Year of Youth 2018

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Is it a sin to download music from YouTube?

A Xt3 Member asked at 11:20am on March 11th 2016
<p class="p1">Hello Father,

<p class="p1">I am a fan of music and so when songs were freely available on YouTube, I would use a YouTube downloader and download them. I have started to question whether what I was doing was stealing or not. I recently read an article that said downloading from YouTube is illegal because some content creators on the site get paid by the views they recieve.

<p class="p1">While a lot of music on the site is not uploaded by the original artist or by people getting paid through their views, I question whether copyright of the music or some other issue would make it stealing. I have also been told that listening to downloaded music where you have the choice to hear it online, is no different than listening to the same music on YouTube.

<p class="p1">So I am feeling somewhat confused by points on both sides wanted a definitive answer. Is downloading music on YouTube a sin (stealing)?

<p class="p1">Thanks Father.

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Hi Antonio, a basic point in moral theology is that, unless the laws of the country we're living in are clearly against natural or divine law, they are binding on us in conscience.

Unfortunately, I'm not a lawyer, and the law on intellectual and artistic property is developing in most countries. Speaking as a person unqualified in this area, it seems to me if I downloaded music for my own listening from YouTube, it would be alright. But if I downloaded it and distributed it to others, that seems like an infringement of copyright unless it were clearly indicated the music was in the public domain. (I'm working on my own experience of buying cheap DVDs of films for about $5, which make it clear they're for personal use at home and not for public showing.) Hope that's a help, I've everything to learn here about the law in this area. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Death penalty

A Xt3 Member asked at 4:52am on August 4th 2018
Hi Father,

Wishing you a very happy feast of St. John Vianney. My question is in regard with Death penalty. I have heard that the Catholic Church doesn't support death penalty for anyone either. Can you please enlighten on this topic regarding the official teaching of the Church.

Awaiting your reply

Thank you

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Hi Jones, thanks for your greeting on the feast of St John Vianney, who reminded us that 'the priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.' And maybe that love of the Heart of Jesus and of his mercy is what moved Pope Francis to make this insertion on the death penalty in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So, on August 3rd of this year, the Osservatore Romano inserted a new paragraph in the Catechism, which now reads:

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,' and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

Some commentators have remarked that the word 'inadmissible' isn't a term used in canon law, and that the new insertion doesn't state that the use of the death penalty in those cases where it was previously regarded as morally acceptable is intrinsically immoral, as for example are murder and abortion. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Is it a sin to use stolen property?

A Xt3 Member asked at 1:03am on August 4th 2018
Hello Father,

I recently bought a copy of Microsoft Windows 10 Pro on eBay for about $4. I read online that it may have been sold so cheaply because it's stolen property, or because it's a key meant for a different computer (which I suspect is the case), which violates Microsoft's terms of use.

I called Microsoft, and they said if the key activated, it's good to use. It did activate. But I don't know if the rep really knew what he was talking about.

In any case, if the key is stolen, or if using it violates Microsoft's terms of use, is it a sin for me to use it?

If this seems silly, I'm sorry. I just wanna do what's right.

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Hi Liam, it's just great that you want to do what's right! I'm no expert on the complications of the use of computer software. But when you called Microsoft, I think you did all you could be reasonably expected to do, since by contacting them you were showing you were prepared to do whatever the rep said, including not using the program you bought. Once he had no objection to your using that program if the key activated (I've no understanding of what that means!), it seems to me that you're morally entitled to use it. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Return to Catholicism

A Xt3 Member asked at 9:49pm on July 28th 2018
Hello Father,

Trust you are well.

I've recently made a friend who is from Germany and was born Catholic, but has moved away from the church and faith, and is currently following Buddhism. I haven't been able to speak to my friend yet about their faith upbringing at home or if their family is still in the Church. My friend is 36 years old now.

I did a bit of research on the history of Catholicism in Germany, and seems that a lot of people have left the Church mainly because of church taxes levied, behaviour of priests and stubborn hierarchy.

