as he could manage. He played wonderfully that night and later went on to make two commercial recordings of his songs.

I hope that's a help, 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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