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Is blasphemy really an eternal sin?

A Xt3 Member asked at 2:35am on January 11th 2019

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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Scruples And Video Games

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?

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

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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When to report crimes?

A Xt3 Member asked at 6:51pm on September 25th 2018
Hi Father, I wanted to know when do we have to report crimes that we see or hear other people doing? Like for instance, I know some people who have fake IDs and who pirate movies/music online. Am I obliged to report them by moral law as legally, we're not obliged nor is it my job. What about people I know who drive buzzed on beer but are still concious of how they drive and all? This has been really bothering me because I know many people who do illegal things and I find it overwhelming that I have to report it if I am obliged.

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Hi Karen, in many parts of the English speaking world there's difference between a crime and a civil offence. A crime is considered as committed against the whole state and these are prosecuted by the state; civic cases are considered to be offenses against an individual and these are dealt with by civil law lawsuits. Since crimes are much more seriously considered, concealing crime d result in a person being accused as accessory before, during or after the fact - if they had knowledge of the crime about to be committed, or while was committed, or after it had been committed.

But all of your examples have more to do with civil offences. I'd be more inclined if they were friends of yours to point out the dangers they were running - like driving while drunk. You're definitely not obliged to intervene in these cases, since often those offending are unlikely to listen to your advice. A lot of law is a matter of common sense and for me you're not obliged to report most of the cases you mention. What if there's knowledge of real crime, like drug dealing? A lot depends here on just how good the local police are. If you've a fair suspicion they'll inform on to the drug dealers, I'd say were putting yourself at unjustifiable risk and should keep quiet about what's going on. I'm really sorry I don't know what country your writing from and I could be more specific if I knew. Keeping you in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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Missing mass

A Xt3 Member asked at 12:05pm on September 25th 2018
Hello, my mother wants me to miss mass to visit/care for my grandmother, who is mourning the loss of my uncle, (her son) is it still a mortal sin to miss mass?

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Hi Emma, this isn't an easy question to answer, since they are few details here. So please accept I don't have enough of these details. I'm presuming we're talking about the obligation to attend Sunday (or Saturday evening Mass).

Since in most countries, Sunday Mass doesn't take more than an hour, it doesn't seem asking too much to take that hour and dedicate it to God. When you visit your grandmother you are bearing within you the presence of Jesus - you might even consider becoming an extraordinary Eucharistic Minister so you could bring your grandmother Jesus. You'll find the answer to your question on missing Mass in the Catechism of the Catholic Church S2042.

Normally someone is excused from attending Mass if they're seriously ill, have just become a mother and what I find hard to understand is that not being with your grandmother for just one hour a week (are there no others who could help out here?), or, and forgive me for this, is there some kind of personal difficulty between you and your mother that could be resolved in an a friendly discussion? With very best wishes and prayers, especially for your grandmother's tragic situation. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Is it immoral to purchase products that test on animals?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please help. Thank you Father.

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

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

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

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

No one said that praying is easy: when I started my first year in the seminary, it felt as if I were lifted up onto Cloud Nine, but after that first year, way back in 1960-61, I almost never feel anything. That brings me closer to Jesus' own huge suffering at prayer, when he cried out, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' I think he wants us to be with him at that moment, unable to pray, and still pushing ourselves to say, in Him, to our Father, 'Into your hands I entrust my spirit.' Or with those who follow St Faustina's Divine Mercy prayer, 'Jesus, I trust in you.' I think the more we're like little children, barely able to say a word, the nearer we are to that prayer of Jesus. And of course the best preparation for meeting Jesus in prayer is making the effort to find him in whoever our neighbour happens to be at the time. Hope that's a bit of help, very best, Fr Brendan
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A Xt3 Member asked at 12:06pm on August 16th 2018
What does the Catholic Church teaches on monarchy? Also, what does the church teach on divine right of kings, coronation ceremony and anointing of kings?.

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

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

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

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

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