I personally feel that those are not valid reasons to leave the Church. We go to Church for the Lord and it's not based on who's there or not there, or what people are doing or not doing- the Church is not defined by that, it's the presence of Christ. But again these are my own thoughts.

I assume my friend is in search for the truth or something spiritual and I respect that.

Do you have any suggestions as to how I can bring my friend back to our Catholic Church and faith Father?

Thank you.

God bless.

Kind regards,


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Hi Anita, when someone has left the Church, there's surely a wound there caused by any one or several of the reasons you've mentioned. And if your friend is following Buddhism, as you say, he hasn't given up on his search for a spiritual meaning for his life. Years ago, young friends I had in Ireland went to Japan to meet up with young people of a lay Buddhist movement there, Risshō Kōsei Kai. The Irish young people, along with others in the Gen or Focolare youth movement, from different parts of Europe and Asia, were trying to put the Gospel into practice in their lives, including their love of Jesus crucified, forsaken and risen. As a result, the young Japanese Buddhists, who focused on living according to the Lotus Sutra, immediately clicked with them.

So I think the best way to relate with your friend is for you to live the Gospel as fully as you can, including loving Jesus in this friend of yours in a disinterested way-that is, without any agenda other than to love him. He may or may not respond immediately, but it's impossible for someone not to be touched by that kind of love, even if it takes a few years, or if it's only later that he remembers. If he eventually asks why is it that you're treating him like that, you will be able to explain what it is to be a Christian-which in the first place is to love. And it's that 'presence of Christ' in you, as you've said, that will make up for the wounds he's experienced in the lack of that love before. I don't think there's any quicker way than that. I'll certainly remember him and all you're doing in my prayers, very best, Fr Brendan
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A Xt3 Member asked at 4:47pm on July 26th 2018
I have seen both God and Jesus in my dreams. I have only seen Jesus once in my dreams and God multiple times in my dreams, once during Triduum. What would this mean and are they trying to tell me something?

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Hi Grace, these dreams are perhaps gifts from God to help you in your life. But spiritual writers always remind us that we shouldn't prefer the gifts of God to God himself, so that often these gifts are encouragements for us to go further in our life of prayer with him and charity towards him in our neighbour.

Here's my favourite story about this, told by Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement: 'It's said that the disciples of Anba Bishoy, a Coptic monk who died in 417, when they heard that Christ often appeared to him, asked him to let Him appear to them too. Anba Bishoy agreed, telling them Christ would meet them on a certain fixed day.

The whole Savannah and desert people got ready for that meet up. Everyone dressed in their best clothes, so happy to be able to meet Christ. While they were going towards the place they'd been told about, they met an old man who asked each one going by: "Take me with you!" But each one had the holy excuse of having to hurry and meet Christ, so no one took him along.

Then Anba Bishoy went by and saw the old man standing there, who asked him: "Please, take me with you!" So Anba Bishoy took him on his shoulders, as an act of love towards his neighbour. Needless to say, on that day Christ met only with Anba Bishoy, while everyone else missed out on meeting him.' So if your dreams are pointing to anything they're encouraging you to find Jesus in each neighbour you meet that day. Very best, Fr Brendan
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A Xt3 Member asked at 12:48pm on July 21st 2018
So this post may be long,
I’ve been having these weird dreams.. the first one I had was about saint Gabriel who was traveling a desert road he was looking for two little children a little girl and a little boy.
I don’t remember fully but I remember I choose to volunteer to find them I walked into the church where the pictures were hanging and I went up to the photos and I started to pray then the photos started to bleed and then I turned around and realized that the people in the church we’re not real church members they were fake so I started to tell them that this church was fake and everything in the Church started to turn black the crosses turn upside down so ran out the Church I set out to find the children. For some reason only the little girl is very visible in my mind white little girl with the red dress. The little boy I can’t remember anything anyways I set out looking for the little girl and I realize that Saint Gabriel was on his way to help me find them and I woke up.

The second room I had I had found a little girl in the red dress and she was looking for her mother in a different church so I grab this little girls hand and I walked into this church and a soon as I saw the priest and their followers they were wearing red but they were demons and they kept trying to cast me out while holding the little girls hand I said out loud I am a demon of God you cannot prevail I looked around at these people who were demons but they were Jews I do not mean to offend any religious type or anything but this was just my dream but while I was saying this I could hear my voice and it sounded like a demon Voice it didn’t sound like mine so in my dream while I was trying to pass through the church to get the little girl to her mom I kept saying I am a demon from God you cannot prevail I will when God is on my side with this team in Voice coming out of me and I woke up.

Third one I had I was visiting my sister up in the mountains and my mother had passed in my dream my sister was on drugs married to this man who was using her for money. while I was walking back to my sisters house we had to go over a wooden bridge that was laid out right above the water as I was walking I turned around and there is a demon in this female form who drag me in the water but I could not drown every time she pulled me in the water I wouldn’t skink so I would just stand up and and get back on the wooden planks I looked at her and I repeated this in the name of the Holy Ghost I condemn do you I repeated that for a while and then I woke up I’ve never ever had dreams like this in my life before and I’m just curious to know what they mean or if they mean anything at all I would like some help or advice thank you and if you have more questions please email me or ask me and I shall give you more detailed information I remember these dreams very vividly but I just wrote them out fast

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Hi Mary, there are four or five levels at which human beings have conscious experience: at the highest level is when we make religious commitment, then there's the level of moral judgment and decision. After that there are the levels associated with human knowledge-where we move from examining our experience of ourselves and of reality, getting an insight into these experiences, and arriving at making a judgment of whether our ideas or insights are in fact true or false.

Before these levels are the forms of consciousness we share with the higher animals-sensation (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling) and perception (various combinations of these sensations), imagination and memory. Below all these is that half-and-half kind of consciousness we call our dreams. But dreams in themselves don't put us in touch with reality. Obviously there are cases where Divine revelation comes in a dream, as in the case of St Joseph, who twice gets a message from God by means of an angel. But most of our dreams are best seen as the play of our imagination free from any input of human reason and decision.

So I'd be inclined to say that you have a very rich dream life, but that dream life has nothing to do with reality. And certainly we've got enough clear instructions in the Gospel and the rest of the New Testament writings, never mind the teaching of the Church, to keep us on the right path during our lives. With the embarrassingly (for me anyway!) simple to understand requirement to love Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters, something we can do at every moment of the day from the minute we open our eyes in the morning. With best wishes for your continuing to do that, which I'm sure you're doing as well as you can, Fr Brendan
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A Xt3 Member asked at 8:16pm on July 20th 2018
what was adam and eves response to the gifts given to them?

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Hi Charlie, well, the best thing to do is to check out chapter three in the Book of Genesis, where Eve and Adam, are tempted by the devil, who lies to them that they will become like gods if only they eat the forbidden fruit.

We get a much deeper understanding of all that's going on in those early chapters of Genesis in St Paul's discussion of the New Adam, who, by becoming nothing-Paul says he actually becomes 'sin' for us-Jesus in his total humility reverses the pride of our First Parents. And in chapters 12 and 22 of St John's Apocalypse, the last book of the New Testament, St John shows us how Mary, the Mother of God, fulfils the prophecy God made to Satan in the first book of the Bible when he promises to make 'the woman' the enemy of Satan, whose Son ('offspring') will crush the evil spirit's head.

So while Adam and Eve reject the gifts God has given them, the New Adam and the New Eve more than make up for that rejection by lives of complete unity with and obedience to God. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Missing Sunday Mass

A Xt3 Member asked at 11:09am on July 1st 2018
I have missed a few Sunday masses.

Some Sundays I have to work from sun up till sunset to get to get work done for Monday if I want to get paid...

A Sunday such as this... My niece and nephew are in town and they are adhd on a sugar high. My niece was up till 4am yesterday. Too wound up to get her fall asleep.

So everyone over slept this morning.

When I miss, I try to watch mass on EWTN, then spend the day praying, watching religious programming, doing my rosary and novena...

But I wonder, is watching the mass on tv as valid? I know it's better to go in person to accept communion, but I have to go confession again first before communion. And they offer a Eucharistic prayer for those watching on television.

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Hi Dee, why not have a look at why the Church for at least 1000 years (and before that, it probably wasn't necessary to ask them) has said we must all attend Mass every Sunday. If you think what a shock to the early Jewish Christians to have their principal celebration moved from the Sabbath/Saturday to a Sunday - it would be like us being asked to move it to Tuesday! The principal reason for this was, and you can pick it up from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, was that Jesus rose on the third day, that was a Sunday, 'the first day of the week,' and that his followers met together every Sunday after that. So our Sunday Mass is above everything, a celebration of Jesus' Resurrection.

Whenever someone mentions missing Mass to me, I try to ask why, and one of the reasons you give - having to look after your ADHD niece and nephew might well be an adequate reason, if looking after them was a responsibility you had to take on. Or if you weren't feeling well - the standard I suggest is: if I had an appointment with my doctor, would I put it off because I wasn't well enough to go?

I often think of a remark my dad made to a young hotel receptionist when on holiday in Italy years ago. He'd asked her if she knew where the nearest church was and she'd said she didn't know. He said (ok, we're Irish and we're not bad at exaggerating), 'you don't know? Four million years from now you may be sorry you didn't know!' Ok, that was a kind of a joke, but it still expressed his awareness of just how important Sunday Mass was.

That's why, if you were ill, of course it's great to be able to watch Mass on TV, but Jesus misses us more than we may miss him, and it's only at Mass that we can receive his unbelievable gift of himself, God and man, to us in the Eucharist. Regarding your work problem - and please don't think I'm handing out recipes from a safe distance, as obviously I don't know your exact situation - would there be a chance of your attending the Sunday vigil Mass on a Saturday evening? When you think that most Sunday Masses last about an hour, would you be able to manage your time so that that you can carve out the time for that most precious hour in the week for each of us? With very best wishes for all you're doing, and keeping you in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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Role of the Priest

A Xt3 Member asked at 3:18am on July 1st 2018
My wife is parish secretary and has been for 20 years. I was a catholic school teacher and in education for 40 yrs. We have always got involved in our parish and initiated and supported programs that bring our parish together such as the Passionist Family group movement, youth groups, and as a childrens liturgy teacher. The priest were like family to us and were always heavily involved in the parish. As a young person growing up catholic priests were put on a pedistool and what they said goes.

I would never allow a priest to be elitist and bully me or my fellow parishers reminding them about why they wash the feet of parisheners at Easter. The priests over my 40 yrs as a teacher were extremely holy,down to earth and parish centred.

Recently our new bishop and new priest are seemily going back to bad old days. Our parish purchased the old Nuns quarters as a parish centre many years ago and the priest residence was upstairs and the downstairs was used as their offices, parish secretary and meeting place for parisheners, youth groups, retreats etc. Upstaiars has glass doors security screens, sitting rooms bedrooms 2 bathrooms and a fully functional kitchen etc.

All the holy wonderful priest loved the parish centre and our parish was extensively used. My wife came home crying and upset not long ago saying that the new priest, Holy men I believe, were telling her that they are closing off the centred and it is to become their private residence. They want a private priests entrance as well.

I told my wife that we need to remind them that they do not own the parish centre, we paid for it and they need to pull their heads in and take a leaf out of Pope Francis address to newly ordained priests. I rang our retired priest to ask him what he thought. He said that this ridiculous and the parish priest must be the good shepherd and work closely with the parish and not isolate him from his parish.

I then wrote to the Bishop and voiced my concerns and told him we will not be kicked out of our parish centre and that the priest has a private residence upstairs and surely could walk in through the front door six more feet then up the stairs not spending money we do not have putting in a private entrance.

The bishop wrote back saying that the Priest residence was sub standard. They need a private residence etc. I was appalled that a Bishop could say below standard when I know it is better than my house and we put a lot of money getting it built including knocking out walls to make the bedrooms bigger as the nuns only needed a small room, but our priests needed large rooms. It recently had the kitchen upgraded, sittng room, bedrooms two bathrooms as well as a state of the art security system.

I can not reconcile the views of our Priests or Bishop when I see this as a purely elitist thing. Our Lord did not tell his apostles to go out and live in a private hotel isolated from your church. He washed the disci[les feet and said now you do the same.

I feel like writing back to the Bishop and tell him that he is not fullfilling his role. Our church is loosing parishers and is losing plate money thus the butget is going backwards. If it continues there will be no parishs to put a private residence on.

I don' want a wishy washy sugarcoated reply to this as I know Jesus's message to the church leaders of His time.


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Hi Peter, I'm just as bound as Jesus' first followers are to what he called 'my' commandment, that we love one another as he has loved us (Jn 15:12), where that 'as' means a love so great that we're ready to die for each other. I'm writing this on Saturday, July 7, the feast of the Papua-New Guinea catechist, Blessed Peter To Rot, who lived this to the full. Even though he knew he'd die before seeing his third child, he could say to a friend shortly before he was brutally killed by the invaders of his country,' If it is God's will, I'll be murdered for the faith. I am a child of the Church and therefore for the Church I will die.'

And yesterday was the feast of St Maria Goretti, whose last words were: 'Through love of Jesus I forgive him [Alessandro, who had caused her death] with all my heart' and said she wanted to have him in Heaven with her. We know her prayer for him was heard, as years later Alessandro repented, and after he'd served his 30 year sentence he begged Maria's mother for forgiveness. She forgave him, saying that if Maria had forgiven him on her death bed then she couldn't do any less, and the next day they went to Mass together, receiving Holy Communion side by side.

I hope you'll understand that as a priest from another diocese, I can't enter into a local discussion when I only have one side of the story, and without in any way doubting all you've said, can I humbly suggest a non-sugar-coated reply to a very difficult situation:

As Christians we're all asked to be Jesus crucified, at times for people like Peter To Rote and Maria Goretti, that question can be very direct - to die on the Cross. Or like some clergy I know in the Chinese underground Church, it's to live a life of constant government interference (like huge fines for carrying out baptisms, and all 18 year olds and under being forbidden to enter their churches), but often far worse, from house imprisonment to straight imprisonment).

Or the question to take follow Jesus can be indirect and painful, like all you, your wife and parishioners are going through. But maybe if the Church in Armidale is to be renewed, it will be through the self-sacrifice of those who were ready to lose everything, in your case a parish centre, if not your lives, for the Church. Please forgive me, as I'm sure you'll think it's easy for me to say this, but at different times, each of us will be asked that question. I'll be keeping you and all your parish in my prayer during this very difficult time. Very best, Fr Brendan
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will i go to hell

A Xt3 Member asked at 3:59pm on June 27th 2018
Hi Father,

My name is Kyle. I am 18 years old and had a really hard life. i will start from the beginning.

When, I was just 8 years old. My mom went on a night out and stuff and it was just me and my dad. So it was about 8PM at night, I was up in bed. Then heard a loud noise it was my front door slamming shut but it was not fully shut. So I stood at the top of the stairs shouting "Daddy" and then I get no reply. So it was 5 more mins after the door slammed shut and as I get to the last step, I look at the door and see something black go into the door. I thought nothing of it but then I saw my dad just lying there not moving... I called 999 stuff but I never knew my address. so I blamed my self for his death and so did his dad and word got out and I got bullied for it at school. And I blamed God for his death. I know God gave us life and had every right to take it back, but I just don't understand why he had to take it when I was there. I think that's what changed me for the worst.

So a few years passed. I turn 16, and this is where I started to smoke weed. All i ever do is think about my past and I don't blame God for what he did. Well sometimes I do when I am mad, but whenever I try to talk about my dad, it kills me. I've not spoken to anyone about my dad or that night. I think weed just helps me chill and forget stuff, but at the same time, I'm scared.

I've been looking up stuff on heaven and hell and I really don't wanna burn in the pits of fire for the rest of the well whatever it is. I wanna be with Jesus and my dad and God and his angels. It's hard for me to love anyone. I just wanna feel that love that God feels. I wanna feel like I'm more than just His creation. I just wanna be forgiven but whenever i think about it, I think to my self 'why should I?'. What if I've committed the unforgivable sin? I really think i have tbh [to be honest]. I've said some stuff like "Holy S***" and stuff and I regret it. I don't wanna commit the unforgivable sin. I don't wanna stop smoking weed yet, but i just wanna know how to be forgiven and how to pray and speak to him. I need to let Jesus into my heart, but I don't know how to.

But I just wanna know, can I be forgiven for smoking weed? And how do I get Jesus into my heart and follow Him to the kingdom of God?

It's been so bad. I've tried to take what I was given to me from God as I could not deal with the loss of my dad, but weed really does help me. But I don't want weed to help me. I want God to make my soul pure again.

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Hi Kyle, I'm really sorry you've had such a tough set of experiences in your life. I don't know if you're a Catholic, but if you are, all you need to do is to go to a Catholic priest for confession. And if you're not, while it would be great if you could give up smoking weed, you can tell God you're sorry, and I'd advise you to go along to whatever Church you feel nearest to you and join them in prayer.

There's absolutely no sin that's unforgiveable. When Jesus spoke of the sin that couldn't be forgiven (in Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:10) he meant those who absolutely refused to accept God's grace, which of course can't be forced on anyone. And you're the exact opposite of that! Reading your message reminded me of the person Jesus praised in the story he told of the tax collector who stood at the back of the synagogue and just said 'Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner' (Lk 18:13). Or the beautiful story Jesus tells of the lost sheep in Mt 18:12-14 and Lk 15:3-7).

You know what? The desire to have Jesus in your heart means He is already there! Again, if you were a Catholic, after going to confession, you can actually receive Jesus, his body and blood, soul and divinity, in the Blessed Eucharist when you attend Mass. And if you're not, you still have him living in your soul, you find him especially in your suffering, in the Gospels, and in every neighbour.

Whatever happened to your Dad, as you know, was never your fault - even an adult wouldn't have known what to do, faced with the shock of his death, but an 8-year old child? There's no easy answer as to why God allowed your Dad to die that way. The only way we can come to approaching it is to think of what the Father allowed happen to his own Son. Everything that happened to him was for you and for your Dad. Beside Jesus when he was dying on the cross was a man who almost certainly had committed murder. That man was the very first person to enter Heaven with Jesus. Think of your Dad in his last moments saying something like that man beside Jesus, 'remember me when you come into your kingdom.' And Jesus, to his companion on the cross beside him said 'This day you will be with me in Paradise.' As Christians, we believe not just in the resurrection of the human soul or spirit, but in the resurrection of the body. That's why we pray for those who have died at every Mass, so that one day you can hope to see your Dad again, look into his eyes, hold his hands in yours, hear his voice once more.

And you know how you can feel the love that God feels? By starting to love whoever is beside you. A great saint, John of the Cross, said that 'where there isn't love, put love, and you'll find love.' It's a useful recipe for our lives - even when I haven't loved in the right way, I can start again each moment, and once I do, I'm already living in God and His Love. Very best, keeping you always in my prayers, Fr Brendan
